DIY Subway Art {Picture Tutorial}

I love all the subway art that you can find online. I love the ones here, but could never pay $90 for one! Today I’m going to show how you can make it for a fraction of the cost. Here is what you need:

Subway how to

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1 piece of wood {mine is 10X24 inches}

2 Colors of Spray Paint {I used Valspar Smoke Infusion & Krylon Blue Ocean Breeze}

Vinyl Lettering in the design of your choice {mine is made with contact paper}

Sandpaper or Sander{I always forget to get it in the picture!}

First take your piece of wood and sand down any rough edges, then paint it with the color you want your words to be in. I bought a 1x10x48 inch piece from Lowes for $5.89 and cut it in half (so I have another piece for a different project). If you don’t have a saw they will cut it for you at Lowes if you ask nicely.  I wanted my words in Blue Ocean Breeze so I put about 2 coats on my wood. I let it dry overnight because it is really humid here in Arkansas right now.

spray blue 

While your wood is drying cut your vinyl out. If you don’t have a cutter you can find a friend who has one and will cut it for you or order it online.  {You can also type out what you want and trace it onto your wood, but that is a little more work.}


I used my Silhouette to cut my contact paper-since I’m just using it for a stencil and won’t be keeping it on my project I went with the cheaper contact paper. It works just as well as vinyl, but costs a lot less. You can download my silhouette file here if you would like to make you own! It is a studio file so it only works in the Silhouette Studio.


Weed off the unwanted portions and apply the transfer paper. {I also use clear contact paper for my transfer paper. It is easier to buy at the local stores and costs a lot less than the transfer paper for vinyl}

lining up

I peel off just part of the backing paper and get it lined up nice and straight before I take the rest of the paper off. It is easier to work in smaller sections when you are doing a big project like this. {Trust me I’ve messed up many a project by taking all the paper backing off.}

apply vinyl

Use a scraper to get it down good on the wood


Then remove the transfer paper (or clear contact paper) Make sure each letter is pressed firmly down. You don’t want any paint seeping underneath the letters.

contact paper

Now you are ready to spray paint your top color. I used Valspar Smoke Infusion.

gray paint

It took about 2 coats. Let it dry, mine took about and hour because it was raining so my garage was really humid.


Peel off the letters and look at the magic! No paint bled through and the letters all look nice and crisp.

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I wanted my edges a little distressed so I did a little more sanding to rough it up. It is hard to see in the picture, but the blue shows through in some spots and I really like how it looks

distressed edge

I added this to hang it up on the wall with.


Hang it up and enjoy your new homemade art!



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So here’s a breakdown of the cost:

wood $2.99

Gray Spray paint: $4.48

Blue spray paint: leftover from another project

Vinyl words: free {used old contact paper}

Total OP: $7.47 {+ the time to make it} much better than the $90 to buy it already made!!

When you see things that you would LOVE to buy, but can’t afford it, you can usually figure out how to make it for a lot less. I’m thinking signs like this would be fun to make for Christmas gifts this year. They are quick to make and you can customize it match anyone’s décor.


Types: Art, Crafts, Adult, Teen
Categories: Inside The House

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