No matter what style of house you’re in, there are lots of tricks to enhancing the style and vibe of your home. Some architectural styles like Spanish Colonial, Craftsman, Victorian, Gothic, Greek Revival, and even Modern have distinctive characteristics you can use to your advantage. When it comes to either staying consistent with your home’s architectural style, or further enhancing that style, it’s all about the details. One little detail that can make a subtle but important impression is the style of the address numbers you use. By choosing a style of house numbers that’s consistent with the look of your home you can add some serious but relatively inexpensive curb appeal. In the case of our Spanish or Mission style home, I went on the prowl for some cool tile address numbers, and then documented a how-to of a simple installation option.
That search led me to SpanishPlates.com where they had numerous ceramic house numbers that were a great fit for Mission Style architecture. They agreed to send us a set of tiles for this article which then prompted a debate about how to mount the address numbers. Our old numbers, which you can see here in the before picture, were simply nailed in. By the way, that’s not an installation method I necessarily recommend on stucco. I also don’t recommend drinking heavily during the install, which is apparently what the previous installer did when he was “aligning/leveling” the numbers. The iffy previous install made the old numbers so easy to pull off I’m surprised they didn’t slide out in the last earthquake.
I thought about having a decorative metal frame made and I also considered making a rustic looking wood frame. Ultimately I decided the design of the tile and the decorative band that surrounds the numbers lent themselves to simple installation directly on the stucco. For adhering the ceramic house number tiles to the stucco, SpanishPlates.com recommended either mortar or Liquid Nails. I opted for the latter since I wasn’t excited about buying a huge bag of mortar mix to install six small tiles.
Prep Your Surface
The first thing I did was give my wall a good scrub-down with a soft bristle brush and some warm water. I could have used a pressure washer, but given the age of our stucco, it probably would have blasted the stucco right off the wall. The idea here is to clean the surface without damaging it, and chunks of missing stucco doesn’t usually boost curb appeal. Once washed, I made sure the wall had plenty of time to dry to ensure proper bonding for the adhesive.
Mockup Your House Numbers for Proper Placement
Before you go crazy mortaring, glueing or drilling for whatever style of address numbers you’re installing, it’s a good idea to mock things up. Since I didn’t want to drop the tiles and they weren’t easy to have someone hold in place, I opted to sketch a quick “replica” of the tiles. As you can see, if this blogging thing doesn’t work out, I unfortunately can’t fall back on my drawing skills for a lucrative artist career. To make sure they looked OK, I then taped the replica where I thought I wanted the numbers. A little extra effort finding the right placement now can save you some serious grief and patching work later. Oh, and make sure you pick a location that’s clearly visible from the street or you’ll seriously piss off your mailman or delivery drivers.
How To Install the Address Numbers
If you’re using ceramic house number tiles like these, keep in mind there’s an up and a down (based on the shadow). If you mess up the orientation on some or all of them, it will look super-cheesy, which is probably not the style you’re going for. I used a “Small Project” sized tube of Liquid Nails which turned out to be the perfect quantity of adhesive for my project. My stucco is very rough and uneven which meant I needed to be pretty liberal with the glue application. If your surface is smoother, you’ll likely need less adhesive. I back-battered each tile with a relatively even distribution of glue before wiggling them gently into place. Try not to bulk-up on glue near the edges of the tile though. You want to avoid getting any ooze or overflow around the tile edges or between tiles. I had a little ooze near one tile which I quickly cleaned up with a damp towel. Using an adhesive that dries clear is another option.
Get Level and Support the Tile
If you just eyeball your install, chances are you’ll wind up with house numbers that look like they’re ready to ski off K2. And if you don’t support the tile once they’re in place, you might find them laying on the ground the next morning. To solve both of these issues I grabbed a straight piece of wood, my two foot level, and a single ZipWall pole. If you don’t happen to have a ZipWall pole, a 2×4 or some other long scrap lumber can work too. The ZipWall pole was handy since it has some spring action at the head to help hold the block in place. I then braced the straight piece of wood, leveled it and used it as a template and support for the tiles.
Babysit Your Tiles
Since the Liquid Nails I was using takes a while to set and cure, I went out with my level and gave the tiles a few extra pushes and nudges to keep everything in place. After an hour or two or babysitting, and with the ZipWall rig still in place for support, I was pretty convinced the house numbers were not going to get into trouble unsupervised. I let the glue set for about 24 hours before I removed the support the next day. Here are our new mission style house numbers installed and ready to delight our mailman:
SpanishPlates.com offers a Lifetime Warranty on their address tiles: “Each set of address tiles comes with a full lifetime warranty that covers any type of fading, cracking, or signs of wear when used under normal conditions.” Despite the “Portugal” stamp on the tile itself, SpanishPlates.com products are “Handmade in Spain by artisans from generations of families who have followed this [cuerda seca] traditional technique just the way it was practiced in the 15th century.”
Depending on size and style, the tiles run about $8-$15 each, plus around $20 a pair for the endcap tiles. In addition to their Spanish address tiles, SpanishPlates.com also offers a full line of products including decorative spanish tiles, clocks, mirrors, and other similarly-themed decor (even tile thermometers)! Of course, if you’re not into the Spanish or Mission Style house numbers tile look, you can find just about every style imaginable by googling “house numbers” or “address numbers.” Your local Lowes or Home Depot will also have a selection to choose from, however sometimes going with a specialty hardware retailer can yield more unique and dramatic results.