Best wood for outdoor sign

Big fan of PVC–like many others on here. I wouldn’t consider anything else but Teak for natural wood. Cumaru is a Brazilian Teak that is relatively inexpensive and stands up to weather exceptionally well. I get Cumaru at Woodcraft store, and it’s super solid and carves well on a CNC. You could glue up a few boards.
If I were in your shoes, I would look into those two for your options.

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For my outdoor projects, I typically turn to cypress. It’s readily available at my lumber store in the Atlanta area. My wife and I have a rental house on Pensacola Beach, completed in 2006. It faces due south and takes on the sun all year. A friend and I made the fish shaped railings, shown in the picture, out of cypress, 150 of them. To prep for house repainting, I just replaced 4 of them after 16 years, including numerous storms and hurricanes. I cannot imagine what the cost would be if I used any other material.


i’lll definitely keep all these great ideas in mind. I went back to my guy and said i can make it all out of wood and seal it against the elements and i told him the price

havent heard back…i might have spooked him with the number

It doesn’t take much to “spook” anyone these days. :smiley: I’m always disheartened with how many people choose China because of pricing alone. :frowning:

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I love using PVC. If you do a google search for plastic suppliers, you can also get it different colors besides the white & brown from the big box stores.

You could practice inlay work …

I buy from Larid Plastics here in Detroit

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so the unfortunate thing is i told him i can certainly make his 18x27 sign out of wood and then seal it to defend against the NY elements.

full disclosure, I’ve been making things out of wood for fun, family and friends and am just now trying to start a business. I told him the price would be $150 and 2 days later havent heard back yet. if i just used “Big Box Store” wood and rattle can paint and then shellac

am i charging too much?

It’s rarely a question of charging too much, but usually, not enough.

If you want to make the sign because you’d enjoy it, have your friend buy the materials, and come over to help paint.

If you want to make money using the machine, charge more, and don’t worry about losing work at prices which would not be profitable.


gotcha…so this may be a loaded question but using “common” wood and nothing exotic what is a fair price for an 18x27 multi color sign sealed against the elements?

Previous discussions:

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thanks @WillAdams, these are very helpful

To try and be consistent i usually set my price by the square inch, the size of the work piece. I use 25 cents per square inch as a standard. But sometimes use 30 cents per square inch if the design is more complex.
Work Piece 7.0 x 14.0 inches
98 Square Inches
25 cents per sw inch = 24.50
30 cents per sq inch = 29.40

So for your sign at 18 x 27 @ 25 cents per square inch it would be 121.50

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The costs involved in “hobby” type one-off projects are in the design and finishing. If you can avoid those, then you can get away with charging by the area of a part. :smiley:

Machine time is really only about 25% of the project time; if that.

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How do you paint interior (green) when you do those. Do you spray over top everything and wipe off the raised letters and boarder? Trying to find easiest most efficient way


Appreciate that, haven’t used yet.

Do you factor in the wood? Meaning do you set your rate differently if you are using pine or maple or even paduck

If its maple, walnut, or cherry i might charge a little more. But for PVC board it’s pretty much 25 cents a square inch. Here’s some of my prices and sizes

