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How to create concrete house numbers

Adam_W
Valued Contributor

Difficulty: Beginner

Concrete is a wonderfully versatile material for use in all kinds of arts and crafts.

 

This simple guide shows you how to create unique house numbers, and you can follow the same process to make other bespoke artworks for your home.

Steps

Step 1

First make or buy papier-mache characters of the letters or numbers that you want to use. You'll be placing these in your mould and ladling the concrete around them. Your characters must have a flat front that can be glued flush to the base of the mould. They must be sealed on all sides (no hollow backs) and should have straight sides to make them easy to remove.

 

Decide on the positioning of your characters, remembering that they need to be mirror-image as you will be looking at the back as you create the mould. They also need to be at least 50mm in from the sides to avoid cracking. Use your tape measure for accuracy, and mark their location. We used our level as a straight-edge guide aligned with the board edge, and also as a spacer to position and align the top and bottom.

 

We used formply as timber for the mould because it provides a super-smooth finish and separates easily from any cement mix. You can use other timber for extra texture but you will need to let it set longer to ensure that it separates cleanly.

 

Now mark your board for cuts. The cut list for our mould box (suitable for three 20cm-tall characters) was:

 

1 x 690mm x 315mm (base)

2 x 690mm x 140mm (sides)

2 x 340mm x 140mm (ends).

 

Step 1 Mark out cuts and character positions.png

Step 2

Clamp board down, ensuring clamps aren’t in the way of your cuts. Fit guide to your saw and adjust to match required cut width. Saw your sheet up to create the pieces of your mould box.

 

Step 2 Fit guide to saw and cuts mould sections.png

Step 3

On a flat work surface assemble the mould box. The side and end panels sit outside the base and are screwed to it. Pre-drill and add two to three screws to each join. Ensure all joints are closed tightly.

 

Tip: clamping sections together can help when assembling your box.

 

Step 3 Assemble mould box.png

Step 4

Apply a generous amount of adhesive to the face of your characters and position them carefully, remembering that they must be mirror-image and read and run backwards. Press down firmly, taking care not to crush them. Carefully wipe excess adhesive from board and place the mould in the sun to allow adhesive to set.

 

Step 4.1 Apply a generous amount of adhesive to characters.png  Step 4.2 Position characters mirror image.png

Step 5

Concrete and cement mixes are typically grey, so if you want bolder oxide colours to show through you will need to blend your own mix of sand and white or ivory cement.

 

If blending your own cement mix first dry-mix your sand and cement in the wheelbarrow. The ratio is three sand to one cement. Once it’s blended add the colouring oxide and continue to dry-mix, ensuring that the colour is consistent.

 

If you’re using pre-mixed bagged sand and cement or concrete empty the bags into barrow and then blend in the oxide.
Now add water gradually, blending as you go, and bring to a consistency that is just short of pourable. Our mould used a single mix of three 9L buckets of sand with one bucket of cement.

 

Remember that pre-mixed bagged concrete contains gravel that will change the texture and appearance of the finished project.

 

Step 5 Dry mix cement blend adding oxide if using.png

Step 6

Fill bucket with mix and use trowel to ladle small amounts into your mould. With gloves on gently push mix in to fill all holes and remove any air pockets. Make sure it’s pushed well into corners too.

 

Continue to fill the mould, pressing down as you do so. You can use wire mesh to reinforce larger projects. Use mesh with aperture sizes of 25mm to 50mm and ensure it is at least 30mm away from all edges. It is best added when the mould is just above half full.

 

Once the mould is full use trowel to bring the back to a smooth finish but do not overwork.

 

Step 6 Gently work mix into all holes and corners.png

Step 7

Cover filled mould with plastic sheeting (a garbage bag is adequate), and leave for at least 12 hours to cure. The plastic helps prevent cracking, which can happen when the mix dries too quickly. Remove screws from the sides of the mould sides once the mix is cured.

