Do Not Use Wood For Signs – Protect Your Investment

Signage is an investment. Your sign represents your image, and you need to consider the long-term affects of how you look.

Traditionally, signs were made from wood, or a wood by-product. Such examples include:

  • Redwood – tradition material used in sandblasting wooden signs. For decades, old-growth redwood hasn’t been allowed to be harvested.
  • Cedar – the alternative to old-growth redwood. Clear-grade heart (center of the tree) cedar gives a lesser grain pattern to old-growth redwood.
  • Soft-Wood – Pine, poplar, balsa, etc. are easy to sandblast but do not give the grain pattern relief for dimensional effects, and are not materials that last outdoors.
Wood Signs Will Have Issues - warping, cupping, splintering, mildew, etc.

Wood Signs Will Have Issues – warping, cupping, splintering, mildew, etc.

It’s common sense – wood is a product of nature and has no predictable longevity. When considering different areas have different climates that effect the expansion and contraction of natural wood, why would you want wood as the material for your expensive sign? Ask yourself – how often does the exterior of a wood faced house last before requiring repainting?

It is misleading to tell people that there is ANY commercial grade primer and top-coat finish, in any paint industry from local paint franchises to commercial grade sign enamels, that will prevent or protect wood from deteriorating from expansion and contraction. It’s simply a matter of time before it fails.

A CNC v-groove routed wood sign with the finish failing.

A CNC v-groove routed wood sign with the finish quickly failing.

While you may receive a wood sign that is primed and painted, keep in mind that the finishing system is compromised when you screw through it to mount to posts or your facade, thereby exposing the material to the elements.

There are other products that sign shops offer to reduce the wood failure. While these are cost-effective for the sign producer, they still fail. MDO (marine grade plywood) is a common wood product offered in commercial franchise sign shops. MDO is basically plywood. MDO does offer structural strength of cross-grain laminate layers like typical plywood, but instead of wood glue, MDO uses a fiberglass-style resin. Again, this wood product will fail in a matter of a few years.

Another wood substitute is High Density Urethane, or HDU. HDU is a synthetic wood product and is available in different densities and thicknesses. A typical HDU application is on a front entrance monument in brick masonry at 1.5″ thick and 15 pound (per cubic foot) density. HDU can be CNC routed or sandblasted in a variety of dimensional effects. HDU does not expand or contract, so the primer and top-coat finishes will typically last longer. HDU is a great product solution for exterior commercial grade signage. There is however an issue… HDU being a synthetic material has no natural grain structure for strength but rather is an open-cell foam product. This means it’s easy to break. A 2″ thick HDU sign between posts can be snapped in half easily.

Broken High Density Urethane (HDU) Sign

Broken High Density Urethane (HDU) Sign cracked and faded after short-term use.

The solution for signage substrate is a combination of more current technologies and finishes. Our Best Sign Monuments are made to order, not stock sheets of material pulled off a shelf. This means if you want a sign that will last the test of time, our product can be made (for example) to mount between posts at any thickness required. We can easily produce an 8″ thick sign on 12″ diameter posts that will not expand, contract, or snap on impact. Or better yet, for stand-alone solutions, a sign monument as an architectural form:

Solid Sign Monument Solutions

Solid Sign Solutions – Architectural Monument Forms that impress and last.

Fior more information on how our product is made, visit the how they are made section of our web site. To request a free quote on your next sign project, complete our online contact form with as many details as you can provide. Be sure to include a picture of the intended sign location, or even a rough sketch of what you have in mind with your quote request.

Our experienced sales team and award winning designers will be certain to come up with a cost effective solution that will impress, and protect your long-term investment.

A Cost-Effective Solution To Sandblasted Signs

Traditional sandblasted signs are beautiful, but expensive in the long run.

Sandblasted signs used to be made of old-growth redwood because the 100+ year old wood had a beautiful spaced grain pattern that blasted well, leaving a contrast between the wood grain texture and the raised graphics. They stopped the harvesting of old-growth redwood a few decades ago, which lead sign manufacturers to come up with an alternative solution, one of which was cedar. The more recent was HDU (High Density Urethane).

