Posted by Frank Murch | Feb 10, 2015 2:57:00 PM
Sandblasted Signs 3 steps you should know
Sandblasted Signs are common in certain areas. Specifically in the downtown areas of Carlsbad, and to a lesser degree Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista. As renovation in these areas turns them from tired and old to trendy and walkable more and more sand blasted signs are appearing.
They are used as monument signs (in front on buildings), Professional offices (Doctors, demists, CPAs, Lawyers, insurance), Residential (Apartments, Condominiums, classic and vantage homes), Schools, Churches, Parks and Historical locations.
The look and feel of sandblasted signs is distractive. It is respectful of the history, but it can still make a modern and impactful impression. If you are in one of these special areas, it will be strongly suggested through the zoning. Sandblasted signs are also able to convey a strong tone of stability, permanence or class. They are idea for professional space.
So what is in a sandblasted sign? Here are a 3 guidelines to know about sandblasted signs:
Materials: Really there are only a few. Redwood, Cedar and HDU. Redwood and Cedar are natural woods that have the advantage of being insect resistant (no termites) and resistant to wood rot. Resistant does not mean they are totally immune. These woods can get soft and decay over time. They need protection in the form of paint to have a long life. HDU is High Density Urethane. It comes by weight, 5 pound, 10, 15, 25.. The higher the number the heavier the material and the longer is lasts. 15 pound is common. It is lighter than wood, it will never rot and insects have no interest in it. It also dents and somewhat fragile and lacks the heft and strength of wood. It also lacks the character of a wood grain. So what is best? It depends, but I like Redwood. It is dense, strong, has character and the negatives will take years to realize.
Finishes: Nearly all sand blasted signs are painted. The paint is normally a combination of a lettering paint like the brand “One Shot” and high quality exterior paint. Oil based paints are still common and there is normally a sealer and a finish coat. This paint may last many years, but the sign can easily outlast the paint and will need to be repainted at some future date. Restoring older signs is a part of what we do – stripping and refinishing these signs is a bit of an art. Picking colors? I always try to use contrasting colors. Using the colors on the building is a good start.
Limitations and Fonts: Sandblasting is not an exact way of cutting a letter and as a result very fine lines, pointed logos and other thin features are difficult. They can be done, but they take extra time, finer sand and wear less well. For the same reasons small lettering does not work well. Generally using bolder fonts, without thin, narrow or sharp features is best. When you need more, it is very possible to have a flat area where a digital picture can be layer in is possible. Arial Bold and Helvetica are nearly always good choices.
We start with your design and cut a mask from a special type of rubber. Applying the mask to the wood our HDU is not straight forward, we sand, paint and seal the wood to get the tightest bond to the wood and the mask. The sandblasting is a stream of partials that hit the wood and chip it away. The mask protects areas and the partials bound off. The blast is not 100% uniform. In wood, parts of the grain are harder than others and the blasting exposes and highlights the grain. In HDU there is a pebble finish. It is possible to have a metal mask to simulate a wood grain in HDU as well.
Once the mask is attached and the blasting done, we clean the sign and repaint it with a sealer, removing the mask. Then we paint the edges and back – sometimes we repaint mistakes with a filler or recut edges. The next step is to hand paint the wood. This takes time and is very labor intensive. A steady hand and a good eye are required. After the paint cures we work though the mounting details and install the sign.
At Signs for San Diego we like Sand Blasted Signs. Interested? Give us a call