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Question PVC or Aluminum sign blank and how to prime

Discussion in 'Hand Made Signs' started by Jhmarie, Jun 30, 2018.

  1. Jhmarie

    Jhmarie New Member

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    I am a novice and have made a few signs on wood for a local non-profit and friends. My signs feature a certain amount of decorative art combined with the lettering and in the past have been done on wood. I have primed the wood on all sides, top coated with a latex paint and hand painted the artwork and lettering with acrylic paints. If going outside, I use a spar marine varnish.

    I have a friend who wants me to make a sign for her small business. She would like a 33" x 22" oval that will be a hanging sign - so I will be painting both sides. I have found both a pvc oval sign blank and an aluminum powder coated sign blank of the right size and similar pricing. Two questions: Which would be best - PVC or aluminum? The PVC comes in a 1/4" and 1/2" thickness sizes.
    Second question - how are either of these primed? I need to create a surface that will take the latex and acrylic paints and be durable.

    Thank you very much for any help.
     
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  2. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    PVC is generally not good for outdoor signs, unless it has been made specifically for that.
     
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  3. Jhmarie

    Jhmarie New Member

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    The pvc sign blank is sold by the company (Hooks and Lattice) that does specifically show it being used in an outdoor application, but your point will lean me towards the aluminum.
     
  4. letterman7

    letterman7 Very Active Member

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    Depends on the look that she wants. Personally, I'd use 1" pvc and give the edges a nice routed finish. PVC is used in exterior house trim and will take a latex paint with little prep outside of a light sanding and cleaning (lacquer thinner works well). The issue with thinner pvc is it will warp if not supported correctly. With yours being double sided you shouldn't have too much of an issue with that, if any, if you use a thicker material. Alternately, you could sandwich a piece of .080 between the pvc and take that warping out of the equation altogether. You'll find the exterior "good" pvc at most privately owned contractor supply houses. Lowes/Home Depot don't usually carry it.
     
  5. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    Hooks & Lattice is a very reputable supplier, so I would trust them to use the correct PVC for an exterior sign. And I would use at least 1/2" thick
     
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  6. Jhmarie

    Jhmarie New Member

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    Thank you all! I would really like to do the thicker pcv with the routed edges. That would set off the artwork wonderfully, but I am not sure if my friend wants to go that high on cost. What started out as a simple sign is morphing into an expensive project - in part because we both love the oval sign blanks and elegant post featured on the Hooks and Lattice site.

    I will pass on the info to my customer and she will make the final decision - though I will recommend at least 1/2" if she goes with the PVC. I have been researching painting on powder coated aluminum this weekend and not finding clear info.
     
  7. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    At 22" x 33" double sided, I would not go any thinner than 3/4" to prevent warping. An oval sign can only hang, so you have no areas to keep the sign rigid. Unless you have a well secured arm coming out and drill straight down through the sign, it'll probably be dangling from a chain. Using a good grade latex paint which I think is called Creative...... you can spray with Fusion rattle cans. However, most paint doesn't last more than a few years on PVC. What kinda paint are you using for your part of the sign ??
     
  8. Jhmarie

    Jhmarie New Member

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    Gino - thanks - exactly the kind of info I need. On past wood signs, I used 2 coats of Zinsser 123 latex primer, a latex base coat on top of that in the color I want for the background and acrylics (occassional use of a Sharpie) for the art and lettering. Then I put on a protective finish coat - type depending on where the sign will be placed. This is an example - this was for indoors:
    DSCN1785.JPG
    If I can get a good primer bond to the sign blank, the paints on top of the primer should be fine as long as compatible to the primer.
     
  9. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Ahhhh Jh, that's not how the paint world works.

    Prime is something needed to bond 100% to the substrate and give tooth at the same time. You'll most likely hafta sand the PVC before priming and make sure you get rid of all the dust. Using a tack cloth helps in between all stages. Once the prime is dry, you can put a first top coat on and be sure all of these coats are very thin and not at all thick. When the first top coat goes on and dries, you should sand with maybe 600 grit sandpaper and tack again and then paint again. This coat should be done slowly to prevent bubbles from forming. Once that is dry, you can use your techniques of getting pictures and words on there. No sharpies should be used in any step of your sign making of this project. I rarely use latex paints, but was always told not to clearcoat latex. Things could've progressed there, but you'll hafta find that out from someone lettering with it and not spraying with it.

    I would also recommend getting a Letraset or some other calligraphy book and perhaps trace your letters onto your panel.

    Good Luck.​
     
  10. Jhmarie

    Jhmarie New Member

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    Thank you:)

    I do know the primer has to bond to the substrate and also to what is painted on it - the whole reason to prime - and it all has to be compatible. Thank you for the tips for priming pvc and painting. You are correct that exterior latex paint needs no clear coat - as has been said, we don't clear coat houses:) However the acrylics used in the design are not exterior grade and do need to be protected both from weather and UV. House paint is too thin to use in place of the acrylics. It is not incompatible to clear coat latex - I've done it many times. Thank you for the tip on the Letraset. I presently just use Word Art to get the lettering on my computer and transfer that to the board.


