Hand lettered with 1 Shot enamel on glass. Lane Walker, Solo Signs, Reno, Nevada
“We painted the background of the sandblasted cedar panel with acrylic latex paint,” says Bob Stephens, Skywatch Signs, Zephyrhills, Florida. “The letters and the banner panel are PVC board, finished with Matthews polyurethane paints. The base is PVC board, v-carved to look like pecky cypress wood and painted in two shades of gray to enhance the effect.”
“We used Nova Color Artists’ Acrylic Paint on this,” says Peter Poanessa, Keene Signworx, Swanzey, New Hampshire. “We started with a mixture of 90% clear medium and 10% black. We painted this on then wiped it off quickly before it dried. This really gave it an aged look. Then we mixed a color to match the brick and used a block of wood with paint on it to hit the high spots. It ended up looking just like brick showing through failing paint. The background was done with masonry stain to create the darkened brick panel.”
Hand lettered with 1 Shot enamel. Lane Walker, Solo Signs, Reno, Nevada
“The ribbon is a combination of Modern Masters English Brown, Opaque Silver, Iridescent Gold and Antique Bronze,” says Gary Johnson, Great American Sign Co., Basking Ridge, New Jersey. “The coffee beans are Sculpt Nouveau Bronze C which contains a hardener that allows me to polish the surface. Then I used a darkening patina to create contrast in the center line of the bean and the background behind the bean pile. Modern Masters English Brown was used for the border and Opaque Silver for the Cafe letters.”
“I used Benjamin Moore acrylic latex paint on these signs,” says Gary Johnson, Great American Sign Co., Basking Ridge, New Jersey.,“as I do on 95% of my work.”
“I clear coat all my truck lettering,” says Lane Walker, Solo Signs, Reno, Nevada, “as well as my flat painted signs, for maximum durability. I had always clear coated gold leaf on truck doors because it was fragile, so I got the idea to do the same over my 1 Shot lettering enamel. “After trying a few clear coats, I have chosen Spies Hecker High Solids Clear, mixed 2:1 with their Warm Weather Activator. At $650 per gallon it’s pricey, but it lays down nice with a brown quill on trucks. It seems to really bring the colors alive, especially airbrush blends.”
“We use 1 Shot enamel, especially for dark colors, when we want a smooth finish—as for a main ID type of sign,” says Ken Stiffler, Sign Design Wooster, Wooster, Ohio. “The darker 1Shot colors cover in one coat and flow smooth overnight. For lighter colors like this buckskin-colored background, I’ll use PPG’s Manor Hall Gloss Acrylic. The lighter acrylic latex colors cover white factory-primed overlaid plywood well and quickly. It has a little more of an orange peel look, but if you thin it just right and temps are cool, it flows out almost as well as enamel.”

Choosing paints and finishes

Take advantage of the wide variety of options

By SignCraft.com

Posted on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

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Source list: Paints and finishes

1Shot Paints: Lettering and bulletin enamels, background finishes, specialty finishes

Akzo Nobel: Base coat/clear coat paint system and single-stage finishes

Alsa Corp.: Candy airbrush colors, Spray Chrome and specialty finishes

Axalta Coating Systems: Hot Hues, Standox, Nason, Cromax and Spies Hecker finishes

Coastal Enterprises: Primers, hard coat and texture finishes for HDU board

Createx Colors: Airbrush colors for all applications

Design Brilliance: Axalta Hot Hues urethane paints

HAR Adhesive Technologies: Jay Cooke’s All Purpose Sign Primer

House of Kolor: Urethane paints for pinstriping, plus specialty finishes and clears

Matthews Paint: Base/clear coat paint system and single component sign finishes

Modern Masters: Specialty and patina finishes

Nova Color Paints: artists’ acrylic paints for graphics and murals

Sign Arts Products Corp.: Primer for HDU board

Sign Life Products: Stains for wood signs 419-524-7446

Sculpt Nouveau: Textured and specialty finishes

Sherwin Williams Co: Base coat/clear coat paint system and single-stage finishes

T.J.Ronan Paint Corp: Lettering and bulletin enamels, waterborne and specialty finishes

Triangle Coatings: Sophisticated Finishes metallic finishes

Vivilon Coatings: Clear coating to restore faded paint and protect against graffiti
Every shop seems to develop its own systems for paints and finishes. That’s helpful because you know what performance to expect from the products you know and use. But it can also limit you if you don’t keep learning about other products and experimenting with them. Sign makers have never had more options for paints and finishes than they do today.

The enamel tradition

For decades, enamel paints were the standard of the industry. They are still preferred by many for how they handle in a brush, their adhesion qualities and their gloss. Long time industry sources 1 Shot Paint and Ronan Paints both offer solvent-based enamels for lettering, pinstriping and sign finishing. Bulletin color is designed for use on signs and billboards. Lettering enamels offer improved coverage and workability for brush lettering. Background enamels are fastdrying, high-gloss finishes for backgrounds and structures. Enamels are available as pearlescent, fluorescent and flat-finish poster colors, too.

Waterborne options

Ronan Paints’ AquaCote is a waterborne bulletin enamel that is formulated for signage. Their Aqua Ron-Glo Fluorescent Color is a waterborne interior/ exterior fluorescent paint. Their Aqua-Leaf line is a metallic-look waterborne paint for indoors or out.

Acrylic latex is easy and available

Quality acrylic latex paint is a popular choice for finishing signs and letters as well as hand lettering and wall graphics. The high-quality product lines marketed for home and exterior finishing are durable and easy to use. They’re also readily available.

Rugged polyurethane and urethane

These finishes are very durable and dry very quickly. “We spray a lot of Matthews polyurethane,” says Bob Stephens, Skywatch Signs, Zephyrhills, Florida. “We can apply three coats 15 minutes apart. In less than an hour we can have something painted and clear coated. It’s dry to touch within an hour or two and completely cured in 24 hours. You can apply vinyl or do anything else you need over it.

“I bought the satin base system then bought all the metallics. We can mix about 65,000 colors. And if we need only a half pint of paint, we can mix just that. There’s much less waste. We have a complete system and a paint booth. Maybe every shop can’t invest in all that, but it’s worth it for us.”

Urethane paints, such as Axalta’s Hot Hues, are also used for pinstriping and hand lettering. They bond aggressively to other paints, dry quickly and are very rugged.

Artist acrylics for murals

Products like Nova Color Paints see a lot of use for wall graphics and murals. They dry fast and can be recoated within a few hours. They work well in the brush, and exterior durability is good.

Specialty finishes

Sometimes a finish needs to be more than just color and protection, like when you want a finish that looks like rust or aged copper or to have a texture. You have several to choose from, and most are exterior durable. They couple well with 3D signage, adding more interest and appeal.

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