How to Make a DIY Kids Growth Ruler

DIY kids growth ruler

The best thing about memories is making them! Recording your child’s milestones and memories can be cherished for many years. When our kids started to walk we would record their heights on the wall inside the closet. We would write their name and the date next to the line to show how high there were. But as the years passed by, I wanted to keep those records permanently. I’ve built a DIY Kids Growth Ruler to transfer and to continue recording their height as they grow up.  

This is a very simple DIY project that could be built in one afternoon. You just need 1×6 board, stain, sharpie and adhesive numbers. This Kid’s Growth Ruler could be attached to any wall and any room. If you decide to move to a different house, you can take those recorded memories with you. I’m sure the kids will appreciate those memories when they grow up. 

DIY kids growth ruler

Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size.  See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links. 

Step 1 – Cut 1×6 Board

First, determine how long you want to make the growth ruler and where you what to place it. If you’re planning to attach it to the wall make sure you have a stud inside the wall to attach it to. In my case, I wanted to attach the ruler in our kid’s room on the wall right next to the entrance door. We have a baseboard at the bottom that’s about 3” high. So I measured from the top of the baseboard to the top of the door trim and that gave me the length that I wanted. However, your situation might be different, so cut the board whatever length you need. I had the board cut to 84” in length. After cutting the board use a random orbital sander to sand the board on all sides and the corners. 

sanding wood for growth ruler

Step 2 – Pre-Stain and Stain

Next, the board needs to be stained or painted. You have an unlimited variation of doing this. You could choose any stain or paint you want. One thing to consider is if you go with a darker stain, you would need to use lighter color numbers. And wise versa, if you use a light stain on the board, then go with darker numbers. 

Since this is a small project I just use a shop paper towels to do the staining. I was lazy and didn’t what to wash the brush after staining. If you’re using soft pine wood, it’s very important to use pre-stain before applying the stain. Pre-stain will prevent the stain blotchiness. After using pre-stain wait for 10 minutes and then apply stain and wipe off with a shop paper towel. For my project, I used the Jacobean stain to stain the board.

using shop paper towel to stain wood
staining wood for growth ruler
staining wood

Step 3 – Measure and Mark Feet and Inches

Now it’s time to pull the measuring tape and mark the inches. But before marking on the board determine how high your board will be attached from the ground. In my case, I’m attaching the ruler above the baseboard. This baseboard is 3” tall, so I’m placing my measuring tape at 3” from the bottom of the ruler. First, make every inch on the board with a pencil. Then draw thick lines using oil-based black sharpie over the pencil marks. 

To draw the lines straight I used a Construction Square as a guide. I made the lines three different lengths. The measuring tape has numbers for feet and inches. So the feet numbers will have the longest lines and the inches will have the shorter lines. Draw a 2” line for the feet numbers, then between the feet number draw 1 ½” lines for every 3, 6, and 9 numbers. Finally draw 1” lines for numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11.

marking inches and feet on the diy growth ruler
marking inches and feet on the growth ruler

Step 4 – Apply Matte Polyurethane

Once you’re done with drawings the ruler lines, apply a coat of matte polyurethane with a brush. Let it dry for a few hours, then with a fine-grit sandpaper (300 and up) sand the board lightly. Using a fine-grit sandpaper eliminates roughness from the first coat of polyurethane. Wipe off the dust and then apply a second coat of polyurethane. 

applying poly on growth ruler

Step 5 – Tape on Adhesive Numbers

To place the feet number on the board, you could purchase adhesive stickers or just write the numbers yourself. I used 1″ Self Stick Numbers that I had leftover from the cornhole scoreboard project.

taping number for DIY kids growth ruler
taping number for DIY kids growth ruler

Step 6 – Attach the Kids Growth Ruler to the Wall

To attach the growth ruler to the wall, you need to find the stud first. Using a stud finder locate and mark the stud on the wall. Next, measure 1 foot from the floor and mark it on the wall. Then place the ruler against the wall making sure that the 1-foot mark on the wall aligns with a 1-foot line on the board. Also, use a level to check if the growth ruler is vertically straight, then secure it using a nail gun with 2” brad nails. Make sure the nails go into the stud. 

You could also use woodscrews to secure the board to the wall, but I think brad nails work better because they blend in with the wood grain. You’re done with this Kids Growth Ruler.

DIY kids growth ruler

Different Board Size and Color

I’ve made another Kids Growth Ruler for my sister but with a different board size. Also, after staining the board I used white paint to lightly brush over the stain. This made a whitewash effect on the board. 

DIY kids growth ruler
DIY kids growth ruler

5 thoughts on “How to Make a DIY Kids Growth Ruler”

  1. Looks like a very fun easy project to build and to pass to the next generation in the family and look back on this and tell them I made this when they were kids to see who is getting a bigger any day now.

    • Hi Dennis, I’ve made several of these from different board sizes. The pictures at the top of the page, I used 1×6 board and the last couple of pictures I used 1×8 board.

  2. Hi

    I tried making this and once I added the poly it caused the sharpie to bleed. I used a sharpie that was supposed to work on wood. Any thoughts

    • Hi Cori, What kind of poly are you using? I think if you use oil-based, it’s thicker and will cause the sharpie to bleed. Water-based poly is thinner, that’s what I used.


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