Like most kids, my parents had a doorway in our home that was the designated height-marking doorway. It held years of height-related memories—until one day, during a well-intentioned chore, every single marking was wiped away. If we’d had a real height chart, there would have been no confusion—and my growth spurts would have been immortalized. Today, we’re creating a height chart that doubles as an art piece.
This project was suggested to me by the same friend who sent me the baby gym. In keeping with the Dunn DIY theme, I kept the color palette the same so these two pieces can work together as a set. You can coordinate it to the colors in your room, too. I love how simple yet personal this project is, and, like the baby gym, this one is a fun shower gift. It’s also great for new traditions around your own home.
Step 1: Cut
Today we’re using a piece of one-by-six spruce cut to 74”. You can use any kind of wood—it’s really a matter of preference. Spruce will be one of the most cost-effective options.
We wanted our height chart to go up to 78” (or 6 1/2'), so factoring in our 4” tall baseboard—we cut our spruce one-by-six to 74”. Your family and your space will differ—feel free to shorten or extend the height of your board based on your needs.
To make the cut, clamp the board to your work surface. Using a speed square or a combination square, mark where you’ll make your cut. Then cut with a hand saw or whatever you have on hand. This is the only cut, so you can also make it easy on yourself and have it done for the cost of nothing at Dunn Lumber.
Step 2: Sand
Sand the cut end and any rough edges, potential splinters, or smudges. (Smudges are the most likely thing to sand out if you're using spruce.)
Step 3: Tape
This next step is the bulk of the project, and it requires some careful attention. With tape, we’re marking out lines (which will be painted a bit later to resemble the hash marks on a ruler). To get that look, each line will be a different length or width. You'll want to decide where you’ll be placing the lines—just below the inch line, just above the inch line, or centered evenly over the inch line. We placed our tape just above the inch line, but it’s totally up to you—just be consistent.
We’re using a smaller size masking tape than you probably already have lying around your home: 3/4". We’re going with this size to cut down on steps—normal-width tape is too wide to tape off multiple lines at the same time, and if you don’t tape off multiple lines at the same time, you’ll add to your workload enormously. It’s also worth noting that we went through nearly an entire roll of tape, so make sure you have enough when you get started.
Now it’s time to make the height lines using a ruler and a combination square. Start by marking each foot with a pencil, then tape out a 1/4"-wide and 1 1/4"-long line above the foot mark. Mark every half foot, then tape out a 1/4"-wide and 7/8"-long line above the half foot mark. Mark every even number in between and tape off a 1/8"-wide and 3/4"-long line above those marks. Mark all the odd numbers and tape off a 1/8"-wide and 1/2"-long line above these marks.
A few tips: Make sure the tape is pressed down well or the paint will seep under the edges and bleed the lines—you don’t need to tape down the sides of the board. Leave little tails when you press down the tape—otherwise it’ll take twice as long to remove it once the paint is dry. (I know this because I did it the first time.)
This is the most tedious, time-consuming part of the project, and it requires some patience! This is a great time to grab a friend to tape while you mark, or listen to an audiobook. It’s a breeze after you tape everything—I promise.
Step 4: Paint
Next, we’re painting using a small paint brush. Our paint colors were chosen based on the Dunn DIY palette, but you can choose whichever colors you’d like based on your home (or your giftee’s home).
I painted a rainbow of colors in different sections.
To follow the pattern we did, start at the bottom with red and paint up to the 1’ 6” mark. Then switch to orange and paint from the 1’ 6” mark to the 2’ 6” mark. Follow this pattern all the way up, going from orange to yellow to green to turquoise to blue—and be sure not to get carried away and overpaint a section! It helps to draw some marks at the foot and half-foot sections so you can easily keep track of things. Make sure you’re painting strokes from the middle of the board out so you’re not painting against the tape and lifting it up. The red, orange, and yellow took two coats, and the greens and blues were fine with one coat.
Let dry for 20 minutes or so. (I love that acrylic paint dries so quickly.)
Step 5: Remove tape
This step is pretty self-explanatory!
Step 6: Add vinyl numbers
Once the tape is removed, add vinyl numbers to mark each foot. I ordered mine from Amazon, but you could also paint them on with a stencil or write with an acrylic paint pen. My theory here is if you spend this much time taping and painting marks, you won’t want to spend time taping and painting numbers—hence the vinyl numbers!
I started by cutting out each number from the sheet to figure out where it’d line up on the height chart. I used 4” tall numbers, which was great because I could use the inch marks on the board as a guide. For some of the numbers, I used a combination square to help get them straight; other ones I just eyeballed—it’s totally up to you how careful you want to get. After you use up all your patience on the tape, you might want to just get it done!
Step 7: Hang
I recommend using a simple sawtooth hanger to hang this on a wall from the top of the chart. Reinforce the bottom of the chart with a sticking strip (you can find the Command ones by 3M at Dunn Lumber). You can also use a ring hanger—a figure-eight hanger that screws into the project and the wall. An alternative and slightly more permanent option is driving screws through the height chart straight into your studs. There are a lot of different methods—find the one that works best for your home.
Step 8: Mark Someone's Height
When it comes time to mark a person's height, you can use an acrylic paint marker to maintain consistency, or whatever you have on-hand. That’s what makes these so fun!
All the taping is worth it for a final product that matches your style and holds your memories for a lifetime. I think the look of this height chart is so pretty, and it’s actually adding something valuable to a room vs. just scribbling on a door frame in pencil (no offense, parents!). Plus, a portable height chart (like today’s project) means you can take the sweet reminders of the past with you if you move.