Protecting Your Outside Artwork From The Weather

Protecting Your Outside Artwork From The Weather

Over the past several years I’ve been created painted canvas signs to hang outside our front door. My first one came about before Halloween, several years ago, when I had a dark Ada painted canvas. I was debating what to do with the canvas which lead to looking online for Halloween art ideas and finally ended up with this footprint ghost idea. I saw both kids wouldn’t fit on one canvas very easily and so grabbed another and created Halloween footprint ghosts. After that I made my Thanksgiving turkeys and, as the year progressed, made several more kid-stamped art including Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. About a year ago I broke from the prints and created simple balloon Happy Birthday signs for both Ada and Zoey so the door wouldn’t be bare on their birthdays. During this entire time I never got around to protecting the canvas and paint from the sun. At first I put it off because our front door was in a breezeway protected from the sunlight and rain. Since we moved this task has been pushed closer to the top of my list but I still kept putting it off until now. I wanted to share with you what I did so whether you have painted artwork hanging outside your front door or are looking to protect something else elsewhere this could help you.

Pinterest image showing several pictures including the finished artwork and the art in progress. All pictures are also shown below.

To protect my artwork I knew I’d used my tried and true Mod Podge. There are many types of Mod Podge on the market but for this project I decided to go with outdoor Mod Podge since the canvases will be hanging outside for about a month at a time each year. If you’re interested in learning about the other types of Mod Podge I found a “Learn How to Mod Podge for Beginners” post on Mod Podge Rocks with a long list of questions and answers.

This was so simple. I opened up a cardboard box I had to protect the surface I was painting on (stove top the first time and I used the table later on) and then grabbed three drinking glasses to keep the canvas above the cardboard so the Mod Podge wouldn’t stick the canvas and cardboard together. Just as an aside the glasses didn’t stop the canvas if it started to slide so I had to hold the canvas in place as I painted. I then also grabbed a foam brush to spread the Mod Podge around and of course the outdoor Mod Podge itself. And then I was ready to go.

The Thanksgiving turkey handprint canvas is shown below the camera. The glasses are hidden below the canvas and the cardboard is sticking out from underneath. The bottle of mod podge and the foam brush are to the left of the canvas.
After protecting my surface I balanced the canvas on three drinking glasses to keep it above the cardboard before laying out the outdoor Mod Podge and a foam brush.

I figured it would be simplest to pour the Mod Podge out onto the canvas and then use the foam brush to spread it out. I knew I’d rather pour too little and have to add more than pour too much. Once I had enough Mod Podge on the canvas I put the bottle aside and grabbed my foam brush making sure the edges of the canvas were painted first. Once that was done I spread the Mod Podge making sure to go in only the one direction so all the streaks left from the brush would be going the one way and not chaotically everywhere. If I had to go in a different direction to move excess Mod Podge to a different area I then went back over the area in the proper direction to fix the streaks.

Top of the canvas shown with the Mod Podge pouring out of the bottle on the canvas.
I found it quicker to pour the Mod Podge directly onto the canvas and then spread it rather than dipping my foam brush into the bottle and transferring it to the canvas. This may result in a thicker layer than if you brushed it on.
The canvas from above is on it's side so the lines caused by the foam brush appear to be going horizontal but in reality they're vertical on the canvas. To the side is the jar of Mod Podge and the dirty foam brush.
You can see I kept moving the Mod Podge up and down with the foam brush rather than to the sides so all the lines go vertically rather than horizontal.

Once I was done I left it out to dry. The directions say to leave it to dry for 72 hours before you put it outside so I left the canvas on the glasses for a couple of hours, until the Mod Podge went clear, before transferring it to a high out of the way spot to wait out the rest of it’s time. I set a reminder on my phone to notify me in 72 hours so I could ‘forget’ about it and be reminded later without having to constantly analyze how much time had past.

Side view of the canvas allows you to see the drinking glasses holding the canvas up. There are two glasses at either of the bottom corners and one centered at the top. The ribbon at the top of the canvas dangles down and brushes the cardboard. The used foam brush and closed mod podge bottle are visible at the bottom side.
View from the side after having painted the canvas. This seemed the easiest way to keep the canvas above the cardboard.
Top sideways view of the Thanksgiving canvas. There are vertical streaks of white near the center and the rest is clean allowing you to see the painting below.
After a couple hours you can easily tell what is still wet (the white) and what has mostly dried (the transparent part). I waited until it was all clear before moving it to the top of our book shelves to finish drying.

