Any professional sign makers here?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by diane greene, Dec 16, 2004.

  1. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    297
    Joined:
    May 12, 2002
    I paint the signs for our nursery business and am having trouble knowing what wood to use. I have started using "Stop Rot" as the preservative base, followed by two coats of primer and then I do the color coat with sign paint I bought from Dick Blick art supplies. I do rather elaborate paintings with acrylic paints sealed with a sign varnish.
    The question is: What is the best wood to use and is it possible to use glued (attached? compressed?) board to make a sign -say 2.5x3' or larger? I see large painted signs on business' everywhere, but I have no idea where they are getting the panels. I have tried Lowes and Home Depot and no one there seems to understand the problem. They suggested compressed board, but I am afraid that will just rot and peel in a short time. Any secrets you can share? Thanks.
     
  2. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,287
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2004
    Location:
    New York
    My mother used to paint signs professionally. She just used regular finish-grade (sanded) plywood. She primed the wood with Gesso, then used regular Acrylic paints for the artwork on the sign. Once the sign was finished, she used a clear sealer on the entire sign, including the back and the edges. If you are extremely concerned about rot, you could allways use pressure treated plywood, although I am not certain how well that can be painted. If the signs are going to be used for several years, what you might want to do is re-apply the clear coat sealer every spring. Another idea would be to have a 'frame' around the outside of the sign to keep the plywood from delaminating.
     

  3. HoosierDeb

    HoosierDeb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    278
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    N. Indiana
    I'm not a sign painter but my brother is. I know that he uses a special sheet... I think it's 4x8 like plywood for his signs. I don't know what it's called or where he gets it but I can call him tonight if you don't get an answer before then. It's made in layers like plywood then has a special coating or covering on it to make it very smooth and, I suppose, durable especially for sign painting.
     
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    7,154
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Exterior grade plywood will last out in the weather for years. It needs to be painted to prevent weathering of the outside surface. Covering the edge with metal roof edging would give the edges protection, plus a finished look.
     
  5. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    297
    Joined:
    May 12, 2002
    Thanks folks - I will call our local lumber places and see if they have the plywood. Any other ideas are still welcome.
     
  6. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,260
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    AR
    marine grade plywood covered with clear coat 2 part epoxy it last on boats for 30 years the lasdt wood youll have to buy a little more money but worth it
     
  7. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,260
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    AR
    the epoxy is a polyester resin
     
  8. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    I keep hearing on some of the home improvement shows that MDF (medium density fiberboard) is used by some department of transportations for signage.
    While it doesn't seem like it is much more than saw dust the mixture that sticks it together must make it water resistant.

    Decades ago the church I attended had highway signs made. They were painted on tempered hardboard, i.e. Masonite. They lasted for several decades with only one ever being repainted. There is also a plastic like material being sold in some stores like Orschlens. It comes in 4' X 8' sheets, is made in Nebraska, and comes in various thicknesses. I bought and donated a sheet to the local Kids Museum for signage. I got a somewhat thicker sheet and it cost $49. Various thicknesses cost differently. Understand a lot of folk line horse stalls with it.

    I wouldn't be surprised if you can't buy old road department signs of aluminum. Just paint over the old decal or use the reverse for the new message. Pre-cut and pretty well ready to go without worry of rusting or rotting.
     
  9. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    diane,
    I'm not a sign maker, either. But, I did have professional signs made by a graphic artist and sign maker. For the outdoor billboard type sign, she showed me the matial used. It's like 3/4" think plywood, but it isn't totally wood. It'a composite that's supposed to last longer. There is a name for that product, though it escapse my memory for now. You could probably google to find out that product, but just so you know there is stuff out there more than plywood that signmakers use. It comes white, and the background can be painted before applying your art or lettering.
     
  10. Bret F

    Bret F Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    654
    Joined:
    May 4, 2004
    Location:
    Idaho
    I work in a sign shop.

    When using wood, we use MDO, like MDF as mentioned above, but the O is for "overlay" which is a white vinyl type surface that is very flat and readily accepts paint or vinyl. MDO is also known by some people as "Duraply". We also use a product called "Medex", a high denisty particle board that stands up well out doors. When using any of the wood products, it is important to seal the edges with an exterior paint. It is becoming very rare in the sign business to find hand painted signs. Most of them are now done with vinyl, cut on computer driven plotters.

    We have to purchase the MDO or Medex from a specialty wood supplier or a sign supplier. I have never seen them at the Depot or a lumber yard.

    We are actually getting more away from the wood panels. We have been using a material called "Dibond", a composite with thin mill aluminum on each side of a plastic material. It holds up better out doors and is much lighter. It is available in 4' x 8', 4' x 10', and 5' x 10' sheets in a variety of finish colors. It is also available through sign suppliers.

    And from the "you didn't hear that from me" department: if you are needing a sign layout but are not sure exactly how it should look, most sign companies do art work for no cost, assuming they will recoup the cost in the manufacturing process.
     
  11. HoosierDeb

    HoosierDeb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    278
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    N. Indiana
    The MDO is what I was thinking of. I'm pretty sure it has to come from a sign supply place.
     
  12. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    297
    Joined:
    May 12, 2002
    Thanks again everyone - I'm fine with layout and artwork (graphic design & fine art background) it was the proper "canvas" that alluded me. I'm sure I can find the above in my local metropolis.
     
  13. Nancy in Maine

    Nancy in Maine Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2002
    Hi Diane, while I'm not exactly a "professional" sign painter, I have made a number of them over the years. The best material I've used is something we call "sign board". It looks like MDF, but it has to be EXTERIOR Grade! It comes in various thicknesses. (1/4", 1/2", 3/4", etc.) And comes in a big 4'x8' sheet. I think the 3/4" runs about $50/sheet. My local hardware store orders it for me when I need a sheet.

    I made a boo boo last year and didn't get the exterior stuff. The sign didn't even make it through one season. :waa: I'll be painting another one this winter. :rolleyes:

    Anyway, It has a very smooth surface for painting. I've used the craft paints with good results. But the sign has to be sealed very well with a good exterior grade varnish. I've also used sign painter's enamels, if there is no artwork, just lettering.

    Happy painting!
    Nancy