• Cedar – while similar in color as redwood, the grain pattern is tighter and doesn’t blast as well. Cedar is harvested young, and the seasonal expansion and contraction damages the finish. Regardless of what you are told, there is no commercial primer or topcoat finish that can withstand wood expanding or contracting. This means that just like the exterior of a wood house, a wooden sandblasted sign will have to be repaired and refinished every few years.

• HDU (High Density Urethane) – this is a synthetic wood material that does not expand or contract, meaning the primer and top surface coats will stay intact for the longevity of the paint manufacturer’s specifications. HDU is an open-cell foam, without grain for structural support. HDU does last, and a faux wood grain pattern can be blasted into it, but there is a structural issue. You can walk up to a HDU sandblasted sign and snap it in two pieces (on post application).

There are other factors to take into consideration. Let’s say your sign is 25 feet off the street and traffic is going by at 30 mph, or if you sign is located above your entry door on the facade.

• Do you think viewers will see the dimensional effects of the sandblasting?

• Is it worth the added expense for the sandblasted relief?

Our experience in the field is that it is not worth the added costs of dimensional relief by sandblasting when looking at ROI (Return On Investment) when taking into consideration the maintenance costs and lack of distance visibility.

As with any technology, times change. We offer the ability to computer graphic design a sandblasted sign “look” that can be directly applied to a lifetime, maintenance-free product (such as sheet aluminum). It looks like a sandblasted sign with dimensional effects, but at half the cost.

This is an example of a church that had a dilapidated sign that needed replacing. Here are the before and after pictures:

Saint Gabriel's Church dilapidated sign that needs replacing.

Saint Gabriel’s Church dilapidated sign that needs replacing.

Saint Gabriel's Church aluminum sign panel to look like sandblasted sign, with changeable service hours and pastor name.

Saint Gabriel’s Church aluminum sign panel to look like sandblasted sign, with changeable service hours and pastor name.

As you can see, a little painting and minimal costs on new graphics makes this church look like new.

Contact our sales team with photography of your project and let us make a recommendation.

Funeral Home Monument Signs

Our sign monuments are made to order, and made for any industry.

If you own a funeral home or cemetery, we can make a custom sign monument that complements the architecture of your church or other facility. We can faux match the masonry from your existing building to your new sign monument. Brick, stone – any faux masonry match from a digital photo.

Our products last the test of time. With our decades of experience in every climate and environment imaginable, read assured we stand behind our product. And our solution our product! Our Best Sign Monuments are a combination of class and longevity.

Here are some examples of our previous work in this field:

Coffman Funeral Home & Crematory Sign Monument

Coffman Funeral Home & Crematory Sign Monument

Patterson Funeral Home Sign Monument

Patterson Funeral Home Sign Monument

Midtown Funeral Home Memorial Gardens Sign Monument

Midtown Funeral Home Memorial Gardens Sign Monument

Meierhoffer Funeral Home & Crematory Sign Monument

Meierhoffer Funeral Home & Crematory Sign Monument

Higgerson & Neal Funeral Home Sign Monument

Higgerson & Neal Funeral Home Sign Monument

Fredericks Funeral Home & Cremations Sign Monument

Fredericks Funeral Home & Cremations Sign Monument

Floyd Funeral Home Sign Monument

Floyd Funeral Home Sign Monument

Ramsey Funeral Home & Crematorium Sign Monument

Ramsey Funeral Home & Crematorium Sign Monument

Phillips Funeral Home Sign Monument

Phillips Funeral Home Sign Monument

Evergreen Funeral Sign Monument

Evergreen Funeral Sign Monument

Commercial Sign Monument with Full-Color LED Panels

Orthodontist owned multi-tenant sign monument with full-color P-10 electronic LED panels.

Orthodontist owned multi-tenant sign monument with full-color P-10 electronic LED panels.

Commercial signage is going digital. Electronic LED panels allow the ability to change graphics as demand is needed. A multi-tenant property owner can change a new slot on the fly. Animation grabs attention of drive-by traffic. Promotional programs can be displayed easily and as frequently as wanted.

Getting a full-color electronic LED is a project in itself.

The first issue is getting the LED display approved in the community through the Sign Permit process. The way to battle this issue is to fully understand the problem. Our team speaks all current LED technology. Our staff includes technicians who have personally built electronic LED panels, repaired all major LED manufacturer damaged displays, and retro-fitted new displays with current technology. We offer our knowledge in approaching City Municipalities (and County Properties) with a game plan that satisfies all needs. In many cases, we have been able to get the Municipalities to update their own Ordinances.

