“Cuckoo Chalet is 20-lb. HDU, hand carved, a couple coats of Dura Build primer, lightly sanded with a Scotchbrite pad, base painted in Matthews,” says John Ralph, Quail Run Signs, Hamilton, Virginia, ”and then glazed/distressed with 1-Shot with 4007 hardener added (which we always do). The letters are acrylic, painted with Matthews paint.”
“When we go the whole nine yards for a perfect finish, we prime with FSC-88, sand, then Dura Build primer, scuff and finish with Matthews paint,” says John Ralph, Quail Run Signs, Hamilton, Virginia. “It really achieves an amazing finish.”

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How others finish HDU board

By SignCraft Magazine

Posted on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

We use two coats of primer and three coats of finish. We love Old Village acrylic latex paints. The colors have the look of old New England with a satin latex and they hold up extremely well.

For gloss finishes, we use Interlux, Petit or Epithanes marine yacht finishes. They have a polyurethane base, are very glossy and lay down nicely.

— Chuck Dorr, Dorr Woodcarving & Sign Co., Rockport, Maine

I finish my sandblasted HDU signs with premium quality flat exterior acrylic latex paint. The entire sign is sprayed with three to four heavy coats, then the raised graphics are finished with a 3-in. roller.

— Clint Gerber, Baller Signs, Bluffton, Indiana

After years of trial and error, we came up with a system that works for us. We only use the green 15-lb. Corafoam HDU and spray two coats of Pittsburgh Paints Killstain WB primer, allowing it to dry between coats. Of course, we sand between coats.

Then we finish it with whatever material we need for that particular project. Usually it is the highest quality acrylics, like Benjamin Moore Aura. It’s expensive paint, but worth every dime.

— Jim Lago, Healdsburg Signs Inc., Healdsburg, California

We use the Manor Hall Acrylic Latex line from Pittsburgh Paints in the eggshell finish, and their SealGrip acrylic Universal Sealer Primer. With the new SignFoam4 we find that two prime coats, followed by a light sanding and two finish coats provide a nice finish that lasts for years.

All of the paint coats are sprayed on with a HVLP spray unit. We do all of the artistic paintings, usually on carvings, with the same Pittsburgh Paint. I find that with the primaries, a process blue, bright red, bright yellow, black and white, I can hit almost any color I need. Occasionally we may need to add an artist’s acrylic pigment but not usually. Most of the painted lettering and outlines are done with a gloss version of the Pittsburgh’s Manor Hall Acrylic Latex.

We do quite a bit of gold leaf work and using latex paint on the backgrounds created some issues that we had to work out. The old painter’s adage is that you can put latex paint over oil-based paint, but not oil over latex. Latex is flexible and oil is not. This creates a problem when doing gold leaf or using 1-Shot lettering enamel over the latex backgrounds.

So I use TiCote, which is an enamel receptive coating that allows you to use oil-based paints on flexible surfaces such as vinyl banners, leather and, as I’ve found, latex paint. We brush a coat on any surface that we will be oil sizing and gilding or painting with oil-based enamels.

I am very happy with this system. It is more environmentally friendly, easy to do last-minute touch-ups and the finishes hold up really well. I have signs that have been out in the New England climate that still look great 15 years later.

— David Hassan, Hassan Woodcarving & Sign Company, Cohasset, Massachusetts

On HDU signs, I often use two or more coats of flat acrylic latex paint on the background, then two coats of Ronan Aquacote for the raised graphics. It has a glossier finish, and I like that contrast. I like their metallics, too.

For a super smooth finish on HDU board on a sign that will be seen up close, I often spray the foam with polyester resin. I mix the two-part resin 1-to-1 then thin with lacquer thinner to spraying consistency. I spray it on, then pull over all the flat surfaces with a foam brush to eliminate the dimples. You can also use epoxy, like the West System epoxies, for this. [See the complete step-by-step article on this project on What’s It Cost to Produce This Sandblasted Sign?]

— Dayna Reed, Sign Art Signs, Hood River, Oregon. (Dayna’s two DVDs, 3D Signs Made Easy and More Super Cool 3D Signs, are available at SignCraft.com.)

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