Hide those fasteners for a cleaner installation

By Chris Lovelady

Posted on Friday, December 2nd, 2022

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If you don’t like the look of screw heads or other fasteners peppering a sign face, try this simple technique we often use on wall-mounted signs. Gemini pads and threaded aluminum studs provide a secure installation and add a little dimension as well.

Using a pounce pattern (a perforated paper pattern) provides for accurate stud placement on the back of this aluminum composite sign panel. It also gives us a pattern for drilling the wall when it comes time for installation.

While the stud placement is kind of random, I try to keep them in some kind of order vertically and horizontally. I do the stud layout on the paper pattern and pounce it on the back of the sign panel. Remember to flip the pattern before you pounce it on the wall when doing the installation. In other words, the pattern goes backwards on the panel and forwards on the wall. Imagining the pattern sandwiched between the wall and the sign makes this easier to understand.

This sign is made up of three separate panels—top and bottom background panels, with an arched panel bearing the primary copy. On the arched panel, I used an additional pad as a spacer on each stud to stand the panel farther off the wall. I mounted the perforated end of a small pad to the panel and then used a larger pad as a spacer that would go against the wall. I mounted the large background panels with a single pad, bonding the smaller end to the panel, with the larger, perforated end against the wall.

The smaller arched panel stands about an inch-and-a-half off the wall, while the two parts of the background panel (one above the arched panel, the other below) stand about a half-inch off of the stucco wall. The pads not only add dimension, but also give the adhesive in the hole something to stick to when you push the studs into the glue-filled holes in the wall.

I used IPS Weld-On 45 structural adhesive to fasten the studs to the sign panels. I scuffed the aluminum panel with a utility knife anywhere a pad was to be glued on so that the adhesive would have something to bite into.

Chris Lovelady’s shop, Vital Signs, is in Thomasville, Georgia.

This appeared in the May/June 2009 issue of SignCraft.

Make a paper pattern that shows the shape of the sign and the location of the studs. Here you see the pattern in place on the back of the upper background panel. I’ve perforated the locations of each stud with a pounce wheel.

Tape the pattern to the back of the panel, making sure to put the front of the pattern to the back of the panel. Tap the cloth bag of powdered chalk over the perforations to mark the stud locations.

The pad is bonded to the panel using IPS Weld-On No. 45 adhesive. Here I’ve assembled the pads and studs, and I’m ready to glue them down.

Bond the pads to the panel. This photo shows the combo pad that I used to stand the curved banner panel farther off the wall.

A single smaller pad was used on the main background panels. The smaller pad gets glued to the back of the sign panel while the larger pad attaches to the stucco wall.

Let the adhesive cure. Here you see the combo pads installed on the back of the curved banner panel.

Use the pattern to mark the wall and then drill a hole for each stud. Fill each hole with silicone adhesive, and then slide the studs on the back of the panel into the holes until the large pads touch the wall. Here all three panels have been installed to make one great-looking sign that’s roughly 80-by-96-inches.