Now and again a signage job comes along that’s a little bit out of the ordinary, and the recent work we’ve done for Gymophobics / Bodyteam in Harrogate is certainly no exception.
Previously an unused small building at the back of the Gymophobics premises, it was renovated inside and set up ready to be used by Bodyteam, a complimentary health and beauty company. Inside was all set up with fixtures and fittings and had in fact already started taking on clients, but the exterior was still needing work.
The unit is essentially a large double garage with wooden garage doors that had already been blocked up from the inside. The door was functional, but was due to be replaced with a new, more attractive unit.
So what to do with the wooden garage doors? To keep costs down, bricking them up was discarded as an option, and instead a clever disguise was required. The lower part of the doors was to have a printed panel added, to give the impression of brickwork, and this part was fitted first…
So, as you can see, only the lower part of the doors was given the brick effect. The top part was to feature something completely different entirely… A wooden frame was added to the black doors to give us something to build onto.
So the big reveal! What could we possibly print and apply to the frontage of the building? Well, a photo of the inside of course! Ad Bell visited the site and took a series of interior shots design to replicate the view that you would see through a window. After much deliberation, a winner was picked as you can see.
Once installed, a UPVC style trim was added to the panel to further reinforce the impression of a window unit. A slim fascia panel above the window, and complimentary frosted door graphics finish the job off nicely.
When the great cheese and wine shop Love Cheese from York approached AD Bell for a sign that was quality, bespoke and a true stand-out, we knew we had an opportunity to produce something really beautiful. The sign was to go on the brickwork above the frontage of their shop, and needed to offer a classy and attractive appearance, as befitting a shop of this type. York is also a very beautiful place, and we really had to keep this in mind when designing the sign.
Love Cheese had the basic specification for the text that was to appear on the sign panel, as well as the type of paint they wanted us to use to match their shopfront – Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue. In this case, it was the gloss exterior variety, for wood and metal. They also had a “cheese knife & corkscrew” motif that they really liked.
Well, as with anything like this, it all starts with a design. No wood or steel is cut until the drawings are done and approved with the client.
The drawing are always done at 100% scale, and in this case we had to work to the 450mm x 740mm panel size that is known to be acceptable as regards planning permission. The sign consists of a wooden panel with architrave edging and a steel edging strip fixed to the top edge to allow fixing to the top bar. The metal bracket featured a beefy 500mm x 250mm x 5mm wall mounting plate with 6 large bolts, a 40mm steel box section top bar, and smaller welded sections to make up the swinging mechanism. The corkscrew and cheese knife logo was to be cut from 3mm plate steel and fixed to the top of the sign. Once all completed, the panel would be painted in Oval Room Blue and the graphics applied, and the steel work would be given several coats of black Hammerite. With the drawings done, and approved by the client, it was time to make the drawing a reality.
The sign panel was made from a piece of 18mm exterior plywood. This was accurately cut to 450mm x 750mm using a wall saw to ensure accuracy of size and squareness of corners. The architrave was then measured and cut to fit using a mitre saw. The architrave was measured so that it would be slightly larger than the ply board, to allow it to be sanded back flush before painting.
Once all of the pieces of architrave were glued and dried, the edges were sanded back flush and any sharp edges were removed. Any small gaps were then filled and the whole sign was given two coats of primer before being rubbed back and given one final coat of primer. The sign was now ready for the Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue. Now onto the steelwork!
As per the drawing, the steel was all now cut to length ready for fabrication. Once cut, the steel is cleaned with acetone to remove any grease, and then all of the edges and surfaces to be welded are ground back to bright clean metal. This allows for a smooth, clean and strong weld and is especially important when TIG welding, which is a strong and neat welding method but does require clean metal to work best.
The steel is held in position with magnet clamps ready for welding. As steel saws rarely cut perfectly square, final adjustments are made with a t-square and a tap of a hammer to get everything lined up perfectly. Once it’s all in position, the welds are put in place. On this piece (the part that holds the wooden panel) the welds are made on both the inside and outside faces. This is for extra strength and is required here as the welds will be ground back for neatness.
