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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

Carve it Custom

Friday, October 24, 2014

Clear Meadow Farm custom carved signCustom carved wood signs are quickly becoming simply, “custom carved signs.” New materials are replacing wood to make signs last longer and produce a lighter weight product. Custom carved signs still carry a lot of weight for the business that wants to make a statement. Whether made of HDU or PVC -- two of the newer materials for these types of signs -- it’s still a great way to advertise your business, help customers find you, or give people a reason to say, “I didn’t know they did business here!” It’s a permanent sign placed strategically to increase business.

Looking for that strong, traditional image? Hoping to portray your company name in a big way? Put the right foot forward with a custom carved sign. You’re making the right choice if you’re looking for durability, dependability and beauty in a traditional presentation. Custom carved signs made out of the new materials allow signs to serve even greater purposes than previously all-wood signs. They can be closer to the road, take more of a weather beating and sustain heavy impacts. Signs designed with PVC material can also be designed without external (read: visible) fasteners, providing a sleek, clean look.

Keeping your custom carved sign clean is also essential to its life span. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer carefully, remembering to clean your sign at least once every two months. Especially with the new PVC materials, if you don’t keep up with cleaning maintenance, it will look dirty and grimy all too soon. Custom carved signs can customize your look and give your business the recognition it deserves.

Carve Your Business In Their Memories

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why do you need a sign?  It’s a fair question.  Answers might be: to direct people; to attract people’s attention; to let people know where your business resides; to communicate your product to potential customers.  The reasons businesses need signs are as varied as the businesses themselves.  But the overall reason a business needs a sign is so people remember it.   

People will remember a well-placed and well-designed sign that helps them locate a business.  If they can’t find you because you have poor signage, the result will be a frustrated customer.  They will grouse to your staff, complain to their friends, tarnish your good business reputation.  A custom sign for your business will leave a lasting impression and get the entire experience off on the right foot.

Today’s newest materials for custom signs include High Density Urethane or HDU, a material that is designed to look like wood.  HDU is lighter than wood and more weather resistant, so it requires less maintenance.  It can be painted or stained to give the impression of age or a more beautiful wood finish.  Unlike wood, it is resistant to rot and insect pests, so it will last longer and maintain its characteristics.  HDU material can still be hand-painted in any color, carved to look three-dimensional or gilded with gold or silver.  It still gives the impression of wood, but the material simply makes the sign last longer and look better.  A better looking sign makes a better memory for your customers.  That’s a good reason to have a sign.

Build Your Company’s Character From Wood

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Custom-carved signs are a solid representation of a company’s image.  If you are a small or medium-sized business that is looking for a classic, updated look to your custom business signs, consider wood.  It is durable and natural-looking, and it gives the perception of strength.  However, if you choose wood, be sure your plans include maintenance.  More common woods like redwood or cedar can be used for signage, but for outdoor signs, this wood tends to get weathered quickly, and show peeling paint.  

One of the more recent advances in wood signage that overcomes some of these challenges is high density urethane, or HDU.  This material is more stable and weather-resistant than natural wood, is lighter weight for easier moving, and it doesn’t peel or blister.  Made from a combination of closed-cell foam and recycled material, HDU resists moisture, rot and insects.  HDU can be sculpted or painted, and can handle copper or gold leaf gilding.  It can be hand-carved to showcase three-dimensional lettering, logos or designs by your custom sign maker.  

HDU can also be used for two-sided hand-carved signs.  Each side is fastened to a center board of marine grade plywood, giving the final product a thickness of 2 ¾ inches or thicker – stable and strong against wind, rain, or physical contact.  Custom designed wood signs last much longer than vinyl or digitally printed signs, and they can be personalized to your needs.  We think they’re well worth the investment, and we’ve been successful with creating many different looks.  Click this link to see some of them and get ideas for your own wood sign.  

What Material?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Did you ever wonder why a sign you saw looked so bad? Was it rusty or grubby looking? Were there streaks or stains in certain areas? Many times that is the result of poor material selection for either the substrate, the structure or the finish material used. In this post we'll focus a little on the materials used in the substrate and structure - and why some materials are better than others when designing a business sign.

The material used in the structure of a business sign is most often controlled by the size and the cost. For smaller post and panel signs, they are often wood posts, with either wood or aluminum sign panels. We use vinyl components as often as possible because they do not require maintenance and they maintain their good looks for years. Often, if the strength of wood is required, we can use a vinyl post to slide down over the wood post creating a sleeve that will maintain that bright look for years.

