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Honestly, given the state of things, I would use SIGN FOAM. You are routing the signs, presumably with a CNC router. Sign Foam routes like butter. You can get any density, up to 90 ponds per cubic foot but the 15 lb. or 20 lb. foam is sufficient for your purposes. You route it, spray it with a white FOAM FRIENDLY primer base, and then paint the letters by hand with ONE SHOT sign paint.

Sign Foam is a closed cell foam that is impervious to weather. It doesn't rot, or shrink, or crack. Termites don't touch it. It handles wind and rain like a champ. It is EASY to make very decorative signs because a CNC router carves it like a stick of butter! No knots. no grains. No issues!

I made this car lot sign five years ago, and it still looks brand new! The storage sign was fun, but the company changed its name shortly after ordering the sign.

Joe

Wood Art Floor Flooring Automotive tire


Property Motor vehicle Font Wood Gas


Sky Road surface Motor vehicle Asphalt Building


Motor vehicle Wood Font Gas Automotive exterior

Motor vehicle Wood Automotive exterior Font Gas

Rectangle Wood Font Gas Fixture
 

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Well! Here we go, finished product. [..]
Ahh! You already completed the project. 馃槙 Well ... look at SIGN FOAM for future projects. There is no point to using WOOD if you are going to cover the beautiful wood grain with PAINT!

Another thing I found to be awesome for signs like this is the PVC boards you can buy at Lowe's and Home Depot. They are already faced with faux wood grain finish on ONE side, and they ROUTE like a dream! You spray paint the lettering and the wood grain (positive or negative) and then sand the surface back to the white and clear coat it for a beautiful sign.

Furniture Plant Outdoor bench Rectangle Grass


Another GREAT sign material is called COLOR CORE. It is like an OREO cookie, with one color of plastic on the surfaces, and another color inside. It comes in different color combinations and thicknesses. You route through the exterior surface to expose the interior color. NO PAINTING REQUIRED, and the letters are razor sharp!

Font Material property Electric blue Signage Advertising


Finally, I discovered quite by accident that SOLID SURFACE MATERIAL routes beautifully, and it is EASY to paint in the letters with spray paint, and then sand and polish the top surface to the original color. Solid Surface Material is used for counter tops, bathroom shower enclosures, etc. The trade name is CORIAN, but there are competitors too. I use DURASEIN. This sign was made with CNC router and a 1/16" two-flute router bit.

Nature Plant Rectangle Font Grass


SIGN FOAM

Rectangle Font Wood Paint Signage
 

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Jack, there are many types of wood for outdoor projects: personally, I use redwood or cypress. larger signs, such as the National Parks, I used HDO plywood (High Density Overlay) which is rare for the average consumer. MDO (Medium Density Overlay) is more common in the box stores.
if you are looking for one product (wood or paint) to last 20 years without maintenance, it's not going to happen. anything outdoors needs to be taken care of and maintained according to that project and weather conditions.
with proper eye and respirator protection, you could use pressure treated wood from Home Depot called YellaWood.
but, it too needs the appropriate priming and painting regimen. I have seen many "trail signs" that were routed only with no paint at all and allowed to weather naturally. (much easier to replace if needed).
sorry to ramble on, but, I've been making wood signs for outdoor use for over 40 years on a commercial basis.
this is totally your call as to where the trail signs go and how long do you want them to last. we're anxious to follow your projects all the way through to the final installation.
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Gotta love TALENT!

"A man's got to know his limitations!" - Dirty Harry

My hand is not steady enough to paint something like this. Also, my patience level would NEVER allow me to hand paint this. I admire people who have the patience of JOB, but I want it NOW! I default to materials and processes that allow me to accelerate the outcome.

For instance, you can buy a spray rubber coating that is fairly easy to remove. So you paint a board one color, and let it dry. Now spray the mask over it, and route your sign into it. Now spray the routed pockets the second (and third, and fourth ....) colors. Remove the mask, and the sign is DONE.

Joe


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