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.

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.

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.

Break Away Faux Stone Sign Monuments for Beehive

Beehive is a national assisted living franchise with numerous locations. The entrances to these facilities typically have real brick and mortar block stone monument column marquees with suspended embossed sign panels under wooden post arms that welcoming incoming traffic.

There is an ongoing issue with sign monuments and liability for businesses (and all other entrance-style sign monuments including city municipalities). The monument owner may be liable for driver injury and vehicle damages incurred by vehicle impact, especially in fatal incidents. So if an elderly driver hits your sign and is injured – the facility owner may be liable.

There is a simple solution to this situation which is referred to as a “break away” style sign monument. This means on impact, the monument itself will literally break off the ground and move out of the way, causing minimal vehicle damage and preventing fatal injury.

All of our sign monuments are a break away solution, and in our company history there have yet to be any injuries on impact.

Beehive Homes franchise owners wanted to update their existing entrance marquee signs to a break away style solution, which we easily matched in our faux masonry (foam core base). Here is a picture of the original block stone (real masonry) column-style monument:

Beehive Block Stone Sign Column Monument

Beehive Block Stone Sign Column Monument

And here is our break away style sign monument column in faux masonry before it left our shipping docks:

Beehive Break Away Faux Block Stone Sign Column Monument

Beehive Break Away Faux Block Stone Sign Column Monument

As you can see the faux masonry is a fantastic match to the real stone and mortar. We attached the embossed sign panels we fabricated in a permanent method (versus hanging from chain) to prevent theft or wind damage.

 

Wentzville Missouri Sign Monuments

The City of Wentzville, Missouri has numerous highway entrances. These entrances typically had real brick and mortar block stone monument marquees with cast aluminum oval plaques welcoming incoming traffic.

There is an ongoing issue with sign monuments and liability for city municipalities (and all other entrance-style sign monuments). The monument owner may be liable for driver injury and vehicle damages incurred by vehicle impact, especially in fatal incidents. So a drunk driver hits your sign and is injured – you may be liable.

There is a simple solution to this situation which is referred to as a “break away” style sign monument. This means on impact, the monument itself will literally break off the ground and move out of the way, causing minimal vehicle damage and preventing fatal injury.

All of our sign monuments are a break away solution, and in our company history there have yet to be any injuries on impact.

The City of Wentzville wanted to update their existing City entrance marquee signs to a break away style solution, which we easily matched in our faux masonry (foam core base). Here is a picture of the original block stone (real masonry) monument:

Wentzville, MO real masonry City entrance sign monument

Wentzville, MO real masonry City entrance sign monument

And here is our break away sign monument solution before it shipped from our docks:

Wentzville, MO break away Cirty entrance sign monument

Wentzville, MO break away Cirty entrance sign monument

As you can see we are a perfect match in faux masonry and signage style. Please note the City shipped us the cast aluminum plaques to attach to our product before shipping to the job sites. This ensured a more perfect overall match as we do not cast aluminum.

The Difference Between Monuments Signs and Pylon Signs

What’s the Difference Between Monument Signs and Pylon Signs?

When discussing the appropriate signage to attract the attention of motorists, the graphic artists at Blink Signs frequently suggest the installation of pylon or monument signs for Cleveland business owners. Both signage solutions advertise your company’s presence, brand via the display of your logo and corporate colors, and succeed in catching the eye of drivers. That said, some of our clients feel compelled to switch out their monuments when a nearby business installs a pylon. Should you?

In a word: height. The common monument sign is no taller than about five feet. It displays your message at eye height and incorporates beautifully with your landscaping. The pylon is tall and catches the eye of folks that are still quite a distance away. In fact, most pole signs are taller than the buildings that house the businesses they advertise.

Doesn’t This Make the Pylon the Perfect Sign?

No, it does not. Consider for a moment a neighborhood with a mixed zoning pattern. Residential homes or apartment buildings mix with storefronts, banks, and similar businesses. Having a super tall pylon in this setting makes the company stand out – but not in a good way. It just does not fit the character of the neighborhood.

When Should I Opt for a Pylon?

If your business is located in an industrial area where distances between manufacturing plants and storage facilities measure in city blocks, it makes sense to erect a pylon and alert motorists in search of your company to your location. A pylon is also a good idea when your business is one of many that are situated along a highway, interstate or four-lane road. Vehicles travel at higher speeds, and catching the eye of drivers earlier is to your advantage.

Remember also that you do not have to opt for the tallest pylon that we can manufacture. Mall management companies like to use pylons to display the names of the stores doing business at their venues, but they do so with signage that is of moderate heights and, therefore, suits the character of the area. Most business clients who order pylon signs will opt for lit versions to enhance the visibility of their messages.

How Do I Know that a Monument is Right for Me?

If you are located along a two-lane road, a four-lane road with a lower speed limit or within a more residential setting, a monument is a good option. Moreover, remember that you have options concerning the display of your company’s information, which can increase the visibility of your marker. For example, installing a digital reader board lets you change your message and catch the eye of motorists in this manner. Lit box cabinets and channel letters also work well.

Discussing Monument and Pylon Signs in Cleveland with an Expert

Contact our graphic artists for more information on these signage solutions. We welcome the opportunity to visit your location and conduct a site survey. At that time, we also investigate the signage used by your nearest competitors. During our consultation, we can offer you suggestions regarding the ideal height for the signage advertising your business.

How To Install A Sign Monument with Concrete Footer

While we proudly advertise that our custom sign monument solutions do not require a concrete footer (they are designed and produced to rest directly on the ground), we do run into situations where a concrete footer (or concrete slab) is required by local Code.

Our installation kits include schedule 40 steel pipes, which go below grade in all installation applications, the rest post length goes up into the monument itself. As you can see in this example, a simple wood form was created, the pipes positioned, then QuikRete Concrete mixed and poured in place. The next step is to lift the sign monument and slide it down the step pipes. We decide our wooden form to accept the sign monument while the concrete was still wet (ask our experts). Due to the height of this particular project, we used a lift to get the monument up in the air with ease.

Here are pictures of the project throughout the installation process.

Sign Monument Concrete Slab & Footer Installation

Sign Monument Concrete Slab & Footer Installation

Sign Monument Installation with a Bucket Truck Lift

Sign Monument Installation with a Bucket Truck Lift

DFACS Sign Monument Installed on Concrete Footer & Pad

DFACS Sign Monument Installed on Concrete Footer & Pad