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Top 5 Wood Species for Outdoor Signs

 

One of the most common questions we get is which wood species withstands the elements the best.  Tough question for sure.  Wood, as you know, is an organic material.  Each piece of wood has it’s own, unique, characteristics.  However, each wood species also has general characteristics that can be evaluated for suitability for specific purposes.

Well, we have done the homework for you and I have put together a short list of wood species with favorable characteristics for both indoor and outdoor signs.  Of course, there are other wood species that have favorable qualities, but we have found these 5 species to have the most beneficial for our purposes.  They are in no particular order.

  1. Redwood (Janka Hardness 450 lbf)

Heartwood ranges from light brown to dark reddish brown.  Sapwood is typically pale white or with a yellowish tint.  Wood grain is generally straight, however, knots and trunks can have attractive “Redwood burl” and be wavy and atypical.  Decay resistance is rated as moderately to very durable.  Redwood machines well with power tools and hand tools but tear outs may occur in wavy or irregular grain.

The species is not on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) index but is listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list meaning that according to the IUCN the species is vulnerable due to a reduction in population of 40% over the past three generations.

Redwood is soft and lightweight with a decent strength-to-weight ratio and it is exceptionally stable.

  1. Mahogany (Janka Hardness 1,070 lbf)

Color is variable and ranges from pale pink to a deep, dark, reddish brown.  The grain is typically straight and stable and sometimes interlocking.  Mahogany often displays a natural luster which is enhanced by finishing.  It is rated as moderately durable with a moderate to poor rating for insect/borer resistance.  Mahogany, even though it is a harder wood, machines well.  Tear out can occur when working the wood if the grain is interlocked.

The species is not on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) index but is listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list meaning that according to the IUCN the species is vulnerable due to a reduction in population of 20% over the past three generations.

Pricing is considered low to moderate for an imported hardwood.

  1. Spanish Cedar (Janka Hardness 600lbf)

Heartwood color is typically light pink to reddish brown.  Color within each specimen is fairly uniform.  Grain pattern is inconspicuous.  Grain is generally straight and stable.  Spanish cedar decay resistance ranges from durable to moderately durable and is resistant to termites.  The species weathers well and develops a uniform, light gray appearance when weathered.  It machines well with both hand and power tools.  Natural gum pockets may remain wet and may ooze even after finishing.

The species is on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix III index and is listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list meaning that according to the IUCN the species is vulnerable due to a reduction in population of 20% over the past three generations.

Wood currently available comes from plantations of fast-growing, low-density trees.  Pricing is considered moderate for an imported species.

  1. Oak (Janka Hardness 1,220 lbf)

Heartwood is light brown with a reddish tone.  Sapwood can be difficult to differentiate from heartwood and has a similar appearance.  The grain pattern is straight, and the wood has very large pores that can be visible in the end grain.  Large pores can make the wicking of paint and stain obvious.  The wood machines fairly well and has relatively high shrinkage values resulting in mediocre dimensional stability.

This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

Pricing is moderate for domestic hardwoods and the species is widely available.

  1. Cypress (Janka Hardness 510 lbf)

Heartwood is light with a yellowish tint and can light brown.  Sapwood is almost white prior to finishing.  Cypress has a straight grain pattern.  Rot resistance depends on the age of the harvested tree.  Old-growth trees have a durable to very durable rating while younger trees are moderately durable.  Tear out is common with Cypress unless great care is taken while machining.

This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appe, thesendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.

Pricing is in the mid-range for domestic hardwoods and the species is widely available.  However, since the species is harvested from wet areas, pricing can be dependent on seasonal availability.

 

There are many other quality woods that are great for outdoor signs.  However, in our opinion these 5 are some of the best based on the characteristics of; aesthetics, durability, price, availability, stability, sustainability, machinability, as well as rot and insect resistance.

By | 2018-03-27T07:27:28+00:00 September 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

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2 Comments

  1. Marylou Millett March 12, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Interested in an Oak sign shaped like a Southern Comfort liquor bottle that says “Southern Comfort Farm” Is that possible? If so, cost?

    • Adam Stewart March 14, 2018 at 9:58 am

      Absolutely, I will send you an email.

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