Wall decor letters have risen in popularity, packing the shelves of every Hobby Lobby, Target and Pier One across the nation. Many letters have been made with a "vintage look" which only makes them more desirable. But what if you find the real deal? There are actual vintage relics hanging on the walls of long-closed shops or hiding in the back of someone's garage, just waiting to be discovered by the right person.
We happened to run across our very own set of truly vintage letters in a tattered box in a friend's barn. The letters were constructed of a hard, plastic material with a once shiny, black finish.
The letters were dirty and faded after years of use and storage, but we saw potential in the scrambled pile. Some of the shiny finish had worn from some, but others remained perfectly intact under the weathered surface.
My weapons of choice: an old washcloth, a pair of protective gloves and some Kramer's Best Antique Improver.
At RoofTop Antiques, we spend our days working with the old and the beautiful. Sometimes the items that come walking through our door are far more old than beautiful, and they’re almost always covered in something - dirt, dust, grime or the remnants of an unfortunate painting slip. Back in the early 2000’s, when we started working with antiques for re-sale (read how we got our start here), we found Kramer’s Best Antique Improver for sale at a local antique mall. We were skeptical. It seemed a bit pricey for a small bottle of unknown liquid, but we took a gamble.
We brought it home, tried it out and quickly became believers. We’ve been using the product for more than 12 years now. I think we can fairly accurately call ourselves experts through experience, though we had never tried using Kramer's Best on one of the advertised materials: plastic. These letters presented us with the perfect opportunity.
With this project, I would only need a tiny bit of Kramer's Best Antique Improver for each letter. For larger projects, we would usually pour a bit of the liquid gold into a bowl, but here I was able to apply a small amount straight from bottle to rag.
The next step in the process was simple: gently rub the letter down. It was fun to watch the reversal of damage as years of life were re-applied to the letter's existence.
Here is my dear letter "B" at the half-way point. The results seen here aren't superficial. I let the Kramer's sit for a few moments, and then I wiped the letter dry. This simple cleaning process replenished and restored the plastic, bringing it back to its original brilliance. The places where the shiny finish had worn away are not as brilliant, but I was pleased with the results.
Can you take a little guess which two letters were finished first?
Here's a little before and after comparison up-close and personal. The after picture was taken a week after my little DIY project was complete. The results are just as apparent now as they were when I first finished.
You may not have a rusted mailbox (see those results in our Instagram picture, found here) or large, plastic letters to clean, but Kramer's can be used almost anywhere. We recently had a friend use the product to clean his faded shutters. They were quickly restored to their original, bright color. He was so pleased with the results that he went on to "Kramerize" his entire front door.
If you would like to see more about Kramer's Best Antique Improver, you can check out our favorite products page. You can also go straight to the product page. We also invite you to check out our YouTube Channel to see some of our tutorial videos featuring the product.