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Gary, Handyman
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 246
Experience:  25 yrs in home repair/building - 10 yr in live theatre set design/building
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I am trying to renovate an old house sign on a 14th century

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I am trying to renovate an old house sign on a 14th century house. We do not wish to replace the sign but it needs careful attention. I have scraped off all loose and flaking paint on both sides. The design is a bit complicated and stylised and we do not wish to change it. Unfortunately a tracing paper route has been unsuccessful. I have managed to copy the design onto the wood, but now realise that if I put any undercoat on the design will disappear and I will have to start again which I am not keen to do. Bearing in mind that the sign has been painted so many years, could I forego the undercoat and just paint gloss? Where there are bare patches (intended) which have never been touched would it be a good idea to furnish them?
Hi and thank you for using Just Answer.

I switch to this Q&A so I could address your question better. Can you please send me a picture of this sign so I can see what you are? This would also be a great help so I can recommend/guide you through this project. Thanks

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Sorry I did not reply to your message last night. We had visitors. I am afraid I cannot send you a photo of the sign. It would seem that in the 20 plus years we have spent here no one has ever taken a picture of it However I can describe it to you. Basically it is made of 4 oak plants with a cross bar top and bottom and a iron frame, painted black and with a couple of rings to hang it by - like a pub sign. The bottom inch or so of the planks the wood has rotten a bit, but not enough to replace it and I have put hardener on it. Part of the design is bare wood which is that lovely silvery colour that old oak gets, so we do not want to cover that. I have managed to draw the letters of the name which is Lords and Ladies exactly they were on the bottom 22cm. The rest is a design, vey simple to copy for an expert, very difficult for one who is hopeless with a pencil.

It has just occurred to me that we have our own wine bottle labels, with a picture of the sign on it. My husband is out but on his return in a couple of hours I will ask him to scan it in and we can send it to you? Do we need your email address for that?


Thank you for getting back. As beautiful as this sign sounds, I can understand why you would want to keep it in original condition. It is to my understanding that you can send pictures through this site. Please do what you can and let me know.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This morning I remembered that we have our own wine bottle labels which have the same design. My husband scanned a couple in and forwarded to your website which will give you an idea. (We have our own little vineyard). I sent you a long email this morning, but it has disappeared off my computer and my iPad, so I do not know if it ever arrived your not. Let me know if you did not get it and I will write it again.

Sorry to be so slow and I am looking forward to your opinion.



Hi Bianca,

I'll look for it and let you know. Thanks

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

What information do you need? We can't think of anything.

We are now awaiting your answer.

Hi Bianca,

I hadn't received any pictures or anything of the kind.

Without taking a look at what you see, I can only imagine by how you described to me above. My wife will tell you I have quite an active one ... In your case I would use a "wood sealer" It comes clear so whatever decoration/painting/tracing that is currently there will not be hidden. This will also preserve the "silver touch" you have with the aged oak.

On this sealer, do not go cheap and stay with brand names. There are several kinds out there dealing with wood. Remember oak is a hard wood so getting a sealant saying for "soft" wouldn't work because the chemical base for soft wood is different than hard. This sealant is what you call a "pre-treatment" so don't confuse it with urethane, varnish or anything else of this kind. These are made for protection following any staining or painting. The one you want will or should say "Pre Stain Treatment" There are two different kinds ... interior & exterior. What this does is seals the wood to keep it even for staining and does not allow sap from wicking out where the knots are. It also helps give it protection from the weather as well.

When using this, you can lightly sand the areas. Remove anything loose such as paint. With a tack-cloth wipe the entire area down before applying. As with any wood try it in an area that will not be noticed. See what it does. I would recommend that you go out and find some aged wood like your sign. Prep that sample board like you would your sign and use the wood sealer. Inside an hour it will give you the results and you can see how it would look in comparison to your sign. Again use that sample board like your sign, so if you have pencil drawing on it, make sure this sample board does as well. You should still see your pencil marks after you apply the sealant. You can apply more than one coat. I would recommend three ... but just remember use the sample board first. If it gets to dark, quit don't go on. The idea is for you not to loose what you want for the end result ...

If you have any questions please aks. I wish you the best.

Gary and other Home Improvement Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you very much Gary. I shall go today and buy the woof sealer and as you suggest will buy the best I can find. It has been a difficult drawing to accomplish since the lead of a pencil does not mark the wood, even a soft carpenter's pencil. In the end I have resorted to a blue felt tip pin which will be easy to cover.



Hi Bianca

If there is anything else about this project you are doing that I can help with please let me know. You might also do a before and after picture on your sign. If anything it will be a great conversation starter.

I wish you the best