Friday, November 7, 2014

How long will a Wooden License Plate last?

It's been about 18 months since I made this Wooden License Plate.  Our van recently bit the dust after transporting Carmichaels over 200,000 miles for 15 years, so I removed the license plate before we said our goodbyes.  If you missed my original video on this project, watch it below to get caught up.

Let's take a look at how the license plate has weathered over the last year and a half.  I originally sprayed the license plate with a few coats of Deft spray lacquer as a test to see how it would hold up.  A few days after the video, I decided to paint the logo black and gold with Rustoleum spray paint to make it stand out more.  Overall, the wood held up well considering the harsh conditions it was under, but it doesn't look all that great anymore.

This plate has been exposed to sun, wind, rain, sleet, hail, and snow.  It's dirty and has turned gray where the lacquer has worn away.  I suspect this is the effect of UV rays.  Notice the spots where the lacquer remains and the wood color has not changed much.  The paint held up pretty well, except where it has come off on certain lines of the wood grain, which is interesting.  The back of the license plate is in much better shape because it was mostly protected from the harsh elements.

So how long will a wooden license plate last?  It looks like that depends on the protective finish.  I was considering sanding the license plate down to the bare wood and refinishing it with a different product that would provide better protection, such as spar varnish.  But, I've decided to leave it as is and hang it on the wall in the shop.  I kind of like the weathered look, plus it has a story to go along with it.

As a result of this project, I heard from people all over the world about which states and countries require official license plates on both the front and rear of vehicles.  It appears that the majority do these days.  My home state of Georgia still only requires an official plate on the rear.  I wonder if that may change in the near future.  That's ok, because these make great desk and wall decorations too!


  1. up here in Maryland the only plate of the two that gets stickers in the rear, so I often see just that plate.

  2. Did you figure out what wood you used?


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