The Importance of a Sign’s Materials
In order for a sign to work well —and ultimately be a good fit for a company— the materials that make up the sign must be carefully considered. With so many options, it can be hard to know where to start, and even feel overwhelming for a first-timer. Our goal at Lawrence Sign Up is to lessen the burden of going through a vast catalog of materials, and make the sign design process an enjoyable one.
What to Consider When Choosing Materials
As mentioned earlier, a sign needs to either complement the existing structure or match surrounding elements. The limestone building has a very rustic exterior. We decided to complement the architecture with a rustic sign. Traditional sign making materials for illuminated signs (brushed aluminum, and lexan with vinyl overlay) were quickly ruled out. We honed in on two materials in particular, reclaimed wood and CORTEN Steel. We had previously worked with wooden planks on an illuminated sign at Ramen Bowls in downtown Lawrence. Although the planks were new rather than reclaimed, we were thrilled with the final product. During our initial conversation about the sign’s potential, Dustin and Travis reacted favorably to using both reclaimed wood and CORTEN Steel.
There are a few drawbacks to using CORTEN Steel. The cost is high, the material will stain the wall when it rains, and it is extremely heavy. All of these are major drawbacks when installing signage on walls. Fortunately, we were aware of an alternative faux rust finish paint for aluminum which mimics the look of CORTEN Steel. We previously designed a similar sign for Arterra Event Gallery’s exterior sign in west Lawrence. To achieve the appearance of rusted and weathered CORTEN Steel we used an active patina paint finish and absolutely loved the final outcome. The product allows for the look of steel without all of the disadvantages.
This photo shows a rusted steel sign with a faux finish paint that gives it the look of CORTEN steel. The upside is that the faux rust does not bleed and cause staining like a natural rust would.
Mixing Materials to Provide Contrast
The next step in the process is creating mock-ups of some potential winners. We presented Larken with two mockups and renderings; one being the faux rusted finish with push-through lettering, and the other being reclaimed wood with illuminated lettering. Ultimately, the rusted rendering won over the reclaimed wood. The look of the CORTEN steel pairs well with the limestone and would achieve the goal of complementing the building.
The overall design of the sign would include push through lettering that would be white LED illuminated. This provides better readability at night and also looks great during the day. The white adds contrast between the rust color of the sign structure, and adds that touch of modern making this sign really stand out. In an area with such high amounts of vehicle traffic, the most important part of this sign was readability. Thankfully, Larken already had a great logotype that lent itself well to being on a sign.
The overall design of the sign would include push through lettering that would be white LED illuminated. This provides better readability at night and also looks great during the day
What’s the Next Step?
After careful review and going through the proofing process, Larken approved designs and it was now time to start fabrication. In the sign industry everything is very customized to individual needs, which meant there would be a 3-4 week turnaround time.