    Your advice is greatly appreciated.
     
  11. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    One last thing...... if you are not using exterior type paint for your graphics portion, you should not use it at all. Regardless of what you have in stock or are used to, you should not use the wrong components to do a job. No matter how much clearcoating you do to your graphics, you are doing an injustice to your customer, unless it's your sister or Uncle. The clear will not really protect it for more than a few weeks or months depending upon where you are located and what direction the sign is facing. Non-exterior products are really meant for non-use outside, even with some protective ingredients added in.

    Try looking into ronan or 1shot.​
     
  12. Jhmarie

    Jhmarie New Member

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    Thank you - I will look into those products. Fading is something I want to watch out for and learn more about. The original two exterior signs - which I did for free - still look fine. One is 2 years old but on a covered porch. The other is right on the street and in the sun and the full force of Iowa weather and in the sun a good part of the day. I pass it frequently - it is a year old and looks good - used a spar marine varnish which dulled the colors - I knew that would happen, but best protection I could find.(pics below) I told the person I made them for I was not a pro and would replace them if they did not hold up. I stopped by and looked at it today - a small chip in the finish, possibly due to last week's hail storm or when the little pantry was vandalized a few months ago. As I learn more, I will be able to replace with better if needed.

    New:
    DSCN1502.JPG
    Almost a year later - pic shows some fading of the roses - not sure if that is the lighting as I did not notice it at the time, just in the pic. I did not spend a lot of $ on it because of the possibility of vandalism in the area.

    DSCN1786.JPG

    The sign I am working on now is for a friend - and I have said I will replace if it fails - and I am hardly charging her anything to paint it. It will be outside, but in almost full time shade. I know they seem "homemade" to a professional, but it is the look both places were going for:)

    Again, I much appreciate the help.
     

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  13. rossmosh

    rossmosh Active Member

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    1. PVC does not need to be primed. Sand with 220 or 320 grit sand paper and then lay a coat of paint. First coat is best to dry at least 24 hours. The second coat should dry 2x the recommended time. The reason is simple. Wood is porous which allows paint to dry faster. It will suck the "water" out of the paint. PVC won't. It needs more of a dry time.

    2. Standard clear coats are generally controversial as latex paints last quite a while in their natural state. By adding a clear coat, you're adding another element. Clear coats also often don't last nearly as long as the paints so they will fail first leaving you unattractive finish. Automotive/Matthews paint is one thing. Latex is another. Go without the clear coat. It's not worth the risk. Also if you're looking to paint like that look into Nova Color paints. They are a popular paint for exterior use. The Wall Dogs use them quite a bit now. Otherwise you can also look into Ronan paints.
     
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  14. Marlene

    Marlene Major Contributor

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    I normally wouldn't use PVC outdoors but I do have that oval sign blank from Hooks & Lattice that I made for a customer years ago that still is out there and looks good. They use a thick material so you should be OK. As far as primer, I didn't paint mine, I applied vinyl so no help there.
     
  15. Jean Shimp

    Jean Shimp Member

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    As far as I know there is NO paint that will stick to new powder coated materials. As for PVC, we use it all the time outdoors and paint with latex 100% acrylic paint. No primer. Scuff surface prior to painting.
     
  16. Jhmarie

    Jhmarie New Member

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    Jun 30, 2018
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    Thank you all for you helpful replies!

    We decided to go with a 3/4 " thick PVC rectangle which was much less expensive and see how it works out. I ordered it Monday and it should be here by the end of the week. I've also received some good advice from others who do hand painted signs about fade resistant paints, and I will also look into suggestions made here. Decorative painting requires a certain paint consistency and I've discovered the brand I use does have paints for exterior use, though in limited colors, and others that do similar signs have had good results with the general use paints also. I think I will use the exterior paints for the reds and pinks as those seem the most prone to fading.
     
  17. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    we use tons of pvc and I prime with 2 part auto epoxy....I know others choose not to prime and thats fine but I feel better priming it. we only use BEHR exterior satin latex on our pvc. Dont go wasting hundreds of dollars on nova paints when all you need is a damn good latex like BEHR and make sure the pvc you are getting is rated for exterior. Vinyl lettering adheres great to sprayed latex

    all of our aluminum is ordered painted so we dont have to start from bare aluminum
     
  18. Jhmarie

    Jhmarie New Member

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    Jun 30, 2018
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    Thank you. I did order an exterior grade PVC with a fifteen year warranty. The sign will be in a rural area - and in a shady spot. I feel the chances of some weather event damaging the sign are greater than failure of the PVC or paints. My area can get some violent storms with hail, broken tree limbs, and there are also falling walnuts and deer - wonder if they like to munch on signs:) I can easily repaint the sign if such an act of nature occurs. Coming up with the design is the more time consuming process - and that is done.
     
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