|Item Name|Variation Name|SKU|Description|Category|Price|

|American Flag|Regular||9.25 x 17|Specialty|$40.00|
|Angel W/ Horn & Wings|Regular||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Angel W/ Wings & Halo|Regular||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Baseball|Regular||9.25 x 11.5|Sports|$27.00|
|Bless Our Home|Regular|||House & Home|$33.00|
|Bless The Food / Family / Love|Regular||11.5 x 11.5|House & Home|$33.00|
|Bless This Home|Regular|||House & Home|$33.00|
|Boomer’s House|Regular||11 1/2 x 11 1/2|House & Home|$33.00|
|Bride & Groom|Regular||9 x 9.25|Wedding|$21.00|
|Bus Stop|Regular||12 x 18|Specialty|$50.00|
|Candy Cane|Regular||21.0 x 10.0|Holiday|$30.00|
|Candy Cane|Candy Cane - Red|||Holiday|$30.00|
|Candy Cane|Candy Cane - Green|||Holiday|$30.00|
|Canton Public Safety|Regular||9.0 x 9.25|Specialty|$25.00|
|Christmas Bulb|Regular||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Christmas Tree Barn Wood|Regular||33.0 x 20.0|Holiday|$35.00|
|Christmas Tree W/ Balls|Regular||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Coasters W/ Initial|Regular||4 1/2 x 4 1/2 (Qty 4)|House & Home|$20.00|
|Discover What You Love|||||$19.00|
|Dove With Branch|Regular||7.25 x 7.25|House & Home|$14.00|
|Dream Big|Regular||5.75 x 8|House & Home|$11.00|
|Easter Bunny W/ Fuzzy Tail|Regular||6.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$11.00|
|Eat Drink Enjoy Serving Boad|||||$25.00|
|Family Sign|Regular||5.25 x 21|House & Home|$28.00|
|Free Masons|Regular||16.0 x 16.0|Specialty|$64.00|
|Frosty Face|Regular||9.5 x 7.25|Holiday|$18.00|
|Granite Etching|Regular||12 x 12|Specialty|$36.00|
|Gymnast Sign|Regular||7.25.x 7.0|Sports|$13.00|
|Happy Halloween W/ Pumpkin|Regular||10.0 x 9.25|Holiday|$23.00|
|Happy Halloween W/ Witch|Regular||10.0 x 9.25|Holiday|$23.00|
|Happy Holidays W/ Holly|Regular||9.5 x 7.25|Holiday|$18.00|
|Happy Holidays W/ Snowflake|Regular||9.5 x 7.25|Holiday|$18.00|
|Hardwood Cutting Board|Regular||11 x 20|Woodworking|$55.00|
|Hello Sunshine|Regular||8.75 x 9.0|House & Home|$20.00|
|Hit Like a Girl|Regular||14.0 11.25|Specialty|$40.00|
|House Address Sign|Regular||5.5 x 14|House & Home|$25.00|
|House Address Sign|Pocket|||House & Home|$25.00|
|House Sign with Buck|Regular||9 1/4 x 11 1/4|House & Home|$30.00|
|In Loving Memory Of|||11.5 x 11.5||$33.00|
|I’m Retired Go Around Me|Regular||5.5 x 11.0|Specialty|$16.00|
|Jesus on Cross|Regular||6.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$11.00|
|Leave Me Alone - Annoyed|Regular||11.25 x 9.25|Specialty|$27.00|
|Live Laugh Love|Regular||11.5 x 7.5|House & Home|$22.00|
|Love is a Four Legged Word|Regular||7.25 x 7.25|House & Home|$14.00|
|Love Michigan|Regular||7.25 x 14.0|Specialty|$25.00|
|Manger Modern W/ Star|Regular||7.25 x 7.25|Holiday|$14.00|
|Manger With Star|Regular||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Manger WO/ Star|Regular||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Merry Christmas|Red Letters with White Top||9.5 x 7.25|Holiday|$18.00|
|Merry Christmas|White Letters with Red Top|||Holiday|$18.00|
|Michigan Flag|Regular||9.25 x 10.5|Specialty|$25.00|
|Mouse & Owel|Regular||14 x 14|Woodworking|$35.00|
|MSU|White Top 7.0 x 5.5||7.0 x 5.5|Sports|$10.00|
|MSU|Green Top 7.0 x 5.5|||Sports|$10.00|
|MSU|Larger 11.5 x 9.25|||Sports|$27.00|
|MSU Coasters|Set of Four||4 1/2 x 4 1/2|House & Home|$20.00|
|MSU Coasters|Set of Five|||House & Home|$25.00|
|MSU Coasters|Set of Three|||House & Home|$15.00|
