How to Refinish a Texas Historical Marker

As I travel around searching for Historical Markers I often see some that are in pretty bad shape. A lot of them are discolored or have been shot at or even leaning due to being hit by a vehicle. The saddest ones are the ones that are no longer there. It just ticks me off when someone steals them for no reason. These markers tell a story. They are there because someone wanted to keep the history alive. Read it, take a picture of it, but don’t remove it. If you must put your hands on it, maybe you can just do your part and bring it back to life by following the steps below. These instructions are on the Texas Historical Commissions website if you would like to print out the instructions.  I have attached a video showing the steps as well. Thanks for reading.

Tools and materials you need to clean or repair the surface of a marker on a post

  • painter’s mask
  • stiff wire brush (stainless steel works best)
  • soft bristle scrub brush
  • spray bottle or bucket of water
  • soap
  • towel
  • can of clear lacquer spray paint
  • can of black lacquer spray paint
  • cotton rags
  • lacquer thinner
  • 80 grit and 120 grit sandpaper
  • power sander or hand sanding block
  • roll of two-inch painter’s masking tape

NOTE: If refinishing a marker attached to a building or surface, cover the surrounding surface with poster board, paper or a tarp to prevent over-spray of the paint.

” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>How to Refinish a Texas Historical Marker Video

Step by Step Instructions for Repairing Your Marker

Step 1

Hands hold a brush running over a Texas state historical marker sign

Use a stiff wire brush to remove flaking or other debris; always use a side-to-side or left-to-right motion while cleaning the surface. Debris may also stick inside the raised lettering. If this happens, carefully use a sharp tool or knife to remove debris.

Step 2

A hand paints a historical market sign

Use a soft bristle brush to remove dust and other debris around letters. If available, use a portable air blower to remove fine particles.

Step 3

A hand scrubs a historical marker sign

Thoroughly clean the marker surface with soap and water. Towel dry and allow time for the marker surface to dry completely.

Step 4

Hands place painters' tape along the edge of a historical marker

Apply two inch painter’s masking tape to the border and base of the marker.

Step 5

Black lacquer covers the entire surface of a historical marker in the process of restoration

Apply two even coats of an automotive black lacquer (spray) to the entire surface of the marker. Allow the black lacquer to dry completely. Use a painter’s mask to avoid inhalation of spray paint.

Step 6

A hand wipes black lacquer off the type and logo on a historical marker in the process of restoration

Remove dried black lacquer from the medallion and title letters with a soft cotton cloth and lacquer thinner. Use care not to remove the black lacquer on the flat surface portions of the medallion and area surrounding title letters. Allow marker to dry completely.

Step 7

A person sands the letters on a historical marker to remove black lacquer in the process of restoration

After removing masking tape from the marker border and base, use a battery-powered or electric sander and 80 grit sandpaper or a hand sanding block to remove black lacquer from raised text. Use care not to remove black lacquer from flat surface areas. Lightly use the sander to clean marker border and base. Use 120 grit sandpaper to manually polish border and raised medallion.

Step 8

A hand uses a small brush to brush off letters on a historical marker in the process of restoration

Remove fine debris with paint or bristle scrub brush. If available, use an electric or battery-powered air blower to remove fine debris.

Step 9

A clean historical marker

Apply two even coats of clear lacquer spray paint to the entire surface of the historical marker.

Step 10

A newly restored historical marker in front of a victorian style home

Step back and admire your work; you now have a historical marker that has been renewed to its original splendor.