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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

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


Farm Signs

Tuesday, November 02, 2010
farm sign for Wild West Farms in MDFarm signs have been around as long as farms have been. In the past it may have been as simple as a pile of stone placed in a specific pattern so everyone new the owner of the property behind the stones. We all remember the post and rail fence with the high board entrance that the cowboys rode under in the westerns.

Options: The Right Sign for Your Farm

Today there are a number of options available to farms that range from post and panel signs, blasted or carved signs placed on a monument or the simple hanging sign. The sign we will deal with today is the simple post and panel sign. The photo you see here is an example that we've created here at Blue Water Signs. 

These signs can take on different shapes from the panel being a simple square to some that have routed and sculptured edges. Panels are often made out of a marine grade painted plywood that has very good durability and is very stable in the weather for many years.

Other panels include cedar and redwood. Then there are aluminum clad polymers that are becoming more popular because of their cost and ability to withstand the elements. In an earlier post there were examples of routed signs in the park that can be used for farm signs.

The graphics on these signs can be printed, or cut from vinyl or a combination of both. When designing to use a printed sign the print must be protected from the elements, including the UV rays from the sun. There are two ways to achieve this protection: a liquid laminate that is sprayed or rolled onto the print, or a hard laminate that is rolled onto the print (either hot or cold). Either one of these solutions will add years to the life of the print on the sign.

Being located in a rural community, Blue Water Signs has lots of experience with designing and installing signs for local farms. We also know how important it is for that sign to reflect the character of the farm, yet still present a professional image to local customers. Please contact us for the opportunity to develop the perfect sign for your farm.

Face Lift for an Old Sign

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Has the post and panel sign in front of your building lost its pop? Give it a face lift using new materials that will not only make the sign look great today but will keep it looking great well into the future with minimal maintenance.

In the past a lot of signs were made using 4" x 4" painted post as the support for the sign. These post required regular painting to assure that the signs maintained its appearance. With the improvements in materials and the cost reduction due to competition the option of using a vinyl post now allows for a long term, low maintenance alternative. These post can be used as a sleeve to go down over the existing 4 x 4 post reducing the need to dig and disturb landscaping around the sign or they can be used as a direct replacement for the wooden posts. These posts maintain their look for many years with only the occasional washing with water and a sponge to maintain the clean look.

This is what was done with the sign pictured below.

Dean Insurance Before

Dean Insurance After Dean Insurance After, with rider and plantings

Panel material is often marine grade plywood that is referred to as MDO. These panels can easily be routed to a new outside shape that will draw attention to the "new sign". The use of a laminated vinyl print finishes up the new sign. There are many other options for the panel that will be discussed in a later article.

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