Best wood for an outdoor sign (3'x5') - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

 
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-16-2009, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Best wood for an outdoor sign (3'x5')

My mother in law asked me to make a new sign for an elementary school she is the principal of (district doesn't have $$). All it needs to be is a flat sign with the school name on both sides. I was thinking treated plywood for the backer but she wants to paint it and I don't think you can paint fresh treated wood, can you? My other thought was to buy 2x12's and dowel them together. If I went with non-treated lumber do you think exterior paint would be enough to protect it from the elements?

For the lettering, I don't have the skill or the patience to router the school name on both sides so I was planning to buy pre-cut letters and paint them; probably attach with adhesive.... so the young pranksters can't remove them!

Thoughts, tips, and ideas welcomed!! I want this to look nice and last. Thanks!
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-16-2009, 04:08 PM
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How big is the sign going to be? If you can, I would use cypress, cedar, redwod or any weather resistant lumber available in your area. I made a cypress sign for a friend's store about 18-20 years ago and is still is holding up fine.

Who Dat...Every step of any project should be considered your masterpiece if you want the finished product to reflect the quality of your work. Have a nice day, unless you have other plans! "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-16-2009, 04:10 PM
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It's called MDO (Medium Density Overlay) it's what allot of highway construction and business signs are made of. It is exterior maybe even marine quality plywood/glue and it has a paper looking finish over it. I have pulled signs out of ditches and canals and they were fine. I last bought some in 2004 or 2005 and it was like $35 a 3/8"x4'x8' sheet. Some lumber yards will carry it but if you have trouble call a sign supply company they get it in 4x8 and 4x10 sheets and it may be cheaper there if they will sell it to you.

The pre-cut letters wood work good. I would recommend a good quality paint and stay away from Red because you would have to buy industrial paint to keep it looking good.

Last edited by rrbrown; 07-16-2009 at 04:55 PM.
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-16-2009, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Sign size will be 3'x5'. I'll have to look into MDO, I think I know what you're referring to but didn't realize it was good for outdoor applications.... thought it was just laminated particle board. Is MDO paintable? School colors are blue and silver so I was looking to the backer in silver and the letters in blue. That's where my perceived problem with treated wood came in.

Thanks for the ideas!
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-16-2009, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moneymgmt View Post
Sign size will be 3'x5'. I'll have to look into MDO, I think I know what you're referring to but didn't realize it was good for outdoor applications.... thought it was just laminated particle board.
You might be thinking of MDF. I definitely wouldn't use MDF outside.

You're right about painting fresh treated wood. It's not a good idea. It might be okay after it has seasoned for three or four months, though.

I don't know anything about MDO, but it sounds good. The cedar or cypress would probably work well, too. Primer it well before painting.

Rob
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-16-2009, 08:21 PM
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Definitely not MDF. It's MDO and not available at Lowe's or Home Depot. Maybe A true Lumber Yard. Here are a couple of links to MDO so you know what I'm talking about.The first one is the technical stuff and the other 2 are places that sell it. You will probably want the good 2 sides unless the sign is mounted on a wall. You will also need to find a local place but the links give you an idea of product and price.

http://www.plumcreek.com/Portals/0/d...ctInfo/MDO.pdf

http://www.plywoodcompany.com/applic...FSXyDAodXmLtAw


http://www.industrialplywood.com/06p...n_ply_mdo.html
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post #7 of 16 Old 07-17-2009, 08:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your feedback! Great links RR, I appreciate it!
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-17-2009, 10:02 AM
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Mennards has MDO if there is one in your area.
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-17-2009, 12:56 PM
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That flyer on MDO was an interesting read. Thanks.
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post #10 of 16 Old 11-29-2010, 02:05 AM
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hi!
I'll use this thread to bring another situation for a sign.
I'm about to open a business and I also need to make an outdoor sign that can be naturally resistant to adverse weather conditions.
The dimensions I wish to do the sign are: 144'' x 20'' height x 5'' thick.
i wish to leave a rough look around as it the board would be an old piece. As i'm in New Jersey close to Newark, I'd try to took into some supplier close by, if possible. The options found online are only for small boards, though.
Does anyone have boards with this size or would know where could I find one like this?

Thanks
Miguel
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post #11 of 16 Old 11-29-2010, 07:26 AM
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I have a buddy in the sign business, he uses material that is aluminum based interior with a coated material on exterior, usually white. I believe its called alumalite? I have helped him a time or two with his signs, he attaches letters to this or will make vinyl lettering and put on them. He also uses a plywood based product that has a laminate on it also.
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post #12 of 16 Old 11-29-2010, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garmi View Post
hi!
I'll use this thread to bring another situation for a sign.
I'm about to open a business and I also need to make an outdoor sign that can be naturally resistant to adverse weather conditions.
The dimensions I wish to do the sign are: 144'' x 20'' height x 5'' thick.
i wish to leave a rough look around as it the board would be an old piece. As i'm in New Jersey close to Newark, I'd try to took into some supplier close by, if possible. The options found online are only for small boards, though.
Does anyone have boards with this size or would know where could I find one like this?

Thanks
Miguel
Where did you come up with those dimensions? the length and thickness especially makes me believe you are using an old back lit sign can. MDO is available in 4'x8' and 4'x10' sheets both in 3/8" and 1/2" but that is the longest. You would have to use 2 pieces for wood. The 5" thick part added to those dimensions would make it extremely expensive and impractical to use wood. If you are using the old sign can you could use lexan panel in one piece. In that case you can slap some vinyl letters on it and maybe use the lights if wanted. Aluminum or Alumilite would probably both be available in length and width but as before your not getting that thickness.

Quote:
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I have a buddy in the sign business, he uses material that is aluminum based interior with a coated material on exterior, usually white. I believe its called alumalite? I have helped him a time or two with his signs, he attaches letters to this or will make vinyl lettering and put on them. He also uses a plywood based product that has a laminate on it also.
MDO ( Medium Density Overlay)
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post #13 of 16 Old 01-17-2011, 06:23 PM
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Great Info: Need help with my sign too!

First I have to say, this is fabulous info thanks RRBrown and Buckshot. I too am making an outdoor sign for a friends business. He needs a sign for outdoor along a main road that leads to his lodge directing folks to his place. It will measure 4-5 feet and I will use vinyl for the lettering. What are your suggestions for types of wood to use for this sign- it will be close to the ocean and will encounter hot days and very rainy days. Also, do you have suggestions for a clear-coat or sealant that will withstand the elements and keep the vinyl safe? I plan on painting the sign, as I bleieve vinyl will only adhere to painted wood? Probably use an outdoor paint, suggestions?

A BIG thanks in advance for any help!!!
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post #14 of 16 Old 01-27-2011, 09:45 PM
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With a wood sign, I think you would be best off just painting and design it in a way that will allow you to add a fresh coat every couple years without having to re-do all the lettering.

Before you finalize the size you need, take a look at the dimensions of road signs if you haven't already. The letters on a stop sign, for example, are 10 inches tall. If your sign needs to be seen from the road, just keep in mind how big the letters actually need to be.
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post #15 of 16 Old 01-27-2011, 09:48 PM
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As far as type of wood, as has been mentioned, MDO is a pretty common go-to material.
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post #16 of 16 Old 10-15-2015, 03:33 PM
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I have a similar project, cutting wood to make a sign for a Buddhist Temple, then attach to a rock wall, What adhesive is best to use to glue all those letters into a rock wall?
http://s1050.photobucket.com/user/bn...Snap1.jpg.html

Last edited by bntran; 10-15-2015 at 03:51 PM.
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