Outdoor Yard Art - will cabinet grade ply work if painted?

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Forum topic by exterminate posted 01-09-2014 02:57 PM 1925 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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136 posts in 2205 days

01-09-2014 02:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plywood outdoors

A co-worker asked me to make her some flamingo shaped yard art/signs – She gave me her last remaining one, which was beheaded, to use as a template. Its about 10.75” at its widest point. Am I Okay to use cabinet grade plywood if it will be sealed and painted? Trying to keep costs low, and I have plenty of scrap plywood laying around. But at the same time, I don’t want to make her a piece of junk that will delaminate in our Florida weather.

Thanks for your time and suggestions / advice.


-- Albert Einstein - "I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right."

6 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3027 days

#1 posted 01-09-2014 04:11 PM

As of a significant number of years ago, all plywood was deemed “exterior.” Based on that, I’d go ahead. As for your flamingo art standing the largerr test of time, in a demanding environment, I’m not so sure.

As for finish, I’d strongly recommend you consult with someone at your local paint store, not the “specialist” at the BORGs.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View exterminate's profile


136 posts in 2205 days

#2 posted 01-09-2014 04:53 PM

Thanks Lee! I appreciate it.

-- Albert Einstein - "I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right."

View Tony1212's profile


243 posts in 1912 days

#3 posted 01-10-2014 05:14 PM

My grandfather used to make outdoor figurines and whirlygigs, but those were usually made from 3/4” pine stock with a latex paint base and acrylic paint details (eyes, feathers, spots, etc).

Just after 9/11 he made a Iwo Jima-esque silhouette with fire fighters raising the flag with a real flag on top. Since that was much wider and taller than the pine stock he normally used, he used plywood. Knowing my grandfather, it would be the cheapest plywood from Home Depot along with their cheapest latex black paint. It stood in his yard from the 2001 until 2011 when we took it down when my grandma moved out of the house. This was year round with all the heat, rain, cold, snow and wind that 10 years of Chicago weather could throw at it.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View Woodknack's profile


12401 posts in 2557 days

#4 posted 01-10-2014 05:36 PM

MDO would be the right material, it’s made for outdoor signs. As for regular plywood, who knows. It would last for awhile at least depending on how well it was maintained.

-- Rick M,

View oldnovice's profile


7273 posts in 3545 days

#5 posted 01-10-2014 05:58 PM

MDO is used for large freeway signs and they seem to last forever!
I don’t know what the do to seal the edges … perhaps epoxy paint? I have had real good luck with Rush Oleum high gloss enamel … not cheap!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View basswood's profile


261 posts in 1797 days

#6 posted 01-10-2014 06:10 PM

Another vote for MDO. This is the product used for roadside signs.

Depending on the colors you need to “paint” your art, I would recommend a non-film forming product, like a solid pigment stain, rather than paint. I would also seal the upward facing (water catching) edges of the plys with an exterior bonding sealer/primer before the staining. Here is an example of a good edge sealer I use and a fence I built with arched MDO panels.


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