Making your own growth chart ruler to track your children’s growth over the years does not have to be a complicated or hard craft!
You have probably stumbled upon many different variations of Wooden Family Growth Chart Rulers on Pinterest and maybe didn’t know where to begin!
Many people just track the heights of their children on a wall in the family home. But if you want to paint, update your home, or move all together you will risk loosing those precious visual memories forever!
Luckily for you, although there are many cute options for keeping track of your kiddos wooden growth rulers attached to the wall; rather than marking the walls themselves.
This tutorial is simple, easy to personalize and will go nicely with any decor style!
What will this tutorial cover?
|Supplies||What supplies you will need for this project|
|Steps||Tutorial for completing the growth chart ruler|
|Tips and Tricks||Read these tips and tricks for troubleshooting help|
|Video Summary||Summary of my process of creating my own ruler|
|Cost||Approximate costs for a 3D growth chart|
|Where to find||Links and more information on where to find the materials used in this project|
|Why||Why it is worth the time to create your own family growth chart|
Supplies needed to make a 3D DIY growth chart ruler
I’ve only had the supplies to make this little craft project for over a year….Finally I made it a priority to get it finished and on the wall so I can mark some heights and remember how fast my precious kids are growing up!
Let’s get right into the tutorial to show YOU how to make your very own growth chart ruler just like mine, without procrastinating about it for a year!
Wood board base – Materials Needed
- 8″ (inch) wide by 6’ (foot) long by 1” (inch) thick pine board – I found mine at the Home Depot.
- For whatever reason the finished dimensions of this size of board end up being 7.25″ wide (side to side) by 3/4″ inch thick by 6′ (feet) long
- Really you can get whatever size of board (width wise) you want. Some people do 12″ wide boards. It’s up to you.
- Household Wall paint in desired color – Some good ideas are white, grey, brown, tan
- I just used some leftover interior eggshell finish paint in delicate lace (WHITE) by PPG paints to make a two tone white and grey board
- If you are staining only
- Stain: in your choice of Color.
- To get a look like mine choose a weathered grey type tint. I actually used a product called antiquing gel in weathered wood color by Heirloom Traditions Paint
- If you are ONLY staining your board – and not doing a two – tone look. Then I recommend getting some paint in the same color as your stain for the purpose of sealing your stencil before doing your stencil accent color. That way any bleed under the stencil will be in the same color as your stain (ie. brown stain – brown paint, grey stain – grey paint) you will understand more why this is important as your read on.
- 1 Chip paint brush; these are just the general cheap brushes from the hardware store. You do not need a perfect paint finish for this project
- 1 Rag: for buffing out stain
You can also choose to paint only, or stain only. DO NOT feel like you have to do both! The purpose of this project is to make it suit your home and your style.
Stencil/measuring mark – Materials Needed
The very first thing you will need to make your RULER LINES (unless your crazy talented at free handing things) is a STENCIL
Stencils can be single use made out of thick adhesive vinyl that you simply stick on your prepared board, paint in the desired color with a sponge, let dry then remove. Leaving you with beautiful, crisp RULER LINES and NUMBERS.
Alternatively they can be made out of reusable plastic, in a non-adhesive fashion. Designed to be layed on the board, held steady, painted, lifted up, washed and laid down again for the next section.
- A ruler mark stencil: made out of either reusable non-adhesive plastic in 1 foot sections or a single use adhesive stencil
- I made a single use adhesive stencil for purchase in my Etsy shop to make it really quick to complete this project. It contains 7 pieces of stencil so you can paint your entire board with ruler marks all at once
- If you are making a 2D board (so your numbers are painted on as well) I also have numbered stencils available as well! 🙂
- Household Paint or craft paint: in your choice of colors. This is for the numbers and the ruler lines
- I used some leftover Rustoleum matte black spray paint for the numbers and the lines. Then sprayed the spray paint into a plastic dish and dabbed it onto my stencil with a sponge for the rules lines. The stencil WAS NOT spray painted, that would have been too messy! 🙂
- A simple sponge! I actually used a leftover sponge like this from my nursery closet sponge wall project (tutorial coming soon!)
