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Substrate options for 10 foot outdoor sign

danFL

New Member
Hey all. A small church in my community has requested a painted wood sign to hang on their building. My 1st thought was MDO plywood. But the size they want is 10 foot wide x 7 foot tall. I've never done anything this big. And I'm concerned about seems/lines showing. Can anyone recommend a substrate to use? I will fabricate a back frame with steel tubing to secure it to the brick wall and brace the substrate from flexing. Any tips or ideas to get me in the right direction would be welcome. Thanks.
 

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visual800

Active Member
i would fabricate aluminum framing and use maxmetal, its going to have seams thats just going to happen. Where the seam it tape both side of the seam and put caulk on the seam rip[ the tape off! Nice clean seam! and of course make sure your frame have a brace right at the seam!
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
First of all, seems like that are rarely noticed, unless its a lousy fit. Using biscuits is always preferred in wood. The copy and focal points take your eye away from a simple seam.

However, I would probably ask some preliminary questions.
* The reason for wanting wood ??
* Why painted ??

There are quite a few substrates far superior to wood these days and speaking of that, unless it's gonna be white & black, the paints of today are like painting with snot. What you could do in one coat years ago, now takes 2 & 3 coats and still doesn't last all that long. There are vinyls which will last 8, 9 and more years before breaking down.
 

petepaz

New Member
His finished size is 7'3", not 5'
i am aware but if a customer comes to me with a larger size like that i will try to talk them in to a size we can do in one piece before i go with the seams but if not then we seam it. i do agree there are better options than wood that will last longer
 

DL Signs

Never go against the family
Do seams all the time. I'd use 60" wide ACM, run the seam vertical, right down the center with a support brace behind it. It'll be shorter than running it horizontal, couple feet less to brace, and look better. It'll outlast painted wood in that application too.
 

GraphixGirl79

New Member
Hey all. A small church in my community has requested a painted wood sign to hang on their building. My 1st thought was MDO plywood. But the size they want is 10 foot wide x 7 foot tall. I've never done anything this big. And I'm concerned about seems/lines showing. Can anyone recommend a substrate to use? I will fabricate a back frame with steel tubing to secure it to the brick wall and brace the substrate from flexing. Any tips or ideas to get me in the right direction would be welcome. Thanks.
When we have to do large signs with no seams, we use "flex face" stretched over aluminum framing. It's like canopy material, but different of course. you can put vinyl on it, or printed media. It also comes in eradicable colors.
 

JBurton

Signtologist
When we have to do large signs with no seams, we use "flex face" stretched over aluminum framing. It's like canopy material, but different of course. you can put vinyl on it, or printed media. It also comes in eradicable colors.
A much cheaper option would be a billboard face, depending on viewing distance. Considering this is likely a framed stretched face and not a lit cabinet or bleed face build, I'd see no real reason to go as far as actual flex face materials. I think our current printed billboard cost is $.59/sqft
 

danFL

New Member
Really appreciate the feedback and advice from you all. (I've been at this for a lot of years, 12,000+ signs made. But 98% of my work has been with Baltic birch plywood/painted letters. 2% HDU and Acrylic. Zero ACM experience.

To answer Gino.
* The reason for wanting wood ??
* Why painted ??
The church, and myself, are trying to avoid something that looks "commercial". My experience with painted Baltic birch provided the character and dimension that were desired. (wood grain and painted brush lines provide the character more fitting for the church)

That said, given the size of the sign, and the advice about longevity. I am leaning towards trying ACM. (White panel)

To answer Petepaz. I am reworking the design to fit 10 x 5. The sign includes their street address so it can go on a second panel at the bottom. If the church wants to keep the original dimension then I'll take Visual800/DL Signs advice and go with a single vertical seam.

A few of follow-up questions.
-- Thickness? Assume 6 mm? Not sure of attachment to the back frame. Low profile/visibility screws? Spacing of the screws?
-- Paint or Vinyl? Guessing everyone will say vinyl. Any advice on a specific best vinyl to use for longevity/exterior?
-- Hard to cut? Razor blade is the best? Have a CNC router but only 48" wide.
-- Any thoughts on giving it some dimension? Not necessary? Is this something that is ever done with ACM? Giving the sign a 3/4" to 1" thick appearance.

Thanks again for all the feedback.
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
Really appreciate the feedback and advice from you all. (I've been at this for a lot of years, 12,000+ signs made. But 98% of my work has been with Baltic birch plywood/painted letters. 2% HDU and Acrylic. Zero ACM experience.

To answer Gino.
* The reason for wanting wood ??
* Why painted ??
The church, and myself, are trying to avoid something that looks "commercial". My experience with painted Baltic birch provided the character and dimension that were desired. (wood grain and painted brush lines provide the character more fitting for the church)

That said, given the size of the sign, and the advice about longevity. I am leaning towards trying ACM. (White panel)

To answer Petepaz. I am reworking the design to fit 10 x 5. The sign includes their street address so it can go on a second panel at the bottom. If the church wants to keep the original dimension then I'll take Visual800/DL Signs advice and go with a single vertical seam.

A few of follow-up questions.
-- Thickness? Assume 6 mm? Not sure of attachment to the back frame. Low profile/visibility screws? Spacing of the screws?
-- Paint or Vinyl? Guessing everyone will say vinyl. Any advice on a specific best vinyl to use for longevity/exterior?
-- Hard to cut? Razor blade is the best? Have a CNC router but only 48" wide.
-- Any thoughts on giving it some dimension? Not necessary? Is this something that is ever done with ACM? Giving the sign a 3/4" to 1" thick appearance.

Thanks again for all the feedback.

That's different than your original questions.

When using MDO,, as you first mentioned, you won't have any grain whatsoever, except for the football patches, which will telegraph through. If you wanna use a birch wood like mentioned, you might wanna consider solid color stain, instead of paint. Also, while you can use the birch outside, it's not really an exterior product and will break down somewhat faster than other substrates meant for exterior uses.

At that size, I'd try to locate 10mm unless you make a really sturdy framework for it. I would not rout 6, or even 10mm ACM. Ya want 3D, on your router cut some 10mm ACM and fasten it to the face.
 
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