I then went on to do the Halloween canvas. I needed more drinking glasses to keep this one level since it’s two canvases attached with ribbon. It was also harder to keep the Mod Podge off the ribbon and this would’ve been so much easier if I protected it with the Mod Podge before gluing the ribbon on. Like before I poured the Mod Podge onto either canvas before grabbing my foam brush and spreading it out making sure to also get the sides of the canvas. I then left it on the table until the Mod Podge dried enough to go transparent and then moved it out of the way to finish up it’s 72 hour waiting time.

Both canvases laid out suspended over the cardboard below. The bottom canvas already has mod podge laid out on it and the top one is currently getting it poured onto it.
After balancing the canvas onto drinking glasses I poured the Mod Podge onto both canvases. This layout needed two glasses at the bottom of the horizontal canvas, one at the top of the vertical, and one upside down cup in the middle keeping both canvases level. I left the middle cup upside down so there would be no chance of getting Mod Podge inside it.
The bottom of the glasses are just peeking out from under the balanced canvases. You can hardly see the image on the canvas as the mod podge is spread on and white right now. Used foam brush and bottle of mod podge are at the bottom of the photo.
I tried to make sure the sides had enough Mod Podge applied before brushing the Mod Podge evenly over the top. I ended up brushing the Mod Podge horizontally on the bottom canvas and vertically on the top one.
Canvases are clear around the sides and edges while still being white and wet on most of the canvas.
After drying for a bit the edges started to go transparent while the rest stayed opaque… so far.
The light reflecting off the bottom canvas shows the foam brush lines on the mod podge but it's all dried enough to be transparent.
Once all the Mod Podge went transparent I moved the canvases out of the way to finish drying (minimum 72 hours) and got started on the next canvas.

After I finished the above canvases I worked on the next two canvases at the same time. After those I did the last three canvases at once. The Mod Podge was viscous enough that it took forever to pour out of the bottle so each time I made sure to pour the Mod Podge onto all of the canvases I was working on before brushing it evenly as I didn’t want to wait for it to start pouring each time. It was simplest to paint the canvas after the kids went to bed and then I could leave them on the table all night before moving them before breakfast.

The two Happy Birthday signs are propped up on glass cups on an opened cardboard box, like before, while the Valentine's Day loved sign is on a microwave dish cover to the right.
The last time I painted three canvases at once so they didn’t all fit on my cardboard box. I ended up grabbing the microwave dish cover to prop the last canvas up on.

Once the Thanksgiving canvas was done drying I quickly put it up on the command hook beside our front door. I feel so much better knowing that the little turkey hand prints are safer behind the outdoor Mod Podge layer.

The "Happy Thanksgiving from our turkeys to yours" sign is hung up and showing off the girls little hand prints.
Turkey sign glossy and all hung up outside.

I then waited until the last canvas was dry before taking some pictures of them all laid out. The outdoor Mod Podge made them glossy so it was hard to get a photo without their reflections getting in the way.

Six of the canvases laid out all with dried mod podge on them. There's a bit of glare in the center making it harder to see.
Another picture of all six canvases this time with the glare on the Happy Birthday signs more than the other.

I then put all the extra canvases back in their little basket. I keep them here all in one place making it simple to switch the canvases out when the holidays change. I love that all the canvases are together so I don’t have to go searching for each holiday’s canvas as that holiday approaches. I also like how it doesn’t matter when we go through the Christmas boxes since I can easily hang up the Christmas sign once Thanksgiving is over and wait on the boxes until we have time to go through them.

Dollar Tree plastic teal basket with all the canvases ordered by holidays within it. It's missing the Thanksgiving sign since that's currently beside the front door.
If I make any more canvases I’m going to have to get a bigger basket. Loving seeing them all together.

I love how simple it was to coat the canvases with Mod Podge. I love how protected the canvases are and can’t believe I put it off for so many years. I’d love to see the artwork you’re protecting. Feel free to share it in the comments below, on my Facebook page, or through Instagram. I hope coating your artwork goes smoothly and you have a great day.

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