Stucco: A Good Material for Long-Lasting Entrance Signs
Back in about 1991, I was just a green small-business guy. I had recently moved to the Shenandoah Valley area 3 years earlier, and this was my first full year in my new full-time business, Tree Street Signs. One of the earliest church sign projects I tackled was constructing an entrance monument for Main Street United Methodist Church. The youth pastor at the time, John Tindall, had previously used my company to letter their church van, so I guess I had done a good job and the church called me back with a bigger project. A member had passed away and left money for a nice sign, so I recommended a low-profile concrete block sign faced with stucco and metal letters.
I used one of the best masons in the area to build the sign, Danny Davis. He did a great job as he always does! After the footer was poured and the solid, masonry sign was complete, I ordered two sets of router-cut and painted aluminum letters for each side. Using a paper mounting template and a hammer drill, I carefully drilled the holes for the aluminum studs that would hold the letters to the low walls. After dry-fitting all the lettering, I cemented them all in place with clear, architectural grade silicone, the standard adhesive for these types of sign letters. The sign had a special two-part cross and flame emblem, the established Methodist brand.
Fast-forward to 2016, and I was kneeling at that sign again. The head of the church property committee sought me out to upgrade the sign after 25 years! I recommended they reverse the letters out this time around for better visibility. You see, I had learned a few things about sign design over the years, and sometimes it’s better to use light colored letters against a dark colored background when three dimensional sign letters are raised from the surface. These types of letters cast shadows during the day, and also at night from lighting, and many times the shadows can interfere with good visibility. (See this article from Holiday Signs that tells about this phenomenon.)
I think I did a pretty good job in completely changing the looks of the sign without having to change the sign background or letter materials, just the paint colors and a backer for the emblem. Painting stucco is rather simple. After bleaching the old moldy stains, I used a quality latex satin paint on the stucco and automotive acrylic enamel on the metal letters. I pulled all the lettering off, repainted the background on site, repainted the letters in the shop, then re-mounted everything. When I was a kid, some of my more daring friends were frequently occupied with mischief. Waynesboro school kids must be either blessed with excellent manners or cursed with low IQ’s because anyone could have pulled those letters off over the course of 25 years, but nobody did until I came along again, this time under a new company name, Augusta Sign Company.
Mark Hackley is President of Augusta Signs in Waynebsoro, Virginia