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Atlanta Signs – A Primer on HDU Sandblasted Signage

The art of producing sandblasted signs dates back some 50 years or more, and although the materials and the process of producing them has undergone many changes over that time, they are still in high demand and use today as primary business signage. This post will explore three basics related to sandblasted signs: What are they, how are they used, and what should I know when buying one?

What are sandblasted signs?

Sandblasting refers to a physical process of eradicating part of a sign material with a high pressure jet of sand, in order to have some part of the sign stand out as either a reveal or recess.

In essence, a rubber mask is applied to the surface of the material. The parts of the mask that you want to blast out of the material are removed, exposing the substrate. Then a high-powered jet of sand is directed at the sign through a wand to eradicate the exposed areas of the sign to a specified depth. The areas that are left are usually the text or graphics, and a dimensional look is created, which can be painted in multiple colors to give the sign appearance real depth.

The materials have changed over time. Years ago, only real wood was used, specifically hard wood such as redwood cedar. But as those resources became scarcer (redwood cedar takes decades to grow to maturity), synthetic materials were created to fill the demand in the form of HDU, or high density urethane. Probably 90% of sandblasted sign curently being produced are made of HDU material.

Usually you only need to clean memorial metal plaques made of bronze once a year to maintain their good looks and prevent the green patina from forming.

What should I know when purchasing a sandblasted sign?

There are several factors you should know before you start the process.

1. Good signs are not cheap. HDU is a relatively expensive material, and redwood cedar even more so. So expect the pricing to likely be a little higher than you might expect. There is also considerable labor involved in the process, much more so than most other substrate-based signage.

2. Expect the process to take a little time, usually a couple of weeks or so. As the old toy repairman says in Toy Story 2, “You can’t rush art.” If you need it in a hurry, don’t. Take a deep breath and wait for a sign that is worth the wait, one that will last a long, long time.

3. Plan accordingly to display the sign. The HDU and cedar materials are very heavy and dense, and a large sign needs to have good support, possibly even including back bracing or other reinforcements. This is an investment, so take measures to properly install and protect your investment.

4. A sandblasted sign will virtually last forever. Every several years you may have to simply repaint the sign, and it will be as good as new. For a sign that is expected to last a long time, there are few options that compare.

Here at Apex Signs & Graphics, we offer sandblasted HDU and cedar signs, and are more than happy to discuss your sign project with you at any time.

Give us a call today at 678-795-0775 to get started!

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