How Do You Seal Your Wood Signs

Woodworking By LPI - Sealer Can

You complete your wood sign project and like the way it looks. How do you seal the wood sign? As I continue my research to make myself better I thought I would continue to share my research and how-to’s as I go so you can benefit and create your perfect wood sign as well.

Sealing your wood sign is extremely important for longevity, durability, and keeping the original appearance. It is important to seal your wood sign based on where you will keep the sign. If outdoors, an epoxy resin is the best answer. If indoors, a good polyurethane coat is a great way to seal your wood sign.

Purpose of Wood Sign Sealer

The most important question I asked is should I seal the wood sign or why is it important to seal my wood sign? Being the analytical thinker I always try to get as much information as I can to see what are my options and what will make the wood sign appearance the best. Additionally, what option will protect it the most.

Before I get into a few of the types of sealers that are available I want to do my best to explain the purpose of sealers. Knowing the purpose of sealers helps you understand why you need to spend that extra expense while making wood signs.

Protection in my opinion is the biggest reason you would seal a wood sign. Secondarily would be appearance. If you are putting your wood sign in an environment where there is a lot of moisture indoors or outdoors sealing your sign is optimal.

Types Of Wood Sign Sealer

There are many types of wood sealer for different applications. I looked at the most popular and most available at your local hardware store.

PolyurethaneIt is a highly resistant varnish formulated so chains of resign molecules bond with each other while it dries. It makes it resistant to weather elements, scratching and impacts.

Oil Based Polyurethane – They come in different types such as oil based and water based. Most oil based polyurethane provides an amber appearance. Oil based polyurethane also take 24 hours to start to dry and up to 72 hours to completely cure.

Water Based Polyurethane If you are wanting to preserve the original look of your wood sign (Without the amber color), water based polyurethane is the best way to go. When I opened the can it had a milky look to it and more so when I stirred the polyurethane with a stick. It cleans up with water and dries very quickly.

Water Based Oil Modified Polyurethane – Still has the milky appearance when you open the can, however still provides the amber appearance when dry. Fast drying and cleans up with water.

Clear Coat You can get clear coat in a spray applicator or can to use with a brush. It is very resistant to weather and UV rays which makes it a very viable sealer for outdoor wood signs. It does take several coats when you use it, however it does dry very fast.

Lacquer – Lacquer is a solvent based sealer which provides a high sheen finish. It can be used on wood sign application, however is not recommended for outdoor use due to it deteriorating over time from UV damage.

Epoxy Resin – Surprisingly you can use Epoxy Resin on wood signs for a high sheen finish. The typical epoxy resin is clear and is a great way to totally seal you wood sign and excellent for outdoor signs. Additionally, epoxy resin can be used with a wide range of colors to create totally different and unique design.

If you would like to see what products I’m using and purchase you can see my recommended products here – “Recommended Products

Sealer – Types Of Sheen

There are types of sheen which you will find when purchasing your sealer. Each of them provides a different appearance and when you have a specific look you are looking for you need to know what the finished appearance will be.

Satin – Satin is a low sheen finish which is not reflective compared to gloss. Its benefits are it hides many blemishes and imperfects in the wood sign. However if you are going for a rustic appearance imperfections may be something you want to show.

Semi Gloss – Semi Gloss is often compared to Satin, but Semi-Gloss has a lot more sheen and reflection. Some of the Semi Gloss sealers I have used with a couple of coats have almost a glass finish. When I create wood signs and use a sealer this is my preferred sealer.

Methods Of Applying Wood Sign Sealer

Sealing a wood sign is not as hard as you may think, but is just as important as rest of the process. Considering the product types and sheen’s mentioned above, what is the best way to apply the sealer?

Applying the sealer is much like painting. You can apply the sealer to the wood sign by way of a brush, spray can or if you have an air compressor by way of a critter (Spray attachment with mason jar – My method of applying sealer).

Brushing – If you are wanting to use a brush there are several factors to keep in mind. Depending on the sealer you use you would need the proper brush. Will you be using an oil based sealer or a water based sealer. As the video below mentioned, there are brushes for oil based sealers. Ensure when you go to you local hardware store you pick the appropriate brush.

Ensure your surface is clean from dust and debris by cleaning with a cloth or microfiber cloth. If you have a aerosol sprayer for cleaning you computer keyboard that would work as well. Best case scenario would be an air compressor, blowing the dust off and the cleaning with you cloth.

Once you know the surface is clean of dust or debris ensure you are in a well ventilated area if you are using an oil based sealer, as the fumes can be harmful. If you are using a water based sealer not as much but still recommended you use a well ventilated area.

Start by dipping in your brush into the sealer and wiping on the edge of the can to ensure an even amount of sealer is applied to the brush about a half inch into the brush. Then with even strokes from one end holding the brush at a 45 degree angle brush at an even speed all the way across the wood sign. Repeat process until complete.

Once the sealer has dried, depending on whether or not you are using an oil or water based sealer, repeat the process for a minimum of two coats. The two coats are important to ensure the complete coverage as well as the best appearance.

When complete and dry, repeat the process for the back of the wood sign. This is important if you are going to be placing the wood sign outdoors.

Spraying – You can use a aerosol spray can which many of the sealers offer in their product line or you can use a compressor related tool – (As mentioned above I use a Critter spray attachment – See Below Video).

As with the brushing technique you want to ensure you wood sign surface is as clean as possible from debris and dust. This ensures a clean adherence of the sealer to the wood.

Using the corner as a reference I typically spray about 6 inches from the wood sign and evenly spray along the long side of the wood sign. After completing the first coat I hold the wood sign up to the light to ensure complete and even coverage.

Wait for the sealer to completely dry. Depending on whether or not you use the oil based sealer or water based sealer you time will vary. Ensure you complete at least two coats on the surface of the wood sign for the best finish.

For the best technique on applying the sealer please see the video below. No matter what kind of sealer you use the video depicts the best process for applying your sealer.

Finishing For Best Sealer Appearance

After you application of the sealer you will need to ensure the surface is smooth and free from any bumps. This takes a little patience and work but the results are extremely impressive.

Please ensure you take a look at the below video for an excellent method of completing you sealer appearance.

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Woodworking By LPI Sealing Wood Signs

Henry Brady

I have been working wood signs since 2018, however my experience goes further back to my childhood working on wood projects from home decor to home repair. Prior to 2018 my business was rehabbing homes and then creating wood furniture products. My passion is wood signs and how many ways you can create them.

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