|Old Sparty|Regular||11.25 x 20.0|Sports|$57.00|
|Old’s Cool Motorcycle|Regular||9.25 x 8.0|Specialty|$19.00|
|Pineapple|Regular||5.25 x 7.25|House & Home|$10.00|
|Red Wings|Regular||9.25 x 15.0|Sports|$35.00|
|Reindeer|Regular||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Retired Under New Management|Regular||8.0 x 5.5|Specialty|$11.00|
|Santa Face|Regular||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Santa W/ Reindeer|Regular||5.5 x 15.0|Holiday|$21.00|
|Season Everything with Love|7 1/4 x 7 1/4 Regular|||House & Home|$14.00|
|Season Everything with Love|9 3/4 x 10 3/4|||House & Home|$26.00|
|Serving Board|Regular||Various Sizes|Woodworking|$25.00|
|Serving Board|Custom Engraved|||Woodworking|$35.00|
|Serving Board|Regular||22 x 8|Woodworking|$40.00|
|Simply Blessed|Regular||11.5 x 11.5|House & Home|$33.00|
|Skating Sign|Regular||7.25 x 7.0|Sports|$13.00|
|Tea Light Candle Holder 3 Candle|Regular||7.5 x 10.0|Woodworking|$15.00|
|This is How I Roll|Regular||8.0 x 7.25|House & Home|$15.00|
|Three Christmas Ornaments|Regular||9.75 x 7.25|Holiday|$18.00|
|Three Crosses on Hill|Regular||7.25 x 7.25|Holiday|$14.00|
|Trust God|Regular||3.75 x 13|House & Home|$13.00|
|U of M|Regular 7.0 x 5.5||7.0 x 5.5|Sports|$10.00|
|U of M|Larger 11.5 x 9.25|||Sports|$27.00|
|U of M Coasters|Set of Four||4 1/2 x 4 1/2|House & Home|$20.00|
|U of M Coasters|Set of Five|||House & Home|$25.00|
|U of M Coasters|Set of Three|||House & Home|$15.00|
|Valet Tray|8.0 x 10.25||8.0 x 10.25|House & Home|$15.00|
|Valet Tray|10.75 x 10.75|||House & Home|$21.00|
|Valet Tray|13.0 x 7.5|||House & Home|$30.00|
|Wedding Anniversary|Regular||9.25 x 16|Wedding|$40.00|
|Welcome Porch Sign Vertical|Regular||23.0 x 7.75|House & Home|$45.00|
|Welcome to Our Home|Regular||11.5 x 11.5|House & Home|$33.00|
|Welcome to Our World Baby Boy|Regular||7.25 x 9.25|Specialty|$17.00|
|Welcome to Our World Baby Boy|Custom Name|||Specialty|$25.00|
|Welcome to Our World Baby Girl|Regular||7.25 x 9.25|Specialty|$17.00|
|Welcome to Our World Baby Girl|Custom Name|||Specialty|$25.00|
|Williams Wing|Regular||8.0 x 5 1/2|House & Home|$20.00|
|Wise Men W/ Palm|Regular||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Wise Men W/ Palm & Star|Red||12.0 x 7.25|Holiday|$22.00|
|Wise Men W/ Palm & Star|Black|||Holiday|$22.00|
|Work Hard|Regular||3.75 x 12|House & Home|$12.00|
|You Infinity Me|Regular||9.0 x 5.5|House & Home|$13.00|


OP has gotten lots of good answers. I’ll just fill in a few gaps:

MDO is great material for painted signs. But the plywood interior is not treated for decay. If you don’t perfectly seal the edges, it will rot from the inside out in a few years. And if you’re carving it, you lose any advantage of using MDO in the first place.

PVC is a good material, though expensive. For large signs, you can get foam, which carves well, and is light weight. But it isn’t so great structurally. I usually have to add some sort of frame behind it, or edge it with solid wood unless it’s mounted high with a solid wall behind it.

Another material to consider is under the trade name Extira. It’s an exterior-rated MDF material. It’s heavy, and it makes very fine dust when cutting. But it’s cheaper than MDO or PVC in my area. I’ve switched over to Extira from MDO for most sign work.


Extira looks like it would be a good substitute for mdf, for making new slats for my hybrid bed.

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