A mounting pattern is a full size layout of the letters you order. If ordered on more than one line it will be created as such. If you want left, center, right or even staggered, vertical or on an arc layout, we can accommodate that with some help from you.
Mounting patterns can be expensive, especially for lots of small letters. Buying one can save you plenty of time and ensure a perfect outcome with professional alignment and for any type of drilling operation on stud type mounts, knowing where to drill holes is very important.
However, this article is not about the benefits of buying a mounting pattern, it is about what if you don't buy one and you are convinced you can align the letters without one. So, here we go !
The first thing you need to know is that letters and numbers are not all the same size and I don't mean in just width. You may order 10" letters and find that some are 10" and some are 10.5". This can be confusing at first until you understand why that difference is necessary.
First stop: Read why your letters are not all the same size It will enlighten you and prepare you for the next section.
So, you now know why you should not draw a base line and set your letters on it. Actually, that's not entirely true. If you have no round letters in the bunch and they are all capitals, double check by measuring them and if they are all the same size you can use a baseline.
However, consider this set of letters:
or this set if lowercase are involved
NON-STUD MOUNTED LETTERS
Measure a flat top/bottom letter like an "E" and divide by 2. Using some masking tape lay out a center line on the wall where the top of the tape is the centerline of the letters. Now measure down and up from there to the distance of half the "E" and apply another length of masking tape making sure you keep it as straight as possible. For the top line the bottom of the masking tape is the upper dimension and for the bottom tape, the top of the tape is the lower dimension. Place letter "E" between tapes and it should fit between the tapes. Remove the center tape.
Kerning is the art of ensuring distances between letters are even. For this there are no rules. You use your eyes. This is the only time when a spacing tape for $10 is useful ! Without it you will need to make one by laying out the letters on the floor in a straight line. First, determine how long you want the line of letter to be. Mark that on the floor with masking tape. Now start laying down the letters sort of equally, at first then making adjustments as you go. When you are happy with the spacing, start marking the masking tape for the center of each letter and what letter it is.
Ok so now you have a spacing tape, take it to the wall and tape it underneath that bottom line. Now you can start placing the letters on the wall. Start with all the flat top/bottom letters. Tape each letter in place. Then add all the round letters "O C" etc positioning them so the float equally over the bounding tapes, centered on the flat letters. For letters that are only round on one end like a "U", the flat part aligns to the top masking tape, the round part to the bottom of the round letters.
Step back and admire. Adjust as needed. Use a small bubble level to make sure letters are not tilted. Now go ahead and glue or double side tape the letters to the wall. If using doubleside tape add small spots of clear silicon caulk to make sure the letters wont fall off if the tape dries out. Again use the level to keep letters plumb.
Once finished make final adjustments if possible and remove the tapes.
DRILLING PATTERNS FOR STUDS
If you have ordered letters to be attached by any of the stud methods, you will need to drill and you SHOULD buy the pattern. However, some people cannot resist saving a buck. That never ever worked out for me but if it did for you, more power to you. Personally, my time is worth more than the cost of the mounting pattern and my patience is limited also so take my advice and spring for the pattern AND KEEP IT for later use in case you decide to move the letters.
At the factory, they create these patterns on a very long table by laying all the letters out on a roll of grided kraft paper, kerning the letters visually then tracing the outlines of the letters on the paper. Afterwards they do the "pointy studs" hover over tracings and push down to mark paper, then put an X on the mark. If you can do that with your letters then do it.
On a side note, some products require that if you buy more than one set of letters, say for a 2 sided sign, then you need 2 patterns. This is because of the manufacturing process where on some products the stud drilling and tapping, welding or placement of threaded stud blocks are done as a secondary operation and are not necessarily the same even if there are identical letters. You can overcome this with ONE pattern as long as you are willing to create pointy studs (see below) then use the pattern you get to install the first set and for the second set re-mark the stud locations back to the first pattern. Note that each letter on the pattern has a number and each letter in your set has a corresponding number on the back of it. MAKE SURE YOU SORT THE LETTERS FIRST. The second set will likely not have labels with numbers.
If you decide not to buy the pattern at all, then do this. Figure out the maximum amount of studs in any one letter, 3,4,5,6,7,8 etc, and then if the letters are going on a softish surface and you have a grinder, grind one stud of each of the total number needed, to a point on one end only. If not then skip that step. Go ahead and put down masking tape as per above instructions for non stud mounted letters. These act as your guidelines. Also go ahead and create a spacing tape per above so you know where letters are to be placed. Transfer that to the wall. Now take those pointed studs and screw the blunt ends into the back of one letter filling up all available holes or bosses. Take the letter to the wall and if drywall press the letter in to mark the wall ensuring you keep the letter as upright and between the tape lines as possible. If not drywall, have a helper reach around the letter with a black pointy marker and mark where the studs fall. By the way, this is not 100% accurate. Some adjustments to the holes will be necessary since you want the studs to fit in the holes smoothly, not tight and not sloppy.