DIY Black and White Distressed Christmas Sign

December 11, 2023

Follow this simple tutorial to make your own modern black and white distressed sign for Christmas.

CHRISTMAS   |   Updated December 10, 2023

Can you feel it?

The feelings of Christmas are all around as the holiday draws near.

As I type this, I can smell the scent of a gingerbread candle burning on the coffee table next to me. Christmas music is playing in the background. And a thin dusting of snow has finally fallen on the neighborhood.

For the past few weeks I have tried to remind myself that these moments are what really make the holiday special. Sure, I love getting presents and indulging in a table full of food, but it is the simple things like the scents and scenes of Christmas and spending quality time with my family that is what the season is all about.

There is a lot that I could have and should have done over the past few weeks, but it is very likely that my holiday was a bit more merry because I chose NOT to worry about doing them.

There are just a few days left to really savor the little moments before the holiday is here and gone. Cherish them and fill those moments with activities that make your heart feel good on the inside, friends.

Today I wanted to share a quick and easy DIY with you for the Christmas season. I am a big fan of distressed signs and find that they are pretty fail-proof type of project even for beginners.

While it may seem a little complicated because of multiple steps requiring different coats of paint to dry, it is actually quite simple and doesn't take much actual working time at all to complete.

Ready to learn how to create art work like this yourself?

Supplies You'll Need

The supplies you'll need are:

  • boards with routered edges** - the number you need will depend on the holiday word you want to spell

  • wood stain - (optional) I love Fusion Mineral Paint Stain and Finishing Oil in Cappuccino

  • white, tan, and charcoal colored paints - I used Fusion Mineral Pain in Casement, Bedford, and Ash, but ordinary acrylic craft paints will work as well

  • clear candle - you'll use it to create a resist so the paint distresses easily

  • painter's tape

  • heavy grit sandpaper

  • ruler

  • pencil

  • carbon paper

  • D-hooks or sawtooth hooks for each board - if you plan on hanging them on the wall

**Someone gave me these boards already cut with a rounded edge. If you are handy with power tools, you may be able to make ones like this for yourself. Cut and routered boards are also available at any craft store.

How to Make Distressed Christmas Signs

Since I was given four boards, I chose to create my signs to spell the word NOEL and hung them in a square. For your project, you can create any word (and for any season) that you'd like. You could hang them in a row vertically or horizontally or even just lean them staggered on a shelf!

Now let me share with you how I created these primitive signs.


If your boards are new or bare wood, you'll want to stain them first so that the distressing doesn't reveal a light colored wood. Older wood may not need to be stained.

Rub a clear wax candle over the corners and edges of your board. This creates a resist and will allow the dark layer of paint to chip away and reveal the stained wood below when you sand the final product.

Then paint the entire board in a dark charcoal colored paint.


When that coat of paint is dry, use the candle to once again rub over the edges and anywhere you want to see the charcoal paint peaking through when the white sign is distressed.

Use painter's tape to mark off the square space that needs to be painted. This step is optional if you are really good at painting straight lines, but is worth the little bit of extra time it takes in my opinion.

Paint enough coats of white paint to get a solid finish. (It took three coats of the Fusion brand paint.)

Then dry brush a little bit of the tan colored paint around the edges of the white paint. This gives the finished look a bit more dimension and age after everything is sanded.


While the coats of white paint are drying, you can sketch out the letters to transfer onto the boards. You may be most comfortable designing letters on a computer that can be printed out. I decided to ketch mine out using a ruler for a straight line.

Transfer these letters onto your individual boards using carbon paper under your sketch when the last coat of white paint is dry.

Paint the letters with charcoal paint. Don't worry too much about painting the letters perfectly. The beauty of distressing is that it hides all the minor imperfections that may occur.

When the letters are completely dry, use heavy grit sandpaper to heavily distress the boards and painted letters. I wanted the signs to look as though they had been weathered and aged over many years.


Attach a D-hook or sawtooth hook to the back of each board for hanging. Both types are available at hardware stores, craft stores, or places like Target.

Now your project is done and ready to be hung and decorate your holiday home!

Project Variations

This is the type of craft that can be completely customized according to your style and decor.

  • While I did mine in a neutral, more modern black and white theme, you could paint your sign in any color combination you'd like.

  • If a distressed look isn't your thing, skip that step and leave your paint looking neat and clean.

  • Use plain slab boards rather than ones with the routered edges. Or use something really rustic and weathered.

  • As I mentioned earlier, you can paint any word you'd like and find a unique way to hang the letters on the wall.

The most important part of making anything is that you enjoy the process of creating and incorporate the style and techniques that you enjoy and are comfortable with.

So, put on some Christmas music, brew yourself a cup of that gingerbread coffee and get crafting! Let your own passions and style guide you through creating some custom art for your space.

More Christmas DIY Projects to Try

DIY GOLD BEAD GARLAND - Give a simple antique inspired makeover to your old discarded Christmas beads


NO-SEW TABLE RUNNER - Great for your Christmas table or make a few to give away as gifts!

DIY CLAY CANDY CANES - Perfect for any style home

HAND PAINTED CHRISTMAS PILLOW - Learn how to transform a basic neutral pillow into a holiday keepsake.

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