DIY & Crafts, Projects

Rustic Growth Chart

September 25, 2013

I bet a lot of you can relate to a ‘growth chart’ of sorts.  From either your own childhood, or now from charting your kiddo’s height gain every so often … I just bet you have made one of these.  My memories are marking our height every so often on the door frame at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  There was a dramatic pause and excitement as we turned around each time to see where our new marks had made it to versus last time.  Then we’d break out the math and try to figure out if we were taller than our siblings at the same age.  That’s complex math for a kid…I tell ya!

The house we moved into a couple years ago has this same growth chart idea going on.  It’s on one of the walls next to our steps going upstairs.  It’s still there…two years later.  Basically, it’s almost in our kitchen and I walk by it prolly 25 100 times a day.  Guests always comment on it, “who is that from?” since obviously it’s not from our two boys (tallest mark is over 6’).   I’m thinking it’s time to go.  I feel kinda bad getting rid of it, but I’m pretty sure they’re never going to see it again, anyway.  I’ll take a picture…just in case.

On our wall today

On our wall today

This is exactly why you need a portable growth chart that you can take with you if/when you happen to move!  And also, in my head … my boys are going to want all this stuff I make them when they go off to college, or buy a new home, or have kids of their own to show it to (plus all our family picture albums, their memorabilia, their newborn hats from the hospital, their birthday cards from every year of their life, etc).  Knowing my brother, husband, and many other men … I’m guessing this is wishful thinking.  Oh well.  You never know, right.  So, on with it …

Fast forward a bit…here’s the finished product:


Okay, now the how-to: Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1x6x6’ board.  I used Poplar because that’s what they had at Lowes, but I’m sure it doesn’t make a huge difference (I’m not wood expert, so choose what you like).  This board $16.46 from Lowes.
  • Depending on the finish you want:
    • Stain (and/or)
    • Paint
    • Brushes to apply the finishes above
  • Sandpaper (and electric sander if desired).  I used both 100 grit and 220 on this board.
  • Number stencils (make your own or purchase from Michael’s or similar)
  • Stencil paint ‘brush’ (again, Michael’s in the paint aisle)
  • Tape measure, yard stick, or ruler …
  • Frog or painter’s tape

Before you begin, first decide how you want your growth chart to look.  Rustic and weathered?  Neatly stained?  Neatly painted?  Any pattern?  Any color?  For this project, I choose the first option – rustic and weathered.  You can modify this idea for whatever style you’re thinking.

Step 1:  Sand board.  I used an electric sander with 100 grit sandpaper first.  Using this rougher paper, I worked hard to get the corners slightly rounded, the edges shaved down (as if weathered) and different notches on various other parts of the board.  Then I switched the paper, and smoothed everything out with a finer paper.


Board before. Like my set up?

Step 2:  Wipe board to remove dust, and stain.  I applied two coats.


I used Rust-Oleum’s Dark Walnut Stain for this project

Step 3:  After it’s dry … I marked out the pattern I wanted (large chevrons).  I didn’t do anything fancy here (a stencil may have been easier).  Basically, I made a mark every 6” on both edges and then staggered my ruler up 3” from these marks, and using that as a starting point, made a mark every 6” up the center.   I broke into the boys’ colored pencil stash, stole a white pencil, and traced the chevron pattern between the marks.  I also made a white squiggle or X on the parts that were getting the paint (just cause I know myself and didn’t want to make any mistakes once I had a paint brush in my hand).

Marked off Chevron Pattern

Marked off Chevron Pattern

Step 4:  Tape off the pattern with painters or Frog tape.  ***If you are not going to distress … make sure your tape is stuck cleanly to prevent paint from spreading outside your lines (like mine did).

Again ... nice set up I have going on here.

Again … nice set up I have going on here.

Step 5:  Paint.  I wanted a white-washed look that would allow some of the wood grain to show through under the paint.  To do this, I mixed up 1 part white paint to 2 parts water.  Carefully paint this on with a nice brush.  Note:  with the watered down paint, it likes to splatter. A LOT.  Watch your clothes, and make sure to be careful about the paint splattering on your board (in places you don’t want!).

Applying the 'white washed' paint.

Applying the ‘white washed’ paint.

Step 6:  Wipe off excess paint.  Because I wanted the white-washed look, after I painted on the chevrons onto the board, while the paint was still very wet, I went back and wiped off the excess paint with a clean, white, rag (which happened to be an old t-shirt of Matt’s).  If you’re just painting, and not white-washing, skip this step!

