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Outdoor sign making advice

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I am looking for experienced advice on making an outdoor sign.


I am president of a recreation club.  We need a new sign over our gate.  I was going to exchange a 1 year membership for a professional sign but the guy no longer has access to the tools.


Dimensions 41" X 65.5"


We have a simple black and white design and I was thinking I could just do it myself but wondering, what's the best backing material?  Best paint or lettering method?


I want it to last 10 to 20 years or more.  It is fully exposed to the elements mounted on a steel frame over a large steel gate.


I was thinking about hardy board as an example, sealing it with good paint and lettering on that, then adding a clear coat sealant but want to poll folks for other possibly better options.  I was thinking about the hardy backer (or similar) because I believe it will take paint very well, it won't warp/shrink or rot ever and that would allow the paint to hold it's integrity for a very long time.  Maybe even allow for oil based enamel.  


Thanks in advance!

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On 4/10/2020 at 10:07 AM, daninpd said:

Dibond aluminum composite panels

This is what the sign guy was going to use.  The club has a very tight budget and it was great for a barter but I don't want to spend over $100 on the substrate.   Add the other materials and we are at 2 or 3 times that.

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19 minutes ago, retfr8flyr said:

I think your hardy board is a good idea, as it's basically concrete. I have had hardy board siding on my sunroom for 20 years now and it still looks like the day we moved in.

this is exactly why I was thinking it would be great.  Only concern is weight really.   Also wondered if anyone had other brilliant ideas.

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For that size sign I think your only relative inexpensive options are the Hardiboard, or having a sign company make something from plastic but I am not sure that would be cheaper than the Hardiboard. Like you said the only downside to the Hardibaord is the weight, you would have to figure a mounting solution that could handle the weight. I have made many signs from wood covered with a good spar varnish sign.jpg



but for that size sign, it would be almost impossible to make something that would not warp.

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philpom, have you considered getting a big piece of sheet metal and then cutting it down to the size you want? You could then cover it with an exterior enamel to keep it from rusting, stencil & paint in whatever letting or numbers you need with a contrasting color and then applying a couples coats of clearcoat to seal your project. You could also get the sticky letters & numbers like you'd use on a mailbox if you didn't want to go through the stenciling and painting of the letters and numbers.


I would think that you should be able to bang that out in a few hours and probably be under your $100 estimate. 


Just an idea... 


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How about pvc composite?  Trex or Azek type material.  You could find a local maker hobbits to Cnc the letters and you can epoxy them to a 4x8 sheet cut down to a custom size.  

another more expensive option would be Aluminum, you could have it water jet cut and anodized or powder coated.  

too much? 

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