But here is where many people make a mistake: Let's assume we used a vinyl post sleeve over wood, and we used an aluminum panel for the sign itself. How do you fasten the panel to the post? The best way is to design the system to interlock and use no fasteners. But when screws are required, you have to choose the right type. Use a standard steel screw that may be coated, and over time you'll watch your sign corrode away. The aluminum - being more reactive than the steel - will become a "sacrificial anode" and it will begin to corrode, protecting the steel screw. For those who might be familiar with boat motors, this is the same principal that applies when outboard engines require a set of "zincs."  These will corrode away, protecting the aluminum engine and lower units.  

The point here is that the choice of materials can have a distinct impact on the appearance of your sign over time - as well as the amount of maintenance required. Choose the wrong materials, and not only will you see deterioration on the sign, but your customers will see that deterioration as an impression of your company.

In upcoming posts, we will cover some other sign materials that can be used or not used in specific environments that will have an impact on your signage.

Blue Water Signs in Forest Hill, Maryland can help you with a wide variety of custom signage. Give us a call at 410-420-2400 or visit us at


A Little Old and A Little New

Friday, February 04, 2011

Hand carved sign: Piqua Country ClubThe sign industry is ever changing with new materials coming out every month. Improvements in standard vinyls as well as the changes that we have seen in the print vinyl are astronomical at times. But when you look at a blend of old technology and new age materials, the best place to see these blend together is when you see carved and hand painted signs used with new style monument signs.

Hand carved wood signs have been around since the beginning of signs. As they progressed, they were not just carved, but they were carved and painted. Later, these signs were masked and then sand blasted to remove material, and later even the use of routers and CNC routers were used to make the signs. But, after all the ways to produce the sign, it is still hand painted by a sign maker that is truly an artist. These signs are first painted with three or more primer coats and then the finished coats are applied.

Carved wood sign: Olde MillIn the past, if you wanted to mount these to a monument sign, the monument was created by either a stone or brick mason and they worked with the sign makers to assure there were ways to mount the sign to the stone. Now, enter the new technology. The Peachtree Monument sign is manufactured in a factory using proprietary foam and coatings that are designed to give the monument sign years of durability. These signs are designed and manufactured to easily allow your hand carved and painted sign to be attached so it looks like they were manufactured together. The photos show a true stone monument sign and a Peachtree monument sign, but both have carved signs attached.

Progress in the sign industry has been able to produce items faster and with less expense than in the past, but there is always a place where the old and the new can meet.

Let us help you determine the sign that helps you meet your needs, be it old or new.

Longevity of Hand Carved Signs

Friday, January 21, 2011

The longevity of a hand carved sign manufactured with High Density Urethane (HDU) can often be measured in time greater than a decade. When using closed cell urethane in a density greater than 15lbs/sq ft, these signs can look great for many years. The way the HDU holds paint when properly prepared and primed using adequate coats can assure that the custom painted sign will hold up to the elements better than most signs.

When making these signs, we use a minimum of 3 primer coats before the routing or blasting process. Then after the routing/ blasting occurs, we then come back and reprime the machined areas 3 times again along with sanding to assure a smooth base for the finish painting. Add on like carved figures are adhered to the surface after priming with a high grade construction base adhesive. This adhesive allows for sanding and filling if required to nice smooth transition of the added components. The finish coats are then applied and there are a minimum of two coats that are applied.

With all the painstaking details that are covered, it is not unheard of these signs to be in use for more than a decade with only minimal cleaning and care required. Cleaning can be done with mild soap and water to remove tree stains and bird droppings. When these signs are combined with the correct posts or even decorative vinyl posts, there is little to do but enjoy your sign.

Hand Carved Signs

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Keller Brown Insurance carved signCarved signs have been around since the beginning of time, but a well designed modern carved sign can say a lot about your business. These signs have progressed with the development of new materials as well as the increased availability of new manufacturing techniques. Along with new machining techniques like CNC routers and milling centers, the long used carving techniques can produce very distinct signs that will make make good use of your company's advertising dollars.

Carved signs can be distinguished by a number of characteristics. They can be distinguished by the addition of raised prismatic letters, routed depth and special cuts, and additional raised objects. One of the most distinguishing attributes is gold leaf. Gilding with gold leaf can make a sign unforgettable when used with dimensional design applications. In the second picture, the horses are gilded just like the letters. Because of the different angles used to produce the letters, they shine in the sun, but the flat surface horses do not show the same shining quality. Gold will not lose its shine like other metals because its most stable state is the metal, not the oxide.

Let us help you design and manufacture a sign that sets you apart from your competition! Learn more about custom wood signs.

Sugardust carved sign

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