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Bark Brown paint for the panel and white or yellow for the text in the highest grade of exterior latex house paint you can find.
this is provided by the National Park Service and US Forest Service - never stain.
(and I'm afraid your pine wood is going to fail before the paint does - depending on which species of "pine" you used). a good coating of exterior oil primer is suggested.
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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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cedar, cypress, redwood, P/T YellaWood, would be the most "economical" and best choice for your project.
don't over think it - they are trail signs.
 

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oh yeah, oh yeah, unhunh, unhunh (that's Jack doing his happy dance).

Jack, for a complete novice, you have done an EXCELLENT job !!!
well done, young man, well done indeed.
looking forward to seeing the trails when you get them installed.
 

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Joe - HDU sign foam definitely has its place. As does OneShot lettering enamel.
As you noted, these signs were routed by hand in another thread: Here I go hand routing signs!. So they are already done and installed.
I love working with HDU and have written a few articles on it in some of the Sign Forums.
the only drawback with routing HDU is the stupid static electricity that builds up and the dust sticks to everything. (I hand-routed my signs outside whenever possible).
in my sign shop, I built a "special room" for sandblasting HDU signs). I don't know if that's possible with the CNC outfits or not.
 
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