Once the welds were made, an angle grinder with flap disc attachment was then used to smooth out the welds. On the inside edge (shown above) this meant that the bracket would sit flush with the panel, as any weld left in the corned would bind on the edges of the wooden panel. The outside edge was ground smooth for a nice appearance. The mounting holes were then measure up, drilled and countersunk. This would make the screws easy to hide once the bracket was fixed to the woodwork later on.
Next up was the welding of the top supporting bar, wall mounting plate and swing mounts. it was very important that the swing mounts on the top bar mated up perfectly with the single swing mounts on the sign “cradle”. Lots of measuring and double checking here, and in the end they were absolutely perfect. This means that the sign will hang square and not bind on the mountings.
As you can see, the CNC cut metal logo has also been welded to the top bar. This meant grinding two flat spots on the logo to allow greater surface area for the welds. The weld between the main supporting bar and the back plate is especially important as it needs to be really strong. The two pieces of metal (5mm plate and 40mm box with 2.5mm wall) were both very strong individually, but a good bond between them was essential. The bar was chamfered heavily where it was to be welded to allow greater area for the weld to do its work, and of course, the metal was cleaned thoroughly beforehand to prevent any dirt or inclusions in the weld. Once this was all welded up, the sign was essentially complete and the whole unit was put together to test that all measurements had been correct before painting. Everything lined up perfectly, so now we were onto the painting.
Black Hammerite was used on the metal and I have to say, there is a reason why this paint is so well known. It sticks and covers fabulously well and offers a level of rust prevention that is hard to beat. it also dries quickly and is not hard to clean up if there are any drips or spills. Overall, the metalwork had three thick coats of paint, and even the back of the backplate was painted. At this point I made a decision regarding the open end of the top supporting bar. It is possible to put a plastic end cap on this type of steel box section, but there is some evidence that this can trap water inside and cause rust. My favoured method is to liberally apply oil to the inside of the box section to prevent rust. A piece of oiled rag is then pushed a few inches down into the tube. This holds the oil inside to prevent drips, and allows any water in the atmosphere to escape. That said, the steel used was hot formed, which means that it has a coating of black mill scale which resists rusting anyway.
The sign sections are held together on two large bolts. Stainless steel was chosen for this application as it is very hard and resists corrosion. The bolts were carefully chosen so that the weight of the sign was supported by an unthreaded section of the bolt – the thread did not start until the bolt was clear of the metalwork. Two washers added to the security and prevented the bolt faces from scraping on the metal. The bolts were too long, so we cut them down to size once the signs were fitted together. At this stage, the metalwork was complete. Now onto the painting of the wood!
In total, the sign had three coats of white primer and around five coats of the Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue. This ensured a lovely thick build, and the maximum amount of weather durability for the sign, going forwards. The paint is expensive, but is very high quality and goes on really well. Once complete, it was time to fix the eye bolts and the top fixing bracket.
The top bracket was fixed in place with long screws into pre-drilled holes. The screw tops were painted black after they were in place so they were not as visible. The bottom eye bolts were drilled and inserted, and the blue paint around them was touched in for neatness of finish. The two parts of the sign were now almost complete. The graphics were applied to the board and the fitters were sent on their way. The six holes were drilled into the brickwork and the bracket bolted in place. The stainless bolts were then lubricated and slotted in to hold the swing panel in position, and the Nylock nuts were finally torqued into place. Done!
Ad Bell were recently tasked with supplying and fitting signage and window graphics at the brand new Westrow salon in Skipton. The premises had been fully refurbished inside and out, along with a newly built-out fascia panel, and just needed the new signage and graphics to be 100% complete.
The main part of the signage was three large aluminium sign trays, two of which were to feature high quality stainless steel built up lettering. The trays were first covered in a colour matched matt vinyl before having the individual letters bolted into position and a framework added to the back of each tray, ready to be fitted into position.
The top sections of all of the windows were also flooded with colour matched matt vinyl, with several of them having white lettering as part of the print. The glass in the entrance vestibule featured frost effect vinyl, with the “W” logo added over the top, and a printed “frame” style design.
