This article covers simple black curb numbers on a white background or white house numbers on a black background. From concrete preparation to final touch ups, we have it covered.
Use a wire brush to knock off everything from dust and dirt to surface grease and grime. A stiff wire brush can begin to wear away the surface of the curb with some effort. That may be a good thing if there's road grime. A fresh surface will hold paint better. Don't try to dig too deep, just remove the surface crud so the concrete will be completely bare.
After the curb is free from heavy dirt and other accumulated crud, use a soft bristled scrub brush to finish preparing the surface to remove any dust that remains. Newer curbs won't require much preparation and may appear clean but you should still use the wire brush/scrub brush combination to get your curb ready for paint. Surface preparation is key to a long lasting curb number!
Using 1" or 2" masking tape, create your background area. Once you have your numbering stencils assembled, you can measure the total width of your numbers, then add 1" - 2" to each side past the numbers for the width of the background. If the total width of your numbers is 11 inches, then a 13" - 15" background will look nice and balanced.
The bottom of the background looks best at about 1" off of the street surface, so I run a piece of tape to create the bottom of the background. If you are using 3" numbers, then about 5" tall is good for your background. For 4" numbering stencils, a 6" high background works pretty well.
After taping all four sides of your background, it will almost be ready for paint. Stand back and make sure your placement is right where you want it and everything appears nice and square.
As a final check, measure your background on one side, top to bottom, then the other to help ensure it's squareness. You can also measure diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner, then compare that to the distance between the other two corners. These two measurements will be identical in a perfect rectangle.
Once you're satisfied that your background is square, centered in the area of the curb you want the number, and you feel confident that it's the right size, you can tape some painter's masking paper or old newspapers outside the taped area to prevent over spray.
There are a multitude of different kinds of paint available, but the reality of curb numbers is this: If you can get them to last about 5 years, you've done very well. There are "permanent" paints available that claim to last over a decade, but you will need a spray rig to use them and the final paint job will still begin to flake apart after about 5 years regardless of how it's applied.
You can also buy pavement striping paint. It really does last a long time... but again, you'll either need to brush it on or get a spray rig and the thickness of striping paint requires lots of drying time between coats. It just isn't practical to use striping paint for curb numbers.
The most reasonable paint I've found to use for painting address numbers on a curb is Rustoleum Brand Flat Protective Enamel. You can buy it pretty much anywhere, it's inexpensive, it lasts a long time and it comes in a spray can. Be sure and buy "flat" paint, not gloss. You can paint the background white or black and use the other color for the numbers.
Follow label instructions for general use and paint your background. Just enough for full coverage and no more, is the right amount.
To prepare your address numbers, lay your stencils on a flat surface facing up in the correct order you want them, lining them up at the top and at the bottom. Butt the stencils together at the sides. Tape the stencils together using 3/4" masking tape. Extra tape beyond the stencils will help you tape the numbers into position.
You can tape your stencils over your background after just a few short minutes or until the painted background feels dry to the touch and tape will stick to it.
From top to bottom, the stencils should fit nearly perfect into your background. From side to side, you can easily find the center of the background for placement. Once you have your stencils in position, run a strip of tape all the way around your numbers, making sure your background is completely covered up from getting sprayed.
You may want to wear rubber gloves because as you spray the numbers, you can (and should) press down the stencils as you go to avoid as much under spray as possible. Curbs are rough and under spray is a common issue. Take your time and do a good job. It only takes about 1 minute to spray 4 numbers carefully. Use short bursts and hold the can about 5-8 inches away from the stencils for the best results.
Once you finish painting the numbers, you can begin to remove each layer of masking until everything has been removed. Your curb number is basically done. Once everything has been removed, you can touch up the background or the numbers by spraying a little bit of paint into the cap of the spray paint and using a hobby brush to touch it up.
Finally, clean the area and your touchup brush with a clean rag and paint thinner.
Now you're done!
In my experience (and I've painted a lot of curbs) address numbers painted this way will last between about 4 and 6 years. You can add a year or more to that with a clear finish coat.
Watch the video above to see every step I described in this post.