View Full Version : Outdoor Signs

Phyllis Meyer
06-23-2006, 6:19 PM
Hi everyone! We are quoting for outdoor plaques, 9 @ 6x24 & 3 @ 24x36 (they are requesting silver-look with black lettering) Is brushed stainless with using Cermark the best way to go, and any ideas on pricing would be most appreciated. The 9 will just have 1 family name, the 3 will be filled with donor names.

We also have a quote for brass-look (any ideas on that material). We are in northern Wisconsin and both projects will be outside. We will be mounting these on wood. We know of course what to use for wood, but the new products for plates are very new to us. Any advice would be most appreciated! We talked with IPI, Rowmark...they were not so helpful so we are turning to the experts!! All of you!!


The Meyers

Joe Pelonio
06-23-2006, 7:57 PM
Both IPI and Rowmark make outdoor "durable" materials, but mounted on wood they will not hold up well. Here we also have vinyl films that we can apply over wood or other substrates and then apply black vinyl lettering to it. That's the cheapest way. Wilsonart, Formica, and others make solid aluminum sheet that is available in a variety of finishes including those. I don't know whether Cermark would work on a real brushed surface though, and you'd have to first engrave off the protective clear or it won't stick.

My suggestion is that you get the metal, and cut the letters from 1/16" black acrylic and glue them on. You can cut an installation template using
posterboard from the file, with lettering all set up properly, then nest the letters for cutting them out with less waste.

Kitchen supply sections of H.D. /Lowe's can probably order the metal. I have the chain of samples for Formica Deco Metals, but I get it from a supplier in Seattle through a neighboring business that gets deliveries almost daily. Brushed silver is #605, brass is #2041.



Rodne Gold
06-23-2006, 9:51 PM
There is very little in gold or silver that will withstand outdoors exposure that can be laser engraved. The ideal way to do these is to use either gold or silver anodised aluminium and chemical etch/rotary engrave and black fill. Cerdec on SS will work for the silver option.
Failing that , your only other real option is to reverse engrave clear acrylic , fill the lettering black and then overspray with a silver or gold paint which will give you "tamperproof" panels with good durability.
What works well is black acrylic , front engraved and filled with either silver or gold paint. Often when a client wants gold or silver with black engraving and then they see how good the black with gold /silver looks , they plump for that.

Keith Outten
06-23-2006, 10:47 PM

It looks to me like you have already received some real good suggestions. It's not a secret that I am a big fan of Dupont Corian for signs both interior and exterior. The colors are rich and there are plenty to choose from. Corian is really easy to paint fill after engraving with a paper mask and multiple colors are possible as well.

I have used stainless steel plate engraved with Cermark but I have to say that the price of Cermark or Thermark for that matter is a pill to swallow so I generally use paint which is plentiful, inexpensive and lots of colors available. We have done some wood signs but the higher maintenance costs are a factor that needs to be considered.

The plastic materials from IPI or Rowmark are an attractive option as they engrave well and there is a huge selection. I'm not sure about the longevity of plastics or acrylic when exposed to UV, I have heard that some signs only have a five year lifespan.

There are others here that have a lot of experience and have been in business for decades who may be able to offer more information concerning the life expectency of various materials. This is a subject that you might want to discuss with your customer.

As soon as you have selected the materials you plan to use I am sure you will get plenty of help determing a fair price for your work.


Thomas Hempleman
06-27-2006, 3:53 AM
I've tried to score scraps of Corian from counter top dealers but the pieces are usually small and I have to take the colors that are available at the time. Where can those of us who aren't authorized by DuPont find a good selection of Corian in various colors and sizes? I like using it for signs but my customers' desires for colors and larger sizes makes scraps impractical. Are there Corian dealers where we can buy the color and size Corian we need for a project? How do you become authorized by DuPont?

Joe Pelonio
06-27-2006, 5:05 PM
I've had the same problem. Even my neighboring business that is a kitchen remodeler says it's too much trouble for them to save me the scraps. At the very least there's the hole where the sink goes in every job, but it's easier for them to throw it away.

I'm going to post a "wanted" on freecycle and see if anyone responds. Also, there are sometimes pieces available on e-bay.

Forgot about Craig's List: http://portland.craigslist.org/for/174958266.html

I did find one place that sells to the hobby industry, but have not had a chance to try them yet. Go ahead and be the guinea pig if you want and let us know how it goes. They have 1/4" which most places don't. Seems really expensive though.


Jim A. Walters
06-27-2006, 5:33 PM
Contact Keith Outten, one of the Admin's of this site. He has a good selection and will sell Corian for a reasonable price.

