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Need Help Reverse lit channel letters

Cody Boley

New Member
Im fairly new to the sign world and have recently taken on a job installing 16” tall by 3” thick reverse lit channel letters that are pin mounted into a coral rock wall. My question here is ive never installed something like this and i know adhesive caulking isnt going to hold the weight of the letters so what would be a good anchor to use in the rock to anchor these to the wall?


New Member
i know adhesive caulking isnt going to hold the weight of the letters
Why do you think this method will not hold the weight?
Concealed stud mounting is the commonest way to install letters, even heavy cast bronze. A 16-inch tall reverse channel is not overly heavy that a 1/4-inch aluminum stud buried in silicone cannot hold it. Obviously, a reverse channel letter that stands off the wall two inches will require studs longer than the typical three inches. I have used studs as long as six inches when needed. Studs are also available in stainless steel which are considerably stronger than aluminum.
It's possible that there may be code requirements in some areas that require something more elaborate, but I have never run into this.
I once installed some very heavy porcelain-on-steel letters that came with specialized hardware that had nuts and expansion elements. I couldn't have pulled the installed letters out if I wanted to. But that was unusual and I have never seen that hardware since.

Keep in mind you are mainly concerned about shear strength. That is, you are dealing mostly with simple gravity pulling straight down. As long as the stud does not bend from the letter's weight, the likelihood of the stud pulling out of the hole is remote. Of course, the stud must have sufficient penetration. And the silicone must fill the hole completely. So never rely on squirting the adhesive into the hole, as often the stud, upon insertion, will simply push the wad further back into the hole without being firmly gripped by it. Always coat the stud itself as liberally as necessary by inserting it into the end of the tube of adhesive and triggering the gun as you withdraw it.

I might do differently on very large reverse channel letters.
On very large reverse channel letters, such as three-foot tall letters, for example, I expect I would remove the channel faces and install the polycarbonate backer first using whatever attachment I wanted, perhaps an expansion bolt of some kind or a rust-resistant masonry screw, and then re-install the faces last. But I've never actually installed reverse channels of this size, so I would definitely ask someone experienced to help me do the job.

Brad in Kansas City



Certified Enneadecagon Designer
Ummm, obvious questions...
-- Are you licensed to install these signs?
-- If you are not, how are you getting them permitted?

How rough or smooth is the wall? Corel rock be pretty inconsistent...

Then other questions arise...
What is behind the stone and how thick is that?
Can electrical be accessed to that?
Is there enough crawlspace to access electrical to letters?
Has a dedicated circuit been allocated to the sign and has the power been brought to the area?
Emergency shut-off access at exterior of sign?

Obviously the pass thru will anchor the bulk of the weight of the letter, and other mounting will add to that as well as keeping the letters straight.

On a 'normal" flat wall installation, you would use sleeves to have a consistent distance from the wall.

On an inconsistent stone wall, you either have to cut each sleeve individually, or, if you using expansion bolts or studs with adhesive on a jerked up wall, you would use thread long enough to penetrate the rock and enough to stand off and attach to the backer, then add a bolt/washer to adjust the distance from the stone, to the back of the letter, away from the wall. You can do the letters individually, or use a rigid template that matches the letter stud pattern and keep the offset consistent...

or, hire a qualified, licensed installer...
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Cody Boley

New Member
The sign has been permitted by the construction company that built thd wall. The studs comin with the letters are 16” long. So i should be just fine if i drill deep enough and use caulking? Ive used caulking in the past but never done something of this size.


New Member
use caulking?

Yes. 100% silicone as mentioned. It remains soft, allowing the stud to float in a slightly oversized hole. This allows a little movement of the letters without releasing the grip on the studs.

16-inch studs? That's a long stud. I would think 6-inch would be sufficient, but then I don't get paid to do installs anymore. They think I'm too old.

I am not familiar with coral rock. Regular stone sometimes has a tendency to split when drilled.