Wipe off the excess if white-washing before it dries!

Wipe off the excess if white-washing before it dries!

Step 7:  Let paint dry.  Apply another coat if you think it’s necessary.  I applied two. Step 8:  Stencil numbers and feet markers on the board.  First the numbers:  I bought these number stencils from Michaels for $5.99 (reg. $9.99 with 40% off coupon).  They’re reusable, too, so I’m sure they’ll be put to use again.

MEASURE FIRST, KEEPING IN MIND THE HEIGHT TO WHICH YOU’RE GOING TO HANG YOUR BOARD OFF THE GROUND.  I sort of had a mind-lapse here, and almost messed the whole thing up.  If you’re going to hang the board 9” off the ground … start measuring assuming the bottom of the board is already at 9”.  This seems very common sense, but like I said, I forgot about it.  I marked every foot off.  You could also mark inches, but that seemed to cluttery for my board. I used one of these stenciling foam brushes made by Martha sold at Michael’s.  They’re cheap, disposable, and do the trick.

Stenciling is a bit different from painting.  You don’t want to brush on the paint, you want to pound on the paint.  This ‘pounding’ method (or maybe ‘tapping method’ sounds less intense), allows the stencil edges to stay neatly in place since you’re just going up and down (onto the stencil), rather than brushing from side to side.  These foam brushes are a little wimpy, so I reinforced them with some frog tape around the edges.  This helped the brush from collapsing when I ‘tapped’ on the paint .


Wrapped stencil brush in frog tape to give it some added strength.


Tap (or pound) the paint onto the wood over the stencil.


The wagon makes a nice work bench – who knew?

After your numbers are on, tape off where you want your foot marks, and repeat the stenciling process for these. aaaa4 Step 9:  Let everything dry!

Step 10:  Distress (if you’re going to).  I used 120 grit sandpaper on our electric sander.  I didn’t exactly have a method in mind, but basically ended up sanding with the grain.  More in places, less in others.  I tried to make sure to distress the corners and edges, and make sure there were no sharp paint lines remaining. gcfinishedclose3 Step 11:  Protect the wood.  I used Polycrylic.  I like this because it doesn’t have a yellow tint.  After sanding above, I wiped the board clean, and then applied this sealant.  I only applied one coat.  I suggests two, but I can’t think it’s going to get much abuse hanging on our wall (and I’m impatient). aaaa6 Step 12:  Hang!  Remember to hang it exactly at the right height off the ground.

Step 13:  Mark your kids heights.  I used some tags I found at JoAnn’s with some white paper oval mod podged into the center.  I hung them with a tiny nail.  Trying to keep with the rustic/industrial feel.






Here’s our growth chart hanging out in our porch.  I love it.  Matt says he thinks it will “grow on him”.  Oh well, can’t please everyone.  Maybe it will end up somewhere else (where Matt doesn’t have to look at it as often).


As I was writing this, I came across another awesome growth chart idea over at Just a Girl and her Blog.  A magnetic race car growth chart!  Such a cute idea (though I’m pretty sure the cars would disappear in no time if they were within reach of O & C.  Check it out here:

Magnetic Race Car Growth Chart via Just a Girl and her Blog

Now, someone please tell O & C to stop growing.  I kinda like ‘em just this small.  If they’d agree, I’d gladly throw this growth chart away!

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  • Reply Abby @ Just a Girl and Her Blog September 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Katie! It turned out so, so gorgeous! I LOVE it! Thanks for the shoutout, too! I am with you in that I wish the kids would just stop growing so we don’t need these anymore! 😉 Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

    ~Abby =)

    • Reply Katie September 26, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      Thanks, Abby!! Have a good end of the week / weekend! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Ashley @ December 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    I so want to try this! My son is growing like a weed! It looks really beautiful. Thanks for sharing the tutorial! Have a great day :-)

  • Reply How To Make Lemon Ginger Tea (home remedies) | December 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    […] is Katie from View From The Fridge!  She’s got some really cute DIY projects and a beautiful Rustic Growth Chart tutorial I totally want to try.  Be sure to stop by and say […]

  • Reply Courtney @ Crafts by Courtney January 10, 2014 at 2:47 am

    I have a growth chart post too!! I haven’t had time to write it, I plan on posting after Valentines. I’ll have some free time before the Easter craft rush!

    • Reply Katie January 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      Hi Courtney! I love these growth charts! Which reminds me … I think it’s time to remeasure the boys! Can’t wait to see yours!

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