Refurbishing vintage lighted signs

Who doesn’t love vintage? When one of my clients contacted me about refurbishing a vintage lighted sign for her business, I couldn’t help but be excited for the opportunity to do something different!

Here are the supplies used to refurbish the sign:

  • Vinyl (I used Outdoor Vinyl)
  • Squeegee
  • Application Fluid (mine was home made)
  • Secret ingredient (“I’ve got a guy”)

The sign originally had been painted.


I didn’t know of a way to get the paint off without damaging the plastic, so I recommended she take it to a friend at a local body shop (“I’ve got a guy”). He was able to remove the paint AND polish up the plastic to a wonderful gloss.

We considered the option of creating a stencil, and then painting the sign. However that meant it would have to go back to the body shop if she ever decided to change it. That pretty much sealed the deal for using vinyl for the new lettering.

It is a two color design, so I applied the main color first.  Next, I sprayed application fluid over the sign and the back side of the second color of vinyl.


The application fluid gave me the opportunity to slide the red vinyl around until it fit into the ‘M’ perfectly. Then I just had to carefully squeegee out the fluid. And, Ta Da!


Later today I’ll reassemble the sign at her shop and get a photo of it lighted for all of us to see.


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About Cuttin' with KNK (Michele)

I am the proud mother of 2 grown children, waiting for grandchildren some day. I've been married to my best friend since 1988. I have been crafting since I was a girl - I can't even remember a time when I wasn't creating something, and I've tried nearly everything. I discovered KNK in 2009 and have loved the company and its products ever since. The machines are so versatile and enhance my own creativity. It is rare that I make something without my KNKs.

26 thoughts on “Refurbishing vintage lighted signs

  1. I can’t wait to see the finished product. I have a pharmacist friend that wanted a sign on his door. I don’t have a problem with small projects, but I didn’t so so well with the large project. I pulled it down due to many air bubbles between the glass and vinyl.

    • I tape my completed lettering, with backing material and transfer tape intact, to the substrate. Then I cut it into multiple sections – preferably the width of a squeegee if that is possible – while the masking tape holds the hold thing in place. Next I peel the backing material off one section and apply it, continuing across the design. I squeegee a section from one end to the other, in one smooth swipe and get no or few bubbles. I love the application fluid for this reason (it is very similar to the wet application of a screen protector).

  2. Fantastic job. I’ll be excited to see how it looks lighted. What is application fluid and why do you use it?

    • There are many ‘recipes’ out there for homemade application fluid. Some include alcohol to assist in drying, but I clean my surface with alcohol versus mixing it in. Application fluid: Mix 1/2 tsp of dish washing detergent (a variety without lotion or moisturizer) in a 1 qt fine mist sprayer bottle. Use liberally. It gives you time to pull the vinyl off and reposition it. It simplifies bubble-free application on a smooth surface.

  3. oh these are wonderful….i love the old signs and these are sooo well done…great job!!!

  4. Great project. Can you share what application fluid is for and how you make your own? Pretty please!!!

    • Oh yes, do try it! One other tip – be cognizant of the type of transfer tape you are using. A paper type transfer tape may weaken when wet. if you have the time, you can simply let it dry out overnight before peeling it off. Otherwise, keep some plastic-based transfer tape around for this occasion.

  5. Wow!!! You did an outstanding job. I love the use of the application fluid. I will keep that recipe. Looking forward to seeing the sign all lit up.

  6. Great post, Michelle! And thanks for sharing the recipe for the your application fluid. There are so many crafters who are unaware of how it can be used to help in alignment of vinyl.

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