- I have heard a makeup sponge works really good as well, but I did not try this myself so I cannot attest to it!
- Painters tape: for helping transfer and hold down the stencil while your positioning everything before
If you are going to make your own stencil or prefer a reusable one then…
- Measuring mark Vinyl stencil – other options if you have your own Cricut you can find several free SVG files to cut your own stencil. Or buy a SVG off Etsy if you want a specific look or design! I use Cricut Stencil Vinyl
- Reusable stencils- alternatively you can buy a physical stencil pre-made off Etsy. A stencil like this is made of hard plastic type material. Typically these are around 12″ long. So you will need to lay it down, hold it steady, paint it, lift and wash before painting the next section.
If you want to make your board 3D you will need…
- Chipboard, MDF or Wood Numbers 1 – 6 from craft store of choice. I got my numbers from Micheals Arts and Crafts.
- My numbers are quite large. They are called 5″ tall, but are actually more like 5.5″. They are HUGE, and you don’t have to use something the same size if you prefer smaller.
- Gorilla Glue: for securing the chipboard numbers to the wood board
- Scrap cardboard: for laying the numbers on to spray paint
- Spray paint in the desired color – I used Rustoleum Matte Black as my ruler marks are black as well. Spray paint is not NEEDED, although certainly makes it WAY easier to paint the numbers nicely.
*NOTE* You can still use this tutorial even if you do not want the 3D look for the numbers. You will just need to stencil on numbers as well as ruler marks. The majority of stencils you pre-buy, or files you can cut with a vinyl cutter will have numbers included with them.
Extra supplies you might need
- Fine grit Sandpaper or sanding block – you will need 80 grit or higher, the higher the # the smoother the finish will be: To correct any major blemishes on the wood board, or to ‘rough up’ the look of your stain at the end
- I did not sand my board at all!
- Command Velcro style Picture Hanging Strips: For securing to the wall when you are finished. I used 4 pairs of large velcro strips for my board.
Steps for making a growth chart ruler from scratch
Part 1: Design Choices
- PICK OUT YOUR WOOD: Go to a hardware store and pick out a piece of (8″ INCH WIDE by 1″ INCH THICK by 6′ FOOT TALL – which will end up being just over 7″ WIDE by 3/4″ thick by 6′ foot tall) wood. Make sure your board is as straight as possible because it needs to be hung flush against the wall
- TESTING: Choose your least favourite side of the wooden board (hear me out) This is because you are going to ‘test’ out your technique (amount of paint and stain) a little first on the side you are going to have against your drywall when we are done. You don’t want to wreck the side of the wood that you like the most!
- See tips and tricks section for how to test colors out
- PAINTING THE NUMBERS: Spray paint the 3D letters in the same color you want your ruler marks to be. Let dry and apply a second or third coat as necessary. Keep your numbers safe and clean till the end of the project as you apply them last.
Part 2: Getting the base ready
- PAINTING THE BASE: Paint your board (ON THE GOOD SIDE) with the BASE color you want. You DO NOT need to prep (sand/clean etc) the board first unless its extremely rough. If it is then do some light sanding and wipe off all dust before painting.
- I used leftover white household paint
- You can skip straight ahead to staining if you do not want a 2 tone look
- STAINING: Let the paint dry completely then apply desired amount of stain
- I like to rub the stain on with a dry, clean lint free rag then buff of with a new clean rag
- Let the stain dry completely before deciding if there are any areas where you need more color, or some distressing with sandpaper
Part 3: Start the stencilling
- RULER MARKS: Apply the vinyl ruler mark stencil to the painted and stained board. Line the ruler marks up along the one side of the board. I recommend spacing it 1cm or so away from the edge of the board. This not only looks a lot better, but also ensures that if your board isn’t perfectly straight you can still keep your ‘tick marks’ straight.
