This faux boxwood wall & DIY neon sign was a total showstopper piece from our rooftop patio makeover! You might remember us sharing the before post that Alyssa put together right here. She also manned this awesome faux boxwood wall & DIY neon sign to go with it!
To me, boxwood walls are always so cozy and inviting. I love how they can give you that feeling of privacy while also bringing in an element of nature to your space. Plus, this element of nature is 100% no maintenance, which is a total victory for any black thumbs out there!
While this is a fairly involved DIY, it’s totally do-able and the end result is so satisfying and perfect for any time of the year. Especially here in Houston when everyone else’s winter is our saving grace the insane heat!…
EL Wire in the color of your choice
Depending on the size of your design, you’ll need to print out a guide. Since we wanted our sign to be about 6′ wide, I had the phrase printed out as an engineering print. These are really inexpensive ($5 or so) using your local print shop.
Using the print as your guide, start forming the letting using your wire. The pliers really help when it comes to forming the big bends in the letters. I found that it was super helpful to weigh down letters that are finished with a heavy bowl or paperweight so you can work on the next letter without the rest of the word flying around.
Once you finish forming all the letters with the wire, bend each word to be as flat as possible. Then lay the wire phrase down on the boxwood panels and figure out your placement. When you start threading the EL wire through the boxwood, you can’t really move words around anymore, so make sure you like the placement!
Making sure to leave a some room for the EL wire controller to hang behind the boxwood panel where you can reach it, start by threading the EL wire from the back to the front of the boxwood. Apply some E6000 glue to your wire template and carefully mold the EL wire to the wire template. It helps to have another set of hands here, but it’s possible to do alone! As you glue, have twist ties handy to secure the wires together while the glue dries. The E6000 glue takes about 24-48 hours to cure completely, so it’s important to have something holding them together.
Your letters will look like a crazy, twist-tied mess at this point, but that means you’re doing it right! After about two hours or so, I removed the twist ties from the easy bends so the glue wouldn’t fuse to the them completely. It doesn’t hurt to leave the twist ties on the bigger bends a little longer to give those points more time to cure. If there’s any rouge glue messiness on the side and front of the letters, it’s easy to pick off at the end.
When the glue has finished curing and you’ve removed all of the twist ties, it’s time to attach the words more securely to the boxwood. The boxwood panels come with green zip ties, which are perfect for camouflaging. I found 4 to 6 spots per word where I could feed the zip tie between the wire and EL wire and loosely secure to the boxwood. If you need to, you can carefully use an xacto knife to cut the glue between the wires to make room for the zip tie. Accidentally securing the zip tie too tight and the word will start to get lost in the leaves. If that happens, just snip the zip tie and try again with a new one.
Once everything is attached, you’ll need to hid the excess wire from shining through the front. Gorilla tape was perfect for this purpose since it’s durable (for being outside) and opaque. Wind up the excess wire, put a piece of tape between the wire and the boxwood to hide it, then another piece of tape on top of the wire to secure it. A tape sandwich, if you will!
Do the same with the wires that are sticking through the back between each word.
Measure twice, cut once! After carefully measuring the walls where we wanted to install the boxwood, I did the math to figure out how to cut the pieces I needed out of two 4′ by 8′ pieces of pressure treated plywood. There’s two important things I wanted to note there! Since we wanted to install on exterior paneling (that’s not meant to be drilled into very much), it was important to break up the weight of the wall into 3 or 4 separate panels (we used 4 panels). Also, if this is for an outdoor installation, it’s very important to either buy the pressure treated plywood, or seal the wood yourself using wood sealer. Otherwise, the wood will start to rot! For one less step, just go for the pressure treated plywood!
The neon phrase took up four 20″ boxwood panels, so before I started going crazy attaching panels to the plywood, I measured out and marked exactly where I wanted the phrase to be on the wall. Then I started stapling panels to the plywood starting with full panels, and then cut panels down to fit around the edges.
Since this installation was going up in a rental, it was important to make sure it was easily removable. By attaching the D-ring hangers to the plywood, it’s easy to take the wall down just like a regular picture hanger. We hid the screws under the top ledge of the exterior wall so they’d be less noticeable after removal.
It shows up well in the daylight and it’s so fun to see it light up at night! The EL wire set has a three different settings ranging from a steady light to a blinking rave party. A choose-your-own party vibe, if you will! If your faux boxwood wall & DIY neon sign are going to be exposed to the elements, it’s probably best to remove the battery packs and reattach them when you’re ready to use them.