The next issue is costs. Yes, electronic LED displays are expensive. It’s basically an outdoor television with a built-in computer, controlled by another computer. The ROI (return on investment) is a no-brainer once you consider the immediate payback on increase in sales and recognition in the community. The ability to promote and/or change information is a bonus that pays back immediately.

This project was for a commercial facility with multiple tenants. It was a County property (more difficult than City ordinance in most situations). We walked the entire project through Permit approval with a dozen Variance applications, which took nearly a year.

Keep in mind that our modular sign monuments are the Best because they ship directly to the job site. These electronic LED panels literally screwed to an integrated support frame in the stucco sign monument. The cost savings in our stucco sign monument, which perfectly matched the architecture and stucco color of the building, deducted from the costs had the client paid a local contractor (architect, masonry contractor, installer, etc.) took a HUGE chunk out of the LED costs. We are high-volume and represent numerous LED manufacturers, so there is savings there as well.

Here are pictures of the unit after delivered to the job site. The LED panels are a P-10 (Pitch 10mm between pixels – 1R1G1B):

Stucco sign monument being lifted in the air during installation.

Stucco sign monument being lifted in the air during installation.

This is a picture of a bright white smile the Doctors wanted on their new full-color LED display:

Bright White Smile picture on P-10 Full-Color LED Panels

Bright White Smile picture on P-10 Full-Color LED Panels

And this is the picture of on the full-color P-10 LED displays after installation and electrical connection:

Orthodontist P-10 Full-Color LED Panels on Stucco Sign Monument.

Orthodontist P-10 Full-Color LED Panels on Stucco Sign Monument.

3-D Graphic Shields for Chateau Elan Estates

Chateau Elan Estates entrance sign monuments with CNC routed sign shields and street names in HDU.

Chateau Elan Estates entrance sign monuments with CNC routed sign shields and street names in HDU.

Chateau Elan Estates is a huge resort and golf community in Georgia. This property has multiple entrances to the residential areas and gold courses.

Best Sign Monuments was asked to produce 3-D embossed shields with the Chateau Elan logo as well as the names of each entrance. After an extensive tour of the 3,000+ acre development, we identified all points of entry and intersections.

Our installation team took specific measurements of each sign location, which were all unique. This information was transferred to our design team who produced mechanicals for perfect fits.

The signs had to match the one existing main entrance that was made way back in the past when the property was originally developed. We recognized the materials to be HDU (high density urethane) and the graphic style was a computer (CNC) routed embossed style. Our sales team matched the color perfect on site, and the project was completed with 100% accuracy in under (2) weeks.

Amtrak Signage – Camden, SC

We have been awarded the Bid Packages for numerous historical Amtrak stations. Our team of artists and fabricators are perfect for the complexity of these locations. The architects have designed the Amtrak locations to modernize the historical building, brining each to ADA compliance.

These Amtrak Stations now have a separate building for a wheelchair lift, directional signage in braille, automatic doors on push-button switches, and both track and field-side station identity markers to let ravelers know which station they are arriving.

These projects are extremely complicated, using 6063 aluminum (high strength) with Matthews metallic enamels and clear coats.

Here are pictures of the Amtrak – Camden, SC Station after installation. Our company is recognized by the architect and construction companies awarded these projects as a “vendor who has delivered on time, and has not made any mistakes in production.”

Amtrak Camden, SC Station Information Directory

Amtrak Camden, SC Station Information Directory

Amtrak Camden, SC Station Location Markers

Amtrak Camden, SC Station Location Markers

Amtrak Camden, SC Station ADA push-button door open assembly with braille photopolymer signage

Amtrak Camden, SC Station ADA push-button door open assembly with braille photopolymer signage

Amtrak Camden, SC Station ADA braille photopolymer signage

Amtrak Camden, SC Station ADA braille photopolymer signage

We have materials and machine setups in place to produce all of the Amtrak Signage, which we ship nationally, ready to install. We include all of the specified mounting hardware down to the masonry drill bit for easy one-day installation that’s right on time, and right every time.