- PLEASE MAKE SURE THE PAINT AND STAIN IS 100% DRY BEFORE APPLYING THE STENCIL. I actually recommend ‘prepping’ the board with your paint and stain before hand so it dries and cures fully WHILE your waiting for your stencil to arrive if you are ordering one. Just for peace of mind.
- PAINTING YOUR STENCIL: once the stencil is on and smoothed down completely you can start to apply the paint. You will first sponge on a THIN layer of the BASE color that you applied to your board.
- For myself this was the white paint. You do this to ensure that any ‘bleeding’ that may seep out under the stencil onto the wood is in your ‘background color’ to make it less noticeable. That way you will be left with perfect stencil marks in your accent color.
- If you only stained the board – this is when you would apply a really thin coat of the paint color that is similar to the stain you chose.
- PAINTING YOUR STENCIL CONTINUED: Once you have your base coat of paint on the ruler lines you will then let it dry completely, and apply the accent color (which is the same color you chose for your 3D numbers) and apply that. I like to apply two THIN coats of this accent color to be safe.
If you are making a 2D board – with stencilled numbers – you can apply and paint the number stencil at the same time as the ruler line stencil. Or do the same painting process with your numbers after the ruler marks are dry and that stencil is removed.
- REMOVING THE STENCIL: Once the paint has all dried completely, you can gently peel the stencil off the board. You should be left with crisp, clear ruler markers.
Part 4: Finishing steps and hanging
- 3D Numbers: You will now glue on the 3D chipboard numbers if you did not stencil numbers on. Glue them on using some Super Glue. Some people choose to place them above or below the ruler marks, while some (like myself) put the numbers further off to the side.
- HANGING: Now hang the finished 3D growth chart ruler on the wall of your choosing in your home!
- Pay close attention to the ruler marks on the board to determine how high off the floor to hang your board. For example my board began measuring at 6″, and my baseboards are 4″ tall. So I hung the board 2″ above the baseboards to make the ruler accurate and to scale.
- You can secure it to the wall using screws going through the board into the studs of the house.
- Or nail a strong sawtooth picture hanger on the back of the wood. Then hanging the sawtooth and the wood on a nail or screw in the wall studs of the home
Last option – the option I did –> Purchase some strong Command Picture Hanging Velcro Strips (We used 16lb strength)- and secure to the wall! The velcro is nice because it is two pieces (one on the wall and one on the board) so you are able to arrange the board until it is perfectly level and positioned appropriately above the baseboard.
Tips and Trick to note before starting this project
Please read these handy tips and tricks I learned from my own experience with this project, that might save you from a disaster of your own!
- BOARD: Color choosing TIP –> If your testing out more than one background color do several small (6″ inch or so sections) along the board (on the side you do not like as much) to get a feel for what the finished project can look like!
- Apply your household paint in a small area, let dry completely then apply your stain on top. Get a feel for what color combination you want, how much stain you like. And if you want any distressing added after with sandpaper.
- Once you have found the perfect combination proceed to step 3 of the tutorial section above on the GOOD side of the wood.
2. 3D NUMBERS : I used chipboard numbers so I thought it would be a good idea to use a spray primer on them first. Then tested more numbers with just the black spray paint (no primer) and found no difference between the two.
GORILLA GLUE: A quick note about Gorilla Glue and 3D numbers – DO NOT screw up your placement of them. PLEASE test out your placement first with TAPE on your 3D Numbers. I ruined my board by putting my numbers in the wrong spot, trying to rip them off and destroying my board. LEARN FROM ME LOL.
3. 2D NUMBERS: You can absolutely have flat 2D numbers as well, by purchasing a stencil (or cutting a stencil) with the numbers included. I did make numbered stencils in my Etsy shop available for purchase, in lots of different font options!
4. VINYL STENCIL APPLICATION: Applying vinyl can be really hard to figure out if you have never done it before. With a stencil you are going to peel it away from the white backing paper, and lay it down on the wood. Working from bottom to top of the stencil. Smoothing it down with your hand as you go.