 

Step 7 Remove screws from mould once cured.png

Step 8

Once you’ve removed the sides carefully roll your block on to its back. The concrete can still be a little chalky and easily chipped at this stage. Now lift what was the base of your mould off and the face will be revealed. The papier-mache characters will likely stay in the actual block, but you can remove them easily - again taking care with the edges of the block.

 

Your project is now complete and ready for showing off.

 

Step 8.1 Roll over and remove mould base.png  Step 8.2 Carefully remove characters.png  Step 8.3 Finished item.png

Materials

  • Formply (we used one sheet, 1200mm x 600mm x 17mm)
  • 50mm timber screws
  • Sand and cement in pre-mixed bags or bagged cement and bagged sand to blend your own. Volume suitable to fill your mould
  • Cement colouring oxide of your choosing
  • Hollow papier-mache characters or designs. We used three characters 20cm tall
  • Quick-drying adhesive suitable for both porous and gloss surfaces, such as Selleys Aquadhere PVA Wood Glue Exterior Adhesive.

Tools

  • Small power saw with adjustable guide
  • Driver drill with bits for screws and pre-drilling
  • Tape measure and square
  • Quick-release clamps to fit your mould
  • 1200mm long level or straight-edge for setting out
  • Wheelbarrow or large bucket for mixing concrete
  • Spade or large hand trowel for mixing cement
  • Medium-sized concreter’s trowel for finishing cement
  • Bucket for measuring cement and sand (if making your own mix) and for ladling out concrete mix
  • Marking pencil or felt pen
  • Personal protective equipment: Eye and ear protection when using power saw. Eye protection when using drill. Eye, hand and breathing protection when mixing dry cement products. Hand and eye protection when working with wet cement mix.

Images

 

Step 1 Mark out cuts and character positions.png

Step 2 Fit guide to saw and cuts mould sections.png

Step 3 Assemble mould box.png

Step 4.1 Apply a generous amount of adhesive to characters.png

Step 4.2 Position characters mirror image.png

Step 5 Dry mix cement blend adding oxide if using.png

Step 6 Gently work mix into all holes and corners.png

Step 7 Remove screws from mould once cured.png

Step 8.1 Roll over and remove mould base.png

Step 8.2 Carefully remove characters.png

Step 8.3 Finished item.png

7 Replies
craftyhopper
Experienced Contributor

@Adam_W 

I frigging love this! 😍

I hate that the house we are building will have a single digit house number, never thought about spelling it out! Will defiantly be trying this. 

Remarka6le
Experienced Contributor

Noice, would be awesome to see how you'd get some small LED's hooked up on the inside of each open space connected to a solar panel to see what kind of illumination you can have with this thing as a night time feature in a garden. 

MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Entirely possible @Remarka6le! I've made a light-up concrete lamp before and added ducting into the form to route cables. I've put a rendering below that should allow LEDs to be placed at suitable locations to illuminate the lettering. You could use a smaller electrical conduit as ducting. I've routed the ducting to the back for an area to join cables. A solar panel can be placed nearby/on top and connected at the rear.

 

Mitchell

 

Numbers.png

myha
Newbie

loved this

MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @myha. It's wonderful to have you join us and terrific to see you're interested in this project.

 

We'd be keen to assist you if you wanted to give this a go yourself. Our helpful members are always at the ready to answer project questions you might have.

 

We look forward to hearing all about your projects and plans around the house and garden and encourage you to let us know any time you need assistance or have something to share.

Mitchell

 

Noyade
Trusted Contributor

What a great idea! :smile:

 

Years ago I mounted a slab that had imprints of my sons hands when they were young. Council were in the process of improving the blocks sewage system and they were ripping up concrete - so I saved this.

You could probably do something similar with this numbered/worded approach?

 

20220306_123739.jpg

 

20220306_172110.jpg

Mae
Budding Contributor

great job that’s looks amazing. There’s no end to the versatility 

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