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Forum topic by PY_ posted 09-10-2015 02:50 AM 1274 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 3938 days

09-10-2015 02:50 AM

Topic tags/keywords: yard art plywood outdoor finish

Hey All,
I am looking for some advice to help me with my yard art projects. Last year, the wife came up with the idea of making yard art and selling it to some local friends / social media friends. These are just seasonal decorations like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas items. Never doing it before we tried out a few different combinations and found one that seems to work ok but they take forever. What I am looking for is some advice on wood and/or finish to use in order to help speed up the projects but maintain the longevity of the items in the weather. Here is my current material / technique:

My shopping limitations:
Home Depot or Lowes

Plywood: 19/32 in. or 5/8 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. BC Sanded Pine Plywood
Painted wood finish (front of item): Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Gloss Clear General Purpose Paint
Bare wood finish (back of item): Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Flat Matte Clear General Purpose Spray Paint

Technique Used:
Cut out item + Fill in any holes/gaps of plywood with wood filler + Wait for that to dry then sand (sometimes not till the next day)
Spray back side of item (coat #1). Let dry 3-4 hours or overnight.
Spray back side of item (coat #2). Let dry 3-4 hours or overnight.
The wife then paints the item (she has the real talent). Let dry 3-4 hours or overnight.
Clear coat the front side of item (coat #1). Let dry 3-4 hours or overnight.
Clear coat the front side of item (coat #2). Let dry 3-4 hours or overnight.

The end result is really nice looking but again, they seem to take a long time due to the wood patching and multiple coats to protect the wood. We try to line up as many at the same time as we can to help speed up the process.

4 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


2889 posts in 2690 days

#1 posted 09-10-2015 11:39 AM

I’m going to assume that these are considered to be one-sided to look at, since you are painting the back a matte.

The only thing I can think of right off the bat is to change to pressure treated plywood.
I know it is more expensive, but you could then skip the backside painting process, and you are burning money with the backside paint. Two coats skipped, one-two days saved. Or at least just hit it with a quick, water based stain and be done.

You also might experiment with some lacquers, to see how they hold up outside. I know generally lacquer is not considered an outside finish, but there are a couple I have come across that seem to do better than others. Would take your drying time from overnight to a couple hours.

One of the problems you have is you are using BC pine plywood, which is not rated in any way that I can think of for outdoor use, so you are stuck trying to protect it spending way more time than the actual creation time by your wife.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View tomsteve's profile


845 posts in 1395 days

#2 posted 09-10-2015 11:47 AM

i got into doing probably some of the same things you are. i found it a waste of time filling imperfections and trying to achieve a perfect surface. its going to be seen from a distance. imperfections in the surface arent seen and when i stopped getting tedious about the surface i kept the prices the same and still sold.
paints- everything i used was acrylic craft paints purchased at michaels, walmart,etc. all started with a primer coat, which i used zinser interior/exterior primer. making sure edges were covered good.
after all painting, a coat of hydrocote polyshield clear to protect it. today when doing exterior projects i use sherwin williams a100 non tinted. rather pricey, but it holds up very good. of course this isnt the production outdoor stuff i was doing before. some pretty pricey patio furniture and such.
one thing i did for everything sold-
added a little write up with a thank you for the purchase and an explaination of importance of maintenence of the product and why necessary. doesnt matter what the project is, if its made of wood and outside it will need maintenence.
when painting, i only added coats for coverage, not protection.

View PY_'s profile


3 posts in 3938 days

#3 posted 09-10-2015 05:29 PM

Great advice from both of you and thank you for taking the time to reply. Yes, our items are only painted on the front side. I thought about painting the backs white but so far have not done so.

@ Tennessee
I thought about using pressure treated but was not sure how it would affect the acrylic paint my wife uses. Plus if its pressure treated, does that mean i can just paint the front, seal that paint with the same seal i am using, and i am done?

@ tomsteve
The perfections i am filling are gaps between the layers of the plywood (some go all the way through the other side). Also, sometimes i get a really bad piece of plywood that has a bad ply on the back where it looks like end grain on the flat part of the plywood and no matter how much i sand, it keeps peeling. I have to sometimes wood glue it to keep it from peeling and filler to fill in the big pieces that peeled off.

Its funny you mentioned the zinser because i thought of using it but never did. Since we are using acrylic on it, does that mean i need to get water based zinser? You also mentioned hydrocote polyshield clear. I searched for it on Home Depots site to see what it looks like but unable to find it. Is it called something specific at the big box stores? (As you can tell i do not know much about this stuff)

@ Both
Could i possibly use a combination of pressure treated plywood with zinser on both sides, acrylic on the good side, and finish it off with hydrocote polyshield clear on both sides? I would like to put out a decent quality product but still cut down the making time as much as i can.

View tomsteve's profile


845 posts in 1395 days

#4 posted 09-11-2015 11:08 AM

water based zinnser is what i use. real easy cleanup.
the hydrocote isnt a home depot product. its available at a couple places, which i purchased it from the winfield collection because i used to drive by there store often.

basically you can look for a water based clear exterior finish that has UV protection stuff. general finishes makes a good exterior clear,too. since ya have a hd you could try minwax waterbased spar varnish. lowes carries valspar but im not sure if they make a water based clear.

on the plywood….thats tough. the quality at hd and lowes plywood is now construction grade only pretty much. i used to get some pretty good quality ply back 10+ years ago. imo if you have access to a menards check them out. imo their ply is better than lowes or hd. iim not sure about the exterior grade plywood. you can try it and see how it works.
tnere may even be a forum on the www for wooden craft work with people that can gjve ya more options.

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