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.

Church Sign Monuments With Electronic LED Message Panels

We make the BEST church sign monuments!

Church Sign Monument with Faux Stone

Church Sign Monument with Faux Stone

Church Sign Monument with 3-D Carved Cross

Church Sign Monument with 3-D Carved Cross

We can add electronic LED message boards to our sign monument structures, or even send you the LED boards to attach to your existing sign monument. We offer the latest in LED (light Emitting Diode) technologies, including mono-chrome (single color red or amber), try-color (thousands of colors) or the best, Full-color (millions of colors).

All of our LED panels come with a brand new laptop, pre-programmed with not only the LED panel control software, but also TeamViewer remote access software so out 24-7 tech support team can log in at any time and support your devices.

We offer a (5) year warranty and initial training, all inclusive, with a 20,000 hour expected lifespan.

We offer better resolution (P-10, meaning Pitch 10 millimeters between pixels in the array) which gives you a television-style appearance in the field – all for a lesser price than the other major competitors that are also made in the USA. Our tech support is in the USA as well.

Here are pictures of church sign monuments we have wither built with integrated LED panels on our floor before shipping, or LED panels we have installed on existing church sign monuments:

First Assembly Full-Color LED Sign Monument Installed

First Assembly Full-Color LED Sign Monument Installed

Baptist Church Full-Color LED Sign Monument

Baptist Church Full-Color LED Sign Monument

Baptist Church Full-Color LED Sign Monument Before Shipping

Baptist Church Full-Color LED Sign Monument Before Shipping

Creekside Methodist Church Full-Color LED Sign Monument

Creekside Methodist Church Full-Color LED Sign Monument

Call us toll free at (800) 735-7209 for your Church Sign Monument needs!

Sign Letter Visibility Chart

How big do my letters need to be on my sign?

Thee are several factors in determining sign letter style and size for your sign monument or building signage. These factors include:

  • Font Selection (AKA Typeface Style)
  • Viewing Distance
  • Color Combination

Font Selection: There are generally two types of fonts. Serif fonts and Sans Serif Fonts. Serif fonts have thinner character width but added ‘tails’ to the corners. Sans Serif fonts are more of a block style, and not as fancy.

Serif Font Versus Sans Serif Font

Serif Font Versus Sans Serif Font

While Serif fonts look better up close, they may disappear at a distance if too small. We are NOT suggesting to use only Sans Serif fonts – you don’t want to look like a military base for your main business or community entrance sign! We are simply trying to explain that correct font selection is determined by viewing distance, speed of traffic, etc. It’s important! See this illustration from a distance on your monitor:

Sans font versus Sans Serif font from distance.

Stand back from your monitor – Sans font versus Sans Serif font from distance.

In short, the font type that you choose greatly impacts the visibility of your text. Very thin fonts and script fonts can potentially decrease visibility. When choosing fonts, you want a bold style font that is easy to read with sufficient spacing between letters. You can test this by typing in a few words in a computer program at different font styles, colors, and sizes, and printing them out and posting them on a wall. Stand back and view them at different distances to see how all these aspects come into play in choosing the proper lettering for your sign.

Viewing Distance: The height of your characters (letter size) is an important factor in designing your sign. This chart illustrates the impact of letter height versus how far away the lettering is viewed:

Sign Letter Height Visibility Chart

Sign Letter Height Visibility Chart

Color Combination: Another important factor is to use contrasting colors when designing your sign. Text color with a contrasting background can increase the impact and visibility of your sign by making your text stand out more. On the other hand, using a background color that is similar to your text color can make your text almost impossible to see at any distance. We are vastly experienced in utilizing color combinations in our designs – our goal being to skillfully demand attention with ‘class.’

While we can match ANY color from paint manufacturer batch code (or color name), we stock the ultimate color pallet in commercial sign enamels. These commercial grade enamels are specifically for signage, and have color scheme combinations that we know work best together.


Sign Color Chart

Our expert designers will design a signage solution that maximizes color usage for visual impact, taking into consideration your company logo design, font selection, and viewing distance. Contact our Design Team for consultation.