Ready to Grow: DIY Oversized Ruler Growth Chart

By | June 18, 2013

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So, we don’t have kids yet, and still, I find myself sometimes wanting to work on projects that are either directly or indirectly related to our future kiddos. One such project was the oversized ruler growth chart I’ve seen all over Pinterest.

Ruler Pins

(Here are two examples I liked, here and here.)

But, I had planned to just save this pin until we had kids big enough to be measured…or have kids at all I guess. Then, my friend Elizabeth set out to accomplish a crazy awesome amount of projects this summer and she included the growth chart on her list and asked if I wanted to make one with her.

As a DIYer who sometimes does projects by myself (thankfully, Wyatt is USUALLY willing to help), I jumped at the chance to have a partner in crime so we went to Home Depot a few days before she got here for a visit to pick out our board.

Since we’d need drying time, we both selected, sanded, stained, and prepped our board for the final touches (numbers) ahead of time. Wyatt picked out a 6 foot knotty pine board for us to use. It’s the cheapest “nice” wood at Home Depot and if you look carefully and long enough, you can find some really nice ones. It’s what we used for the mirror frame and our pin board travel map.

Here’s a quick link for you to add it to your online cart, now.

Selecting Growth Chart Ruler Board

Then we loaded it up and headed home. (We also loaded up the PVC for my DIY foam roller project, and the bird barrier in the garden.

Loading PVC

Wyatt did the sanding for me. He’s the best at sanding. Seriously, it’s like baby-bottom-smooth when he’s done with it.

Sanding Growth Chart Ruler

This time, we tried a new product, the MinWax Pre-Stain Conditioner, because Wyatt thought the last time we stained this pine, the grain didn’t turn out all that pretty.

Pre Stain Treatment

While I’m at it, here’s our favorite multi-purpose brush, the Wooster Pro 1-1/2 in. Chinex Thin Angle Sash Brush, which is great to add to your collection of DIY supplies.

Home Depot Wooster Pro Angled Paint Brush

I’m not sure the conditioner helped us get an even coat, as it claims to do, but it did seem to bring out the wood grain a bit, which was nice.

Pre Stain Treatment 2

And then it got a coat of stain. We used the same finish we used for the map frame. It’s made by MinWax and called Espresso.

Home Depot Espresso Minwax

I only let it set on there for five minutes or so before wiping off the excess. I could have let it go a bit longer, but I’m pretty happy with the color.

Staining Growth Chart Ruler

I also gave it two coats of Rustoleum clear spray enamel, my favorite top coat because it goes on so smooth and dries super fast.

Spray on Enamel

After we finished the prep work, and it had time to dry overnight, we got started on the details once Elizabeth arrived. I like how different our boards turned out looking.

DIY Growth Chart Ruler

We started by measuring the board, marking off each inch.

DIY Growth Chart Ruler 2

Then, since the board will hang exactly 6 inches off the ground (because our trim is about 3 inches wide and we want it to be a little above that), we marked the “1” line at 6 inches up on the board.

DIY Growth Chart Ruler 3

(This may be different for your house, depending on how high you want the board to hang. Just make sure your “1” line is really one foot from the ground, not one foot from the bottom of the board.)

After that, it was time to paint the rest of the lines. It would have been “easier” (but way slower!) to tape these off, but I trusted my freehand to do a good enough job that it will look “polished and rustic” not “awful and homemade.” I think I ended up somewhere in the middle.

DIY Growth Chart Ruler 4

And instead of painting the numbers, I picked up a package of cheap adhesive mailbox numbers at Walmart to use.

Adhesive Numbers

If I had it to again, I think I’d use something fancier, like these from Target. They’re so snazzy!

Target Brass House Numbers

These worked great and provided a little more visual contrast since they stick up, just a tad, from the wood. And they solved my messy painting problems. We measured where we placed each one, (Yay teamwork!) and made sure they were level.

DIY Growth Chart Ruler 5

Elizabeth didn’t use the numbers, but she did trace around them and then fill them in with Sharpie marker, which I think looks awesome too. It’s cool how our identical projects didn’t turn out identical at all!

DIY Growth Chart Ruler 8

Since I’m not using this completed project yet, I’m in no hurry to hang it up, but I’m working on deciding where I want it to go. While I originally thought I’d put it on a skinny wall somewhere, like the hallway, I’m not sure that’s where I want it. (It’s really difficult to take a good hallway photo. Boo.)

Finished Ruler Growth Chart 2

Of course, that might be exactly where I want it…

Finished Ruler Growth Chart 3

Or maybe next to a tall piece of furniture? UPDATE: If you’re curious how we hung this on the wall, check out THIS POST.

Finished Ruler Growth Chart

No matter where it ends up, I’m pretty sure it will be super fun to mark our kiddos’ heights on there as they grow! And we can take it with us if/when we move! Genius, huh? Plus, it was super cheap to make since we already had pretty much everything we needed. Even if you didn’t, I still think you could make this for $25 or so.

