Material to use for outdoor cutout displays

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Old 06-23-11, 12:27 PM
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Material to use for outdoor cutout displays

Hi,
I am looking into creating some outside painted cutouts and am wondering what would be the best material to use. I would rather not use plywood or any other type of wood. Any suggestions? Also would I use exterior latex paint? Would it need to have another clear coat finish over the entire cutout. I plan to leave them out during the 3 summer months in the New England weather. Thank you.
 
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Old 06-23-11, 03:11 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

Not enough info provided for us to help select the type of wood to use. How wide will the cut outs be? What is the finished product supposed to look like?

An oil base primer is almost always best and generally a couple of coats of a quality exterior latex house paint is fine for the top coat. No sealer needed.
 
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Old 06-24-11, 06:03 AM
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Hi marksr! Thanks for the reply. Sorry about the lack of information.
I am looking at making cutouts, fully painted of cartoon aqautic life; fish, crabs, starfish, etc. They will be fully detailed with many different colors and all outlined in black as cartoons are. Thus the though of a sealer over the paint. They will possibly be anywehre from 12 in x 12 in to 24 in x 24 in. They will not be square or rectangular, but the shape of the actual character. I hope to be able to hang these on a chainlink fence that surrounds my pool for approximately 3+ months. I'd rather stay away from wood where it may eventually split and crack. Unless you know of a wood that will withstand the elements. I was thinking about corrugated plastic or Gatorfoam board or plexiglass or possibly a type of vinyl. I'm just not familiar with which would hold the paint best, and which would withstand the elements the best. I am very familar with creating cartoons for print and web, but not for outdoor displays.
Does this give enough info? Please let me know. I appreciate all the help/suggestions you could supply! Thanks.
 
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Old 06-24-11, 09:49 AM
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I totally missed where you said "or any other type of wood"

If you were to use wood, you'd be limited to 11.5" width unless you joined 2 or more pieces together. Plywood would hold up fine providing any voids on the edge of the ply were filled and the paint was kept in good condition.

I don't know much about the other types of materials you could use
Hopefully some of the others will chime in with some info for you

Generally, plastics and vinyls are best painted with latex coatings.
 
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Old 06-24-11, 12:54 PM
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Hi marksr,
Thanks for feedback. Maybe I will look into using plywood. Do you know, is there exterior grade finished plywood?
 
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Old 06-24-11, 02:51 PM
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I don't think any of the exterior grade plywood comes with a great finish, 1 side is usually better than the other and some sanding, maybe a little filler should make 1 side pretty decent....... but I wouldn't give up on alternative materials just yet. I'm sure there is something tailor made for your application - I just don't know what it is
 
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Old 06-25-11, 09:39 AM
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I get 4 x 8' sheets of 3/4" thick plastic to make outside moldings and details. It holds up well but it does expand and contract quite a bit with temperature changes which would be a tough application for paint.

I would probably go for exterior grade plywood. With several coats of oil based primer/paint you can get a nice finish. I have a sign I made 10 years ago of regular 3/4" plywood and covered it with 4 or 6 coats of RustOleum oil based and it still looks pretty good.
 
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Old 06-27-11, 12:45 PM
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Hi Pilot Dane,
Thanks for the info. I had never thought about expanding\contracting. That most definitely will take a toll on the paint. It looks like I have to go with the plywood. Have you ever worked with Homasote? I'm not familiar with it. Is that something you can use outdoors?
As for the oil based primer. Would you use spray cans or brush it on? Again, I am not that familiar with outdoor painting for display.
One last question. What would you suggest to use for filler on the edges of the plywood where there will most likely be gaps and holes after cutting?
Any help you can provide is truly appreciated.
Thanks!
 
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Old 06-27-11, 12:58 PM
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I like the brush on type. It's less expensive and you get a thicker build-up of paint to protect the wood/metal. The only problem with the old fashioned Rustoleum oil base is that it takes a long time to reach a fully dry and hard state. It dries enough for another coat in a day but it seems it can take a couple weeks before it becomes rock hard. But no other paints I've tried have held up as well and even the Rusoleum from a spray can does not seem to last as long. I assume it's that spray applies a thinner layer of paint.
 
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Old 06-27-11, 01:13 PM
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My father would have used marine grade plywood.
 
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Old 06-27-11, 02:01 PM
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If you can buy the waffle or corrugated sign materials, that's what I would use. It is impervious to weather, paints nicely and doesn't react too badly to sun or cold. Check with a sign painter in your area. He/she may sell you a sheet or part sheet, whichever suits your needs. My jobsite signs are made of it and I have used them for years without adverse affects.
 
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Old 06-27-11, 04:19 PM
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"As for the oil based primer. Would you use spray cans or brush it on? Again, I am not that familiar with outdoor painting for display.
One last question. What would you suggest to use for filler on the edges of the plywood where there will most likely be gaps and holes after cutting?"


Aerosol cans contain more thinner and propellant than they do paint
The only way you can get enough primer on the wood is to brush or roll it. Even if you used a spray gun, back brushing/rolling is recommended to work the primer into the surface. I wouldn't consider a rattle can for any aspect of this job.

The voids can be filled with any number of products; caulking, painter's putty, window glazing, different wood fillers, even exterior spackling. Generally it's best to prime first, then use the filler and prime over the filler once it has dried.
 
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Old 06-28-11, 03:31 AM
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Totally agree with the spray thingy. After building a couple of sets of cabinets this week in the shop, the customer wanted them painted. I don't paint, but agreed to do so, reluctantly. I got good Zinser primer and thought the best way would be to use the Wagner spray gun. Got more primer on the ground and saw horses than I did on the cabinets. Finally reverted to brushes and small rollers for the paint finish. Much better finish, less waste, and I don't have to explain the paint on the grass in front of my shop.
 
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Old 07-01-11, 08:41 AM
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I was wondering about corrugated plastic. Is there a web site you could refer me to so I can take a look at what waffle or corrugated sign materials are made from? Or a brand name, so I could look them up myself? That would be a great help. Thanks for the suggestions.
 
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Old 07-01-11, 08:45 AM
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Thanks marksr. That's good to know about priming first and then filling second and then finally prime again. As for the filler, I just wasn't sure if there was something that holds up better for outdoor work. I have a number of the items you mentioned and will use one of those. Thanks again!
 
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