I stained my wood board in the color “special walnut”. You can choose to paint or stain yours. If you stain it don’t forget to clear coat with something so you don’t get the stain all over your thread. If painted, it’s a one step deal. Without measuring how far off I wanted the letters from the bottom I simply lined the paper with the wood and measured the gaps in between the letters to make sure they are even. Then I taped them off and started nailing in.