  • Board – $7.22
  • Sander/Sand Paper – Free (Already Had)
  • Stain – Free (Already Had)
  • Pre-Stain Conditioner  – $5.98 (Almost all of it is still leftover)
  • Top Coat – Free (Already Had)
  • Paint/Brushes – Free (Already Had)
  • Numbers – $6.23 (Almost all of them leftover–we could make more!)

Total – $19.43 (Less than $20—score!)

Finished Ruler Growth Chart 4

Anyway, I had a great time with Liz on this super fast, easy project. Be sure to check out her post on the same project. Hers turned out awesome and even though they were the same project, they look really unique!

DIY Growth Chart Ruler 9

Do you mark your children’s height on the wall? Do you do projects WAY in advance of when you need them, just for fun? Any ideas on where our ruler should go? Let’s hear about it!

UPDATE: If you’re curious how we hung this on the wall, check out THIS POST.

Want to see other DIY projects we’ve tackled? Check out more, here! Or, see what we’re currently working on, here. Also, be sure to “like” us on Facebook and follow on instagram! Thanks for reading!

34 thoughts on “Ready to Grow: DIY Oversized Ruler Growth Chart

  1. Susan

    I am curious/perplexed. Why did you not position the numbers so they can be read vertically instead of horizontally since your intent is to mount the board vertically to measure height as opposed to mounting it horizontally to measure width?

    1. Jill

      I would think it is because it mimics a ruler from grade school.

      1. Elizabeth

        That’s why. There were both options in the pictures we found online, but we decided to do the numbers “sideways” since if you had an actual giant ruler and laid it on its side, the numbers would be sideways. I had already decided to do mine that way, but Melissa looked between the choices for a while before deciding for sure. I think both ways look fine though.

    2. Melissa Post author

      Jill and Elizabeth got it right, It’s because it looks more like a ruler that way. Thanks for helping out with an answer guys!

  2. Donita

    Love it. I just made Sharpie marks on the concrete walls in the basement

    1. Melissa Post author

      Yea! That is more traditional I think, but this way you can take it with you when you move! 🙂

  3. Amanda

    How long did you make your ticks? I notice there are 3 different lengths and I want my board to have different lengths as well!

    1. Melissa Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Amanda! Ours are 1 inch, 2 inches, and 4 inches long (where the numbers are), to mimic the look of a ruler ticks being different lengths for the 1/8, 1/4 and 1/2 inch lengths. Hope that helps!

    1. Melissa Post author

      I used black paint, but my friend used a sharpie. Either works well! Thanks for the question and good luck!

  4. Amanda

    I really want to make one! Can you mark kids heights in sharpie on it?

    1. Melissa Post author

      Yes! (Depending on how dark your board is, you might want to try both a silver and a black Sharpie marker to see which shows up better.) Good luck!

  5. Stefanie

    I just finished making mine!! How did you mount it to the wall?

  6. Yvone Scott

    Should I add the clear enamal after i paint the lines? to prevent chipping?

    1. Melissa Post author

      Hi, Yvone! Thanks for the question. We didn’t do that. We applied the clear coat before painting the lines, and haven’t had any trouble with chipping yet. If you’re worried, I’m sure adding a coat of enamel on top wouldn’t hurt though!

  7. Erin

    This is an excellent post! I love how they both turned out! I am going to start soon but cannot find those numbers. Do you have a link or suggestion? I love that they were under 3″. Thanks so much!

    1. Melissa Post author

      Thanks! I’m so glad it was helpful for you! I found those numbers at Wal-Mart in the back of the store with the mailboxes. Good luck!

  8. Courtney

    I used your tutorial to make my own and everyone I know LOVES it! They have all been asking me to make them one! Thanks for this post!! <3

    1. Melissa Post author

      Aw, that makes me so happy! I’m glad it turned out well and thanks for sharing your results! 🙂

  9. Kat

    Hi there, I purchased a board and sanded it down so it was nice and smooth but found that after I stained and applied the top spray, the board ended up feeling rough. Did you have the same experience? Thanks!

    1. Melissa Post author

      Well, my only guess is that perhaps the stain and top coat had bubbles or other rough spots when they were applied? You also would need to make sure you are working in the right conditions. Cold weather can cause paint and sealers to bubble or crack as they dry. Other than that, I’m not sure why that would happen. I hope it works out for you, though! Good luck, and if you have other specific questions, feel free to ask!

  10. Bobbie

    They both came out beautiful, my kids are now grown but I am going to make one for my grandkids who are 3 yrs and 4 yrs. It is a good thing you are making these things for future kids “NOW” because once they are here, you don’t ever find enough time to get everything done. So make all the projects you want now and that way you will have more time to enjoy your little ones and all your homemade (from the heart) projects when they are here. Grandma Bobbie

    1. Melissa Post author

      Thanks! We actually had our first son in July…and I totally get that a lot of our projects are going to take MUCH longer now!

  11. Preeti

    How long did it take you to complete the project once u had all supplies?

    1. Melissa Post author

      Sanding, staining, and sealing your board takes the most time as you need to allow for dry time. Maybe factor in a weekend for the whole project, but hands on time is probably only a couple hours.


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