Keith Outten
06-27-2006, 7:09 PM
I've tried to score scraps of Corian from counter top dealers but the pieces are usually small and I have to take the colors that are available at the time. Where can those of us who aren't authorized by DuPont find a good selection of Corian in various colors and sizes? I like using it for signs but my customers' desires for colors and larger sizes makes scraps impractical. Are there Corian dealers where we can buy the color and size Corian we need for a project? How do you become authorized by DuPont?


I started using Corian sink cutouts as well and quickly found the need for larger pieces based on customer demand. I contacted Dupont and asked how I could get my company certified to purchase full sheets. It took a letter and about two weeks time but I was given authorization. My local Corian Distributor contacted me and provided a free Corian swatch and all the details . The wholesale price is more attractive on full sheets but Corian isn't an inexpensive material. Don't sweat the price too much the profit margin is much higher than other materials.

Today a Dupont representative from Atlanta Georgia visited me and we discussed the issue of other engravers/sign makers getting certified. Basically Dupont wants to expand their sales to our businesses and I think if you contact them you will find that they are friendly and helpfull. I would be glad to make a phone call to see if I can locate a name and phone number for you to contact. Remember that if you elect not to take their installers training, even though you will be allowed to purchase their product you will not be certified to install counter tops.



I would be glad to provide Corian plaques if you can't find a local source. I have a thread in the Northwind Forum here that lists the Corian colors I have in stock. I can't sell you full sheets nor would you want to pay the shipping for a 30" by 145" by 1/2" thick sheet from my shop to yours :)

Contact me if I can be of service.


Joe Pelonio
06-27-2006, 7:14 PM
Thanks Keith. I have a new customer at an animal rescue facility that has need for a few memorials and more in the future. They are in the process of deciding between Corian, Marble, and Granite, so I may be in touch with you.

Mike Shauer
06-27-2006, 7:15 PM
Kieth, I would also like the contact name for Dupont. The source I had has dried up and I would like to do some more. Cheers, Mike

Ken Salisbury
06-28-2006, 9:21 AM
Corian is an excellent material for outdoor signs (or indoor for that matter). Here is one made by my good friend Keith Outten for my shop. Zero deterioration from the elements after a couple years.

Thomas Hempleman
06-30-2006, 4:11 AM
Thanks, Keith. I'll talk to DuPont. Maybe if some of us bug them enough, they'll realize there is a market for Corian sign material.

Keith Outten
06-30-2006, 5:49 AM

Your sign is still looks as good as the day it left my shop. The no maintenance aspect of Corian signs is really attractive and is often a deal closer. I am working on a Corian sign right now that is dye-sublimated...lots of color. I also have a large exterior sign to make for a local Solid Surface Fabricator that will be made from multiple colors of Corian that should be a great project.

I can't imagine any product that is better suited for exterior service than Corian.


Phil Phelps
07-04-2006, 5:39 PM
...because you are limited to materials that will last. Aluminum, acrylic, fiberglass, and stone are the best. The Wilsonart product is fine, but it is aluminum. Since I don't know what your specs are for the signs, I can only direct you on the substraights avaliable from sign supplies and laminate suppliers. As I said, these metals are anodized aluminum, and hold up fairly well in the outdoors. Look up Chem-metal and see who distributes it in your area. I use the brushed gold and brushed satin aluminum quite often. If these letters are 3-D, you have mounting problems. You could use vinyl for the lettering. You could have the metal pierced for the copy and mount it to a black panel. The wood is also not a good idea for lasting qualities. You may want to sub out this project.

Joe Pelonio
07-05-2006, 5:12 PM
Just thought I'd mention that I got a hit on the corian scraps on
Freecycle. I'm picking up scraps Saturday from a lady that had her kitchen done and the contractor left the extras. Most areas have a freecycle website now, it's also handy for getting rid of old things that are not
worth selling on e-bay or having a garage sale.


AL Ursich
08-31-2007, 9:40 PM

Can you do a follow up on the Dye-Sublimated sign. Interested in finding out how you did it and how it looked and lasted.



Keith Outten
08-31-2007, 11:08 PM

Are you asking about the Corian disk I dye-sublimated the picture of Christopher Newport?

If so I submitted my sample and it was approved for me to build one exterior building sign as a sample panel. I haven't strated this one yet, the boss has me working on the four cherry oval signs for the Student Union which are the highest priority on my schedule right now. I will most likely finish the cherry ovals and be able to install them this Tuesday or Wednesday. I will have two more smaller cherry ovals to make before I either start the Library signs or build the first building sign whichever one the powers that be decide is the next priority.

I am taking pictures of every project along the way and will make sure to post lots of pictures as each project progresses.



Brian Robison
09-05-2007, 11:43 AM
I just wanted to chime in here with my experience on the brushed stainless IPI plastic. I did a sample about 3 years ago and I've had it stuck on my enclosed trailer, in the harsh Tn weather for about 3 years now. I did this as a test for license plates. So far everything still looks good however IPI and Rowmark both have this type of material listed for indoor use only.