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The Power of Outdoor Metal Signs: Unleash Your Creativity

Welcome to the world of outdoor metal signs, where durability meets creativity and style blends seamlessly with functionality. In this guide, we’ll explore the essentials of outdoor metal signs, from the rustic charm of naturally rusted pieces to the sleek finishes of powder coating and galvanizing. Join us as we uncover the secrets of these versatile signs and discover how they can elevate any outdoor space with their unique appeal.

Rusted Metal Signs and Art

If you’re trying for rusty metal yard art pieces or rusted metal signs, all you have to do is leave your mild steel item outside and let nature work her magic to naturally rust the sign.

But be careful where you place it; rust can discolor surfaces, and if you leave a metal object leaning against a wall or on a window sill, you might see some orange stains beginning to show!

To prevent this, you can seal your object with many coats of clear lacquer or varnish once it has rusted to a point where you are comfortable with it. Alternatively, for a more natural look, you can apply some beeswax or linseed oil. This will need to be reapplied approximately every six months as it will slow the rust but not completely stop it.

Not fond of rust?

Depending on your budget and desired appearance, there are several ways to seal metal signs for outdoor use if you don’t want a rusty sign.

Customizing an Outdoor Metal Sign with Paint

The least expensive choice is to paint your sign, which you can accomplish rather quickly on your own.

All you have to do is use white spirit or something similar to degrease the object, sand it to “key” the metal so the paint will adhere to it, and then paint it.

Make sure you use paint that is appropriate for outdoor use, like Hammerite, when painting a metal sign for your garden. 

Applying Powder Coating to an Outdoor Metal Sign

Although hiring a professional powder coater will increase the cost of your metal sign, the finish will be more durable than paint.

Powder coating is just what it sounds like an item is sprayed with a fine powder, which is then baked in an oven to solidify it. 

Look for a powder coater who has worked with flat signs in the past and, if at all feasible, request to see samples of their previous work. Inform the powder coater that your sign is intended for outside usage and that priming will be required beforehand. Although paint provides a bright appearance, powder coating should result in a smooth, run-free finish.

How to Galvanize a Metal Sign

An additional choice for outdoor metal signs is galvanizing. To create a protective layer around a mild steel object, galvanizing involves submerging it in a bath of molten zinc.

Paint and powder coating are not as agricultural-looking as galvanizing. It’s usually highly textured and used for farm gates; the thick coating should last a lifetime. When finished, it is typically a metallic silver, however, it can be painted over and will eventually dull.

Metal and Wood Signs

You must use (much) more caution if you intend to put your metal sign on a wooden surface.

When mild steel is exposed to moisture, it can react with some wood species, such as oak, and turn the wood a dark blue or black color. That’s because the oak has come into contact with iron, which is why you might be wondering, “Why has my oak turned black?!”

The tannic acid in the mild steel iron pulls out of the wood, turning it black and giving the metal sign a greasy texture. When the sign is damp, such as outside, or gets wet, this procedure takes place.

Use beeswax or linseed oil on your metal sign if it will be placed in a covered area. These substances will slow down, but not completely stop, rust.


Outdoor metal signs offer a myriad of possibilities for adding charm and functionality to any outdoor space. Whether you prefer the rustic allure of naturally rusted signs or the sleek finish of powder coating, there’s a method to suit every taste and budget.

For those seeking a weathered aesthetic, allowing mild steel signs to naturally rust over time can add a unique touch to your outdoor decor. However, if rust isn’t your desired look, options like painting, powder coating, or galvanizing provide durable finishes that can withstand the elements while maintaining their visual appeal.

When placing metal signs on wooden surfaces, it’s essential to consider potential reactions between the metal and certain wood species. Protecting the sign with beeswax or linseed oil can help mitigate rust and prevent discoloration of the wood.

Overall, the versatility and durability of outdoor metal signs make them an excellent choice for enhancing storefronts, gardens, and outdoor spaces of all kinds. Whether you’re aiming to attract customers to your business or simply add a personal touch to your home, these signs are sure to make a lasting impression. So, go ahead and explore the magic of outdoor metal signs to transform your outdoor space into a captivating destination!

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