Budget friendly Neon Sign DIY

Budget friendly neon sign DIY

When I first started seeing neon signs everywhere, I remember thinking that I wanted to get one for each room of my apartment. I spent an afternoon scrolling Pinterest and looking for ideas. I had prepared a PDF with sizes and instructions and sent it to one of the vendors we partner with to get a quotation.
I was super excited until the quote arrived and I realised one thing:

neons are ridiculously expensive!

I did not see that coming, especially since I live in China! All sorts of stuff are crazy cheap here, so I called and asked if they made a mistake. NOPE. No mistakes, they're just expensive.

I did not let that discourage me and after some research, I found a good neon substitute that costs 10x less! So here's my budget-friendly neon DIY:


・It's cheap!
・It's battery powered so you don't have to plug it anywhere.
・It's not as fragile as the real ones.


・The sign won't be as bright as an actual neon, especially in the daytime.
・This DIY takes some time to make so make sure you free your schedule for at least 2 hours.


Budget friendly neon sign DIY


01. A foam board, any size (I got a picture printed on mine but you don't necessarily have to)

02. EL wire + battery pack, any color

03. Hot-glue gun or superglue

04. Pliers

05. Pencil, blank paper, tape


Start by sketching the words on some A4 or A3 paper, figure out the size and style. Once you're happy with the result, place the papers on your board and retrace the words using a pencil.  You can either use carbon-copy paper or simply press hard while retracing so to leave a mark on the foam board (but not too hard otherwise you will pierce it). 

Budget friendly neon sign DIY


Make sure you have enough EL wire by laying down a string following the letters. Measure the string and add about 10 inches (30cm) just to be sure.

Use the same string to figure out where you have to poke the holes for the EL wire. The wire will be on the front when forming the letters, and will pass on the back of the board between gaps. (See example on the side)

Poke the holes using a pencil or a metal nail.

Budget friendly neon sign DIY
Budget friendly neon sign DIY


Start threading the wire through the first hole from the back to the front. You can secure the battery pack with tape.

Following your design, drop some hot glue (a few inches at a time) and carefully stick the wire and hold in place until the glue sets. Use the pliers to help you bend and place the wire. Continue the process until you get to the end of the last word.

Budget friendly neon sign DIY


Flip your finished signage and secure the remaining wire with some tape. Cover all the wire on the back side with some black duct tape so that your signage only lights up from the front and you're done!

Budget friendly neon sign DIY

Did you like this DIY?

I would love to see your neon signs!

 Tag me on Instagram @foreignrooftops, or drop me a line at

Categories: DIY

comments (11)

September 29, 2017 Reply

OK, this is totally cool! I would have never thought of trying to recreate a neon sign look. And yes, the real ones are so darn expensive. I might give this a shot. Gotta think up a design!

    Valentina | ForeignRooftops
    September 29, 2017 Reply

    Thanks Carleen! I was very determined to get one!

September 29, 2017 Reply

I love a cheap DYI and this is super creative and super cute! You would look great in several places in my home. Thanks for sharing!

September 29, 2017 Reply

This looks amazing! I really want to try it out now!!

    Valentina | ForeignRooftops
    September 29, 2017 Reply

    Thank you so much Apeksha! Let me know if you do! Would love to see your neon sign as well!

September 29, 2017 Reply

I love the aesthetics of your blog! What a fun wiring project!

Sian Lifts Weights
September 29, 2017 Reply

This looks amazing! Im definitely not as crafty as you but would love to have something like this in my decor! You should etsy these!

September 30, 2017 Reply

this is so creative, i love it. maybe one day if i grow a crafty sense, i will give this a shot!

October 1, 2017 Reply

So cool. It is really easy to do and I might have to make a sign myself. Thank you for sharing.

Melanie Walsh
October 1, 2017 Reply

That is so cute! I love that you found a more affordable DIY project instead of the expensive neon. Having the printed image behind is a really nice touch.

Elizabeth O
October 2, 2017 Reply

Wow!!! It looks so adorable and perfect for decoration. I really like it coz' it's so stylish, I really like the printed floral image. Will try this neon sign.

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