Painted Letter Tutorial (Metal Look)

Anthropologie sells some pretty cool zinc letters.  $18 each for letters that are 8 inches tall.  That can get pricey if you are spelling something out.  I paid $33 each for the metal letters in my office which measure 15×17.5 inches (you will see them a little further down in the post).


My cheaper alternative to metal letters is to paint cardboard letters (12×9 inches) to look metal.   Super easy!  Below is one that I painted and will show you how to do the same.

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The idea came after I bought the three, afore mentioned, metal W’s for the office from Razamataz.  They were originally painted green and black.

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I painted over them in blue to match the office’s color scheme.

Then, I painted over that with a pearl paint to create a brushed metal effect. And, distressed them a bit.  Note that pearl works better than metallic.  This is the specialty paint combination that Valspar sells.

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These metal letters were $33 each!  Super cool, but still, that’s a little pricey if you are buying more than one or two.  I realized later that I could buy cardboard letters of a similar size from Joann’s for $4 each and just paint them to look metal. And, ironically, that I could use the same paint technique I used on the metal letters.

- Black acrylic paint.
- Pearl acrylic paint. I used Folk Art’s Pearl White.
- Cardboard letter.
- Paint brush.

I know this image looks backwards, but I’m showing the side of the “K” that I had not yet painted. That way you can see it’s cardboard and what it looks like unpainted.

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I simply painted the letter black.  I used Folk Art’s Licorice color.  You don’t need much.  I poured it into a plastic cup and used it from there with a cheap chip brush. I watered the paint down very slightly so it went on smoothly.

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I painted all sides black.  Use very little paint so that your brush is fairly dry and does not saturate the cardboard too much.

Then, once that dried, I went over it with the pearl.  This is where it’s important to have a dry brush with very little paint on it.  It will dry very quickly, though.  But, brush and rub however you want.  I tried to go all in one direction.

I’ve found that pearl works better than a silver or metallic paint.

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Do this on all sides.  And, then, you are done!

Looks like metal to me!  Yet, so much cheaper!  Cost: $6.  Let me know if you try it!



  1. love the metal look letter! going to have to find one and do a big fat B to put somewhere in my home!

  2. Your “K” looks great. I like the subtle shine the metallic paint gives.

  3. WOW what a great project.. They look great!

  4. Awesome project! I’m definitely doing this! Thanks for sharing:)

  5. Love this! I just did this last week too, and will be blogging about it on Monday.

    Mine didn’t come out nearly as cute as yours though!

    Nice work! Love your reading your blog!

  6. I LOVE this tutorial! I’ve always eye zinc letters, but now I want to make them because it looks way more fun :)

  7. OMG! I was just in KC and stopped by the Anthro there… saw these and thought they could so be DIY’d! Thanks for figuring it out for me Kristy :D

  8. This is such a great idea! I love the finished look of it!

    I have a link party going on now, called Show & Share. I’d love to have you link this up!

  9. This is so cool! I love a great, cheap project.

  10. Love it! I also love that it is so inexspensive! Great job! Thanks for linking up with us at Show & Share!


  11. the metal look is so cool!

    I would love it if you would share this and/or any other projects you have been up to at Tuesday Talent Show at Chef In Training! Plus there is a fun giveaway too! Thanks so much and I hope to see you there!

  12. Thanks so much for linking up to Tuesday Talent Show! I would love to have you stop by and link up again tomorrow with more great projects!

  13. Can you do this to make a gold colored letter???? I did these for my nursery and they turned out perfect!!! Now onto Christmas decor!!!!

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