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weatherproof plywood alternative

I have a panel about 3x4 feel mounted to posts with electric controls mounted to it. The posts are still fine but the original half inch plywood panel rotted out in about five years. I replaced it with new plywood, three quarter inch, with edging and covered with marine varnish. It rotted out in four years. Someone recommended that I use an artificia; product like NeverRot but I cant find it. Any suggestions?
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Posted 2016-05-09T21:53:51+0000  by DwightArthur DwightArthur

Hello DwightArthur,

Thanks for your question and welcome to the community.

I'm wondering if you used exterior grade plywood for both times the panels rotted on you. 

Using an exterior-grade version greatly reduces the chances of rot over time. Just as important, is the fact that using a high quality coating can lengthen the life of plywood. Generally speaking, an opaque coating like a paint and rated primer gives a longer life versus a transparent stain or clear coat.

Of course, depending on where you live can greatly affect how your panel holds up over time. And as with anything you build from wood that is placed outdoors, great care is needed annually to ensure no signs of damage are occurring. Prevention is easier than replacement, especially in situations like yours.

If you speak to your local Home Depot's Pro Desk, the specialists there can offer you local exterior sheet solutions that isn't plywood. However, if you use a high quality exterior grade plywood as well as an oil-based primer and high grade exterior paint, then you can get a long lasting panel. 

As for in-store options, there are galvanized metal and open fencing options that can withstand extreme temperatures, but ultimately only you can decide what the best choice is for  you.

Be sure to check out your local Home Depot store to ensure you see all the options available. At minimum, make sure all are exterior rated and you are doing your part to ensure it will last a long time through periodic maintenance.


Posted 2016-05-09T22:46:43+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
Joseph is right on in that you'll get better weather resistance from paint than you will varnish but if you want a clear finish, there are high quality spar varnishes available but you aren't going to find them at the local home center.  Epifanes is one brand that has done well in tests but it runs about $35 per quart.

As for a substrate, you might consider using MDO (medium density overlay) or even HDO (high density overlay) which are exterior grade plywood scovered with resin impregnated coating that takes paint very well and both are commonly used for exterior signs.  The next step up would be a true marine grade plywood but the expense of that would only make sense if you want to use a clear finish.  You will likely have to find a specialty plywood dealer for these products.
Posted 2016-05-10T01:39:09+0000  by Adam444
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