How to Weatherproof Outdoor Wooden Signs

Lead Image
  • 3-5 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-200
What You'll Need
Wood putty
Putty knife
Water-repellent preservative
Wood sealer
Plastic edge caps

Wooden signs are a great crafty project that can give anything a charming, rustic appeal. However, if you want your outdoor wooden signs to stand the test of time, you'll have to weatherproof them. The elements will quickly batter unprotected wood and paint until your sign is shabby and your message unreadable. The following tips will help you build and maintain a wooden sign that will stand up to rain, humidity, dew, and the sun's rays.

Step 1 - Select More Robust Types of Wood

From the start, it's important to select the right type of wood for the job, something which is, by nature, robust against the elements. Redwood, red cedar, and cypress are all great for outdoor projects and widely available in the U.S. Treated wood is also ideal for outdoor use. Whichever kind you choose, make it is quite thick as well.

Step 2 - Sand the Wood Panels

Prepare your chosen wood panels by going over the surface with sandpaper. This will help to make the wood smoother and reduce the retention of water and moisture from rain, dew, or humidity that sticks to grains and chippings.

Step 3 - Apply Wood Putty if Necessary

Smooth wood putty with a putty knife into any gouges, deep scratches, or other damaged areas in the surface unless you're going for an intentionally weathered look. Then, allow it to dry before proceeding.

Step 4 - Apply Water Repellent Preservative

You may also want to apply a coating of water-repellent preservative before the final sealer. This will help increase the sign's resistance to outdoor conditions and the life of any paint you choose to add. However, you will need to make sure that the preservative you buy is the proper consistency for painting over.

Step 5 - Paint

Your next step is to add any desired paint. It is crucial to select a type which is manufactured for outdoor application. This is, in fact, one of the most important steps to weatherproofing your sign. Usually a high-quality, acrylic-based paint is recommended, as it has better adhesion. The paint layer on the wood will help to prevent, to a certain extent, the sun’s rays from weathering and fading the underlying wood. Make sure you apply your paint in several thin coats for maximum effectiveness.

Another good type to use is enamel, which provides a hard outer surface to the wood. There are also types of stains that are semi-transparent and contain chemicals which act as water repellents and preservatives at the same time.

Step 6 - Apply Wood Sealer

After allowing the paint to dry, you can apply wood sealer with a clean paintbrush. Again, you will want to spread this over the surface in at least two coats, allowing for dry time in between. This will further prolong the life of both the paint and the wood.

Step 7 - Add Plastic Edge Caps

It is particularly important that the edges of the wood are protected as well, since exposed grain will retain the most water. So, you may want to add plastic edge caps on the ends just in case your steps thus far aren't enough.

By following this advice, you can ensure from the beginning that your wooden signs will have a long lifespan. Waterproofing will keep your projects looking great and reduce how often you have to might have to buy or make new ones.