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.

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.

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.

Sign Research Foundation – The Economic Value of On-Premise Signage

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In 1997, the University of San Diego released a landmark study for the sign industry. It was the first time statistical analysis was used to determine the economic impact of on-premise signage to

a business. The research used data from three case studies—a large fast food chain, a national home décor retailer and auto dealers in a metropolitan city—and the results are still widely quoted today.

In 2012, the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center deepened the examination. Leaning heavily on the original work, the University of Cincinnati’s updates included numerous additional case studies: a national lodging chain, a national banking business, a specialty store small business and a car dealership.
Both reports are called “The Economic Value of On-Premise Signage.” They show how signs act as “silent salespersons”—branding businesses, providing information about products and services, and pointing customers to exact locations. In short, an on-premise sign’s economic impact on businesses—directly and indirectly—is significant.

Researchers tackled the topic by exploring how changes in on-premise signage affect business performance. Also part of the studies was the impact on consumers and the surrounding community.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

1. SIGNS POSITIVELY IMPACT CONSUMERS AND COMMUNITIES BY MAKING IT EASIER FOR SHOPPERS TO OBTAIN THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO MAKE A PURCHASE.

■ Sign visibility and conspicuity are especially important. In the case study of eight San Diego auto dealers, for example, 68 percent of people surveyed said that the sign had been an important factor in finding the dealer’s location. In addition, 18 percent reported being aware of the service department because of the dealer’s sign. And when one of the dealers was forced to move a sign to comply with a new code, 21 percent of that dealer’s customer base reported that the business was hard to locate without the sign.

■ Researchers determined that the addition of one sign at every fast-food outlet in Los Angeles would raise business revenues by $132 million; those businesses would in turn pay an additional $10 million in sales tax revenue to the local municipality.

American consumers who have driven by a desired business without finding it due to insufficient signage

American consumers who have driven by a desired business without finding it due to insufficient signage

2. CHANGES TO SIGNS DI2RECTLY IMPACT BUSINESS PERFORMANCE.

■ The studies proved that changes such as adding signs or replacing outdated or inoperable signs had positive effects on sales, number of transactions and profits. Roughly 60 percent of businesses studied reported average sales increases of 10 percent.

■ Just one additional sign yielded sales increases of 4.75 percent, an impact greater than that brought on by a larger building, longer hours of operation or location longevity.

■ Lower-performing stores benefitted the most from changes to signage, such as the addition of a sign to a building that previously didn’t have one.

■ Updates and improvements to existing signs led to a 5 percent weekly sales increase for many stores; underperforming stores saw weekly sales increase by 15 percent.

3. POSITIVE BUSINESS PERFORMANCE IS ASSOCIATED WITH EFFECTIVE SIGN DESIGN, PLACEMENT, AND DIVERSITY OF MEDIA.

■ In the 2012 study, the car dealership found that adding a digital sign board increased not only service department revenue and customer traffic; it also created goodwill as a place for community-related public service messages.

■ A key aspect of effective signage is proper regulation. Ideally, sign regulations balance community design objectives with full knowledge of how sign design and location impact business success. When sign codes are overly restrictive, businesses can be directly affected—as can consumers who have trouble finding those businesses due to inadequate/ineffective signage.

WHAT’S A SIGN WORTH?

North American shoppers who associate sign quality with store and product quality

North American shoppers who associate sign quality with store and product quality.

North American shoppers who make store choices based on the information communicated by store signs

North American shoppers who make store choices based on the information communicated by store signs.

Increase in weekly sales for one business that combined a major building sign modification with two additional minor changes

Increase in weekly sales for one business that combined a major building sign modification with two additional minor changes.

Researchers

University of San Diego (1997): Seth R. Ellis, Ph.D. Robert Johnson, Ph.D. Robin Murphy, M.B.A.

University of Cincinnati (2012): Jeff Rexhausen, Principal Investigator Henry Hildebrandt, Co-Investigator Christopher Auffrey, Ph.D., Co-Investigator

LED Signs – Electronic Message Boards

P-10 Full-Color LED Message Boards

P-10 Full-Color LED Message Boards

We now offer electronic message boards. LED (light emitting diode) technology is a low-voltage, very bright light away to advertise.

Our LED cabinets are for both indoor and (most common) outdoor use. The steel cabinets are water tight and weather proof with a power coat finish. They have built in ventilation systems with front-access to all internal components.

The overall screen is broken up into individual LED modules that are changeable (in the odd case of damage).

Our LEDs are plug and play, meaning you connect to a 120 volt power source (electrical outlet) and are ready to program. We include a brand new laptop, pre=programmed with LED controller software. We also offer complementary initial training and 24-7 tech support. We install remote control software (TeamViewer) for the laptop so a technician can log in and train you, and test/repair and issues from headquarters.

Our LED cabinets are easy maintenance. They self-cool, so you only need to keep the displays free of debris. We offer integrated data connections (plug in an ethernet cable directly from the computer) as well as wi-fi antennas with a range up to 1.5 miles (with clear line of site, meaning no trees or buildings in the way between antennas). Wi-fi access means you do not have to dig up your parking lot or established landscaping to control your new LED panels.

You have the ability to upload images, text in any font, and even videos!

Our LED panels have a (5) year warranty with an expected 20,000 hour lifespan.

Call us for a quote. You will find we offer the highest resolutions at the best prices, and our LEDs are made in the USA with USA tech support.

LED Cabinet Open - Internal Power Supplies and Wiring of Modules

LED Cabinet Open – Internal Power Supplies and Wiring of Modules

Industry Terms:

You should be aware of common mechanics and terms used before investing in an LED message board:

• P-10: P is for pitch, meaning the distance in millimeters between each pixel. Note: P-10 is a BETTER resolution than a P-16. Because the pixels are closer together, you get more pixels (or higher resolution) in the same size area.

• Full-Color: 1R 1G 1B – one red, one green and one blue LED crystal in a triangle to make a single pixel (industry standard). Your TV at home is in RGB as is your computer monitor.

• Power Supplies: Our power outlets are 120v, but LED pixels only require 5v to operate. This is why they are so energy efficient! All LED message centers have built-in power supplies that transform 120v to 5v, then power each of the divided LED modules in the matrix. We do not overload power supplies by making one power supply power all grids, but rather split the electrical load over multiple power supplies to make the cabinets electrically solid and sound.

Call us toll free (800) 735-7209 for questions, or use the Contact Form (right) for a quote.