Some Amtrak Stations require specialty items, such as these bollards. We designed these to fit down into a receiver piece that is installed recessed in concrete. We welded handles for lifting, and welded eye-hooks for the ability to lock the bollards in place.

Removable steel bollards with lock assembly and lift handles for Amtrak Station

Removable steel bollards with lock assembly and lift handles for Amtrak Station

Here are pictures of Amtrak Prince, WV Station in our paint booth before shipping. These are the Amtrak Station location markers that are installed both track and fields sides.

Amtrak Prince, WV Station Markers

Amtrak Prince, WV Station Markers

Do-It-Yourself Sign Project – September 2017

Used Golf Carts Funny Sign

Used Golf Carts Funny Sign

Every now and then we come across a person or company that has been quite creative in producing their own sign. This month we tip our hats to this golf cart service and repair shop for the creative use of their own product to advertise their business and services.

We are often asked to be creative in both design and materials. Would you believe that sign sign frame was made from a California king bed frame? We sandblasted the frame, cut it into symmetrical pieces, welded the unique design and power coated the resulting structure.

Garden Plaza - Sign made from a metal bed frame.

Garden Plaza – Sign made from a metal bed frame.

To see more example of our work look at our sign collage photo gallery.

Rutherford Glen Entrance Sign Monument

We are frequently asked to re-vamp and modernize existing sign monuments. To save costs, we recycle as much of the existing structure as possible.

Choice of font (typeface) is a great way to bring and outdated sign monument structure into the present. Color combinations and finishes can make a sign look like a million bucks. Thus example for Rutherford Glen replaced the black marble tiles with a stucco surface. We then pin-mounted 1″ thick letters finished in brushed aluminum enamel so that they floated above the curved surface 1/4″. This installation method creates a drop shadow behind each character, making the text visually ‘pop.’ The slight contrast between the stucco texture (flat finish) with the metallic silver (high gloss finish) truly reflects the high-end image for this luxury community.

Here are before and after pictures of the Rutherford Glen entrance sign monument:

Community entrance sign monument outdated

Original sign structures before revamping.

CNC Routed Letters Community Entrance Sign Monument

1″ thick solid letters finished in brushed aluminum on a curved stucco wall in stacked stone.

Wentzville, Missouri Historic District LED Sign Monument

The City of Wentzville, Missouri contracted best sign monuments to produce their Historic Downtown sign monument with full-color P-10 LED panels.

Wentzville Sign Monument with Full-Color LED

Wentzville Sign Monument with Full-Color LED

This custom sign has integrated programmable LED panels on both sides. With all of our LED sign solutions, a new pre-programmed laptop and wireless (wi-if) controller access was included. Our LEDs are made in the USA and have 24-7 toll free tech support.

This entrance sign has faux brick and The community organizations who sponsored the project are honored with circular dedication plaques embossed in the columns.

Wentzville Historic Downtown Sign Monument with Full-Color LED panel Open

Wentzville Historic Downtown Sign Monument with Full-Color LED panel Open

We make everything in house and ship sign projects fully assembled. This client need only to position the unit and connect the 3 wires to the integrated junction box to a dedicated power feed. The LED functions like on and off, dimming the brightness at night, time and even daylight savings time are all controlled by the pre-programmed laptop. We’ve taken all the difficulties associated with programmable LED panels and simplified all processes into what our clients describe as both “easy to program” and “fun to play with.”

Property Developer Sign Projects

We have recently added a property developer in Maryland to our family of clients!

Here are pictures of the first two properties we produced community entrance sign monuments for. Our clients love that all the design, engineering, and production are under one roof. We are truly a one-stop solution and take everything off our clients’ plate.

Community Entrance Sign Monuments

These are the main entrance signs for Spencer Woods, a townhouse community in Maryland.

Our clients also love that our production methods allow for multiple materials and finishes to be integrated in our signage structures. Most importantly for developers, they can easily install our products themselves, or enlist their landscape contractor to install for them.

Community entrance sign monument for Gablers Shore. This is our signature "wave" model.

Community entrance sign monument for Gablers Shore. This is our signature “wave” model.

Our clients especially enjoy the savings over local contractors using traditional brick and mortar. Our sign monuments are typically one third cheaper, and with a 3-4 week turn around we are typically faster than a local general contractor.

Please complete or online contact form for a free estimate on your next sign project.