4th of May 2010 0
I recently noticed a lovely business sign in my neighborhood. It was for an antiques store located near my home, which I walk past nearly everyday. The sign’s material looked like wood, but was obviously not wood and was designed differently. Also, the sign seemed to swing in the lightest breeze which was why I looked up at it in the first place. I inquired about it to my friend and shopkeeper. He explained that it was sign foam. I knew from others that Hollywood had been using foam to create sets for years, making the foam appear to be concrete, wood, even water. I did some research and discovered how far the foam industry has gotten. Here is what I discovered and the comparisons between foam signs and cedar or redwood signs. I hope it helps you in your future artistic endeavors.
High Density Urethane foam aka. HDU, Sign Foam or Precision Board, is meeting the standards of the sign industry of today. This new product, developed as part of the space program, comes in a variety of densities and can be sawed, sanded, drilled, blasted and painted just like wood. Cedar and redwood is still the mainstay of the industry, but with natural woods becoming harder to get and more costly the industry needed to find something comparable. Over the last ten years, the standard has led to this HDU foam material which technicians are finding a superior replacement for natural woods. So let’s compare the two.
HDU Sign Foam:
Pros- Sign Foam will never crack, warp or bow like natural wood when it is exposed to the elements. It’s lighter than wood, so it saves in shipping and it can be seamlessly laminated together to create any size you may need. This lightness also helps with handling and installation. It can be sandblasted with several different patterns. Most popular being wood grain or sandstone. It is great for complex graphics where detail is involved.
Cons- It is flexible, which may cause problems if a sign is long or narrow. If this is the case it’s best to put a strong reinforcement backing on in order to ‘stiffen’ the sign and protect it from wind and pedestrians.
Warranty- Unfinished it is guaranteed for ten years, indoor or out, against warping, cracking or deterioration. It is 100% waterproof, and will never decompose.
Redwood and Cedar:
Pros- These wooden signs are solid. They won’t break under pressure, and are a more natural approach to the overall ‘look’ of your sign related to you business.
Cons- Wood expands and contracts given the changes in seasons. It needs varnish coatings to protect the wood. If the primer seal is cracked it exposes the wood to the elements and early deterioration. It’s costly and difficult to obtain. Larger signs will have to be spliced together and braced. Brittle areas are apt to snap.
Warranty- There is no warranty for nature. It should be well constructed and assembled using dowels, etc. It requires a well made marine grade epoxy, and a marine grade resin or spar. The wood should be double planked and kiln dried, this ensures against bowing.