A couple of really great vinyl stencil application videos
My video – https://youtu.be/4kuJw5XCLms
5. WHEN TO USE MODGE PODGE? I no longer recommend using Modge Podge after trying it out myself with no success
6. PAINTING YOUR STENCIL: sponges are great for painting stencils. LESS IS MORE, and DAB DAB DAB. Gently dab the paint onto the stencil. Don’t remove the stencil till your paint is dry. Never SWIPE or BRUSH your paint around when working with stencils if you don’t want bleeding.
Video Summary of my 3D Growth Chart Ruler Project!
How much will it cost to make my own growth chart ruler?
If you have some paint or stain on hand in your home it’s not going to cost much at all!
For myself, I had all of my paint, spray paint, stain, paint brushes, sponges, and vinyl already at home. So my only real cost was the wood, and the wood numbers.
In total this project cost me around $40– $50 I’m guessing with the values of those random supplies above factored in.
Some approximate costs for some of the items I recommended, assuming you have NOTHING on hand… TOTAL COST is going to really vary from person to person. Final design decisions and what you have on hand will really depend 🙂
Where to find: more information for helping you locate the needed supplies for this project
Vinyl ‘ruler marks’ & numbers stencil
I have a Cricut so I was able to purchase the stencil vinyl and cut my own ruler stencil out. Here are some other options for you if needed.
- Purchase an adhesive stencil
- Purchase a SVG file from Etsy like this one and cut on your Cricut or Silhouette
- Get a free SVG file such as this one to upload into your design program for cutting on your vinyl cutting machine
- This is link to the blog post for the cut file I used for the (A big thank-you to this lovely blogger for creating it and sharing it with others)
- Freehand the ruler marks onto the wood yourself using a measuring tape, pencil, painters tape and paint
Chipboard or wood numbers
If you do want to go for the 3D look, there are several options out there for numbers!
- MDF Numbers in the desired ‘font’ and size of your choosing. Purchase these from a local craft store or online. I used a 5″ MDF number from Micheals Arts and Crafts in Canada.
- Ask a local scroll saw artist to cut you some numbers out of chipboard, or wood! Its great to support a local maker when you can, and I’m sure most would be willing to do it! The cost of this will depend on many factors!
- Purchase ‘house address’ numbers from a hardware store
Why should you tackle this DIY Growth Chart Ruler
Disclaimer * I fully support shopping from local small business owners and there are many wonderful people who sell growth charts on Etsy and IG! But if you are crafty, have the time and desire to make one for yourself it is fully possible and will most likely end up costing less.
- It is a fun, quick project you can make to track your children’s growth over the years! Making it yourself adds a sentimental value to it, and will really become something to treasure as your kids get older!
- Many people typically mark heights on a wall or doorframe (my own parents did this!) This is fine, and is a really cute memory as well. However, if you were to move to a new home, paint, or renovate your home you run the risk of loosing the precious memories of your kids growth!
- Overall the cost should end up being less to complete this project yourself!
Creating a Wood Growth Chart Ruler with 3D numbers is a fun, quick DIY project that anyone can tackle! Creating a ruler for your family allows you to track how much your kids grow over the years and never run the risk of loosing these precious memories.
Overall it is a very affordable DIY project, and should easily cost way less than $100.
You do not need to have access to a vinyl cutting machine, and can complete the project with very few supplies. If you do not have a vinyl cutting machine you can purchase a stencil from Etsy, a friend, or freehand the lines yourself using a measuring tape.
With this easy Growth Chart Tutorial, anyone can make a cute growth chart to enjoy in their family home for years to come.
Please tag me on IG with your finished projects. I would love to see them! Or share how the project turned out in the comments below!
If you have a Cricut, check out this cute gold weeding tool organizer made from an old picture frame! Or if your super into DIY projects, and are looking for another project perhaps a IKEA Hack is right up your alley 🙂