Painting PVC letters

RiSun

New Member
We have a job where were are going to cut out some lettering out of 1/2" PVC. We are using white PVC, but we want to paint some of the letters gold. What is the best way to do this?? What paints/primers do you suggest? How do you prep the surface??

Thanks!
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
Are these going inside or outside ?? That'll make a big difference. Also, what size are these letters and how are they being mounted/installed ??
 

RiSun

New Member
Are these going inside or outside ?? That'll make a big difference. Also, what size are these letters and how are they being mounted/installed ??
They are going outside. It is a script font that goes on an angle. Biggest letter is around 3' x 5'. We are stud mounting them into a stucco wall.
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
Then, you're basically using the wrong substrate. Re-think what you want to do and how to approach such a task with something thicker and can take paint..... and the elements. Heck, even 3/4" duraply letters would be better. They'd last ya 15 years, at least.
 

RiSun

New Member
Then, you're basically using the wrong substrate. Re-think what you want to do and how to approach such a task with something thicker and can take paint..... and the elements. Heck, even 3/4" duraply letters would be better. They'd last ya 15 years, at least.
I misspoke - we are using 3/4" PVC. We are seeing all the time in sign magazines people cutting lettering out of PVC. We figured since this is going on a north facing wall, the PVC would be fine??

I understand what you're saying about the duraply - but I have replaced SOO many signs over the years that were duraply and it failed miserably.
 

GVP

New Member
We've used latex paint with good success - easy to work with as long as you're not looking for a glossy finish. Assuming you're using a foamed pvc like komacel or similar, the biggest issue we find is the edges - the porous nature doesn't give a great surface for the paint.
 

rossmosh

Member
PVC doesn't require primer. You need to sand it down with 220 grit paper. Then paint with whatever paint you want. Gold paint is a funny paint. It's hard to find a good one. Nova Paint makes a decent few. Modern Masters has another decent one. Matthews is the best I've seen but is also the most expensive and the most toxic to spray.

For that big of a letter, you might as well go with 1" PVC but 3/4" will probably be fine.

As mentioned, the edge is funny on PVC. Sanding it down to a high grit helps but in the end, the edge will require some attention via either using a filler, primer, or just extra coats.
 

jwilde

New Member
Letters that large probably wouldn't need a glaze on the edges if you're using a primer, paint and sanding between, as my guess is the viewing distance is too great to matter. Especially, if you use a quality PVC without a ton of air pockets.

Gino is right, these are monsters that will have some serious weight to them. We do this type of work quite often for a them park and use Matthew's paint and primer. Be sure to sand, wash and prep with degreaser. And most importantly use light coats with a proper flash time between or they will wrinkle like crazy.
 
I dunno. I think I would use acrylic or aluminum. Sounds like this job is just crying out for gold anodized aluminum letters. Maybe 20% more total cost, but less handling time and much more stable. The letters I buy have a lifetime warranty to the customer. Also much sturdier and easier to handle in the field. The main advantage, though, is killer looks!
 

visual800

Member
we do alot of pvc. I prime with 2 part auto epoxy and spray with latex, never an issue. Silicone will hold just fine BUT we would drill some small studs in back for extra support. Not many maybe 4 or 5
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
we do alot of pvc. I prime with 2 part auto epoxy and spray with latex, never an issue. Silicone will hold just fine BUT we would drill some small studs in back for extra support. Not many maybe 4 or 5

Only 4 or 5 studs in a 15 sq ft 3/4" pvc letter ?? Unless they were all-thread, going through the wall and bolting with a flange on the other side, that doesn't seem kosher to me.
 

rossmosh

Member
I dunno. I think I would use acrylic or aluminum. Sounds like this job is just crying out for gold anodized aluminum letters. Maybe 20% more total cost, but less handling time and much more stable. The letters I buy have a lifetime warranty to the customer. Also much sturdier and easier to handle in the field. The main advantage, though, is killer looks!

And good gold paint looks close to gold leaf, or at least looks a lot more like it than anodized aluminum.

PVC is an under-rated material on this site. I think it's because so many people are used to ordering from Gemini that they think acrylic is the best.

The simple reality is, acrylic is a very good material but no material is generally "best". Acrylic is 2-2.5x the cost of PVC and WAY heavier. PVC you can simply thread studs in vs tapping them. It's less brittle. When painted, they will look very similar (edges being the main difference). PVC accepts paint a bit more willingly than Acrylic as well (although the difference is generally minor).

If someone walked into my shop wanting a 4ft x 5ft letter and it wasn't going to have any lit elements, I'd most likely cut it out of 1" PVC or maybe cut it out of 3/4" PVC and make a DIY channel letter with aluminum returns to give it some more depth.
 

visual800

Member
Only 4 or 5 studs in a 15 sq ft 3/4" pvc letter ?? Unless they were all-thread, going through the wall and bolting with a flange on the other side, that doesn't seem kosher to me.


. "Silicone will hold just fine BUT we would drill some small studs in back for extra support" is what i said in my reply. Silicone with the help of studs. We have had no issues with this method. and furthermore a stud does NOT have to penetrate a wall all the way thru to be any more effective in holding a material onto it
 
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