As with all jobs of this nature, accurate site surveying is essential to make sure that everything fits accurately. The sign trays had to fit within the wooden architrave that was used to frame the fascia panels, and of course, the window graphics have to fit perfectly too. As you can see from the pictures, everything fit just perfectly, and we couldn’t be more happy with the way that it turned out.
So you’ve bought or rented a shop to start a business, or you’ve relocated from somewhere else. At some point, probably before you can open, you’re going to need new signage for your shop. Signage like this isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. These days, you can’t have business premises of ANY type without some form of signage. Shop signs range from the purely functional and cost effective solution to something that’s really attractive and designed to pull in more customers, there are many ways to produce shop signage that’s right for you.
Shop Signs – Types & Budgets
Temporary Shop Signs
If you have a popup shop, or only expect to be in situ for a short amount of time, you’ll more than likely need a very inexpensive signage solution that will last a few months. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you sticking some sheets of printed A4 paper in the window with your message on, but assuming you would like something a bit more attractive than that, there is one product that stands out above all the rest.
PVC banners can be very useful in this role. They can be made to any size and are relatively inexpensive to produce. They are fixed into position using the provided hems and eyelets and can be put almost anywhere. They can go over the top of existing signs or even be suspended over a gap where there is no solid wall behind. PVC banners, when printed onto quality material using good printing machines are attractive and long lasting, so if you find yourself in your premises longer than was expected, it’s likely that the banner will be useful for some time. In fact, if PVC banners are fitted securely they can easily last more than a couple of years.
Permanent – Low Budget Shop Signs
Shop signs don’t have to be expensive if your budget is tight. If a client gives us an idea of what they would like to spend this enables us to work towards a solution that is going to be on budget, and saves wasting time with suggestions that are going to be too expensive. A simple printed aluminium composite panel sign can look very attractive, as well as being cost effective. If your building has frontal lighting you don’t even need your new sign to be lit – you can take advantage of the signage that’s already there.
We produce these ACM (aluminium composite material) signs using a product called DiBond – basically the best quality ACM panel that you can buy. It stays flat once fixed into place and doesn’t ripple when heated by the sun. We add the printed graphics using 3M IJ40 vinyl – a quality polymeric calendared digital vinyl that lasts. Of course, it goes without saying that this type of sign is fully weather resistant.
Your ACM panel sign (typically on the fascia of your premises) is fixed in place using screws and plugs if going straight into brick or stonework, and other types of fixings are used if the panel is going over an existing sign or feature. ACM panels of this nature can be expected to last in excess of five years and are easy to clean and maintain as required.
Permanent – Medium Budget Shop Signs
If you want to spend a little more on a sign it’s possible to achieve something a little more sophisticated than a flat panel. Still using ACM (aluminium composite material), tray signs are very popular for shop fascia signs. These are made in a similar way to regular flat panel signs, but the edges of the aluminium panel are folded back at 90 degrees to make a “tray”. When mounted to the wall this gives the sign an apparent thickness – usually around 50mm. This thickness makes the sign look much more chunky and attractive, and also means that the unit can contain lighting, but more on that later.
Tray signs are very popular with businesses of all types, and they are just as easy to fit as a regular flat panel. They are installed by firstly fixing two horizontal lengths of aluminium angle to the fascia, and then the tray sign is slotted over the top. The tray is fixed to the angle on the top and bottom tray “folds”, so no fixings are seen on the front of the sign.
A medium budget may also allow for cut out lettering style signage, where individual letters are cut from sheet material and then fixed onto the frontage of your premises using standoff locators that are hidden behind the body of the letters. The lettering can be cut to any size, and again ACM (aluminium composite material) is a very popular choice of material for exterior cutout lettering. The letters can be finished using either simple coloured signwriting vinyl, or a printed finish, depending on what’s required. Cutout lettering is usually more expensive that a flat panel or tray sign, but it does look fantastic and really stands out – important when you’re really trying to attract as much attention as possible.
Permanent – High Budget Shop Signs
When you have more money to spend, the range of options for quality shop signage becomes even greater. The obvious difference that an expanded budget makes is the inclusion of illumination in your signage solution. Signs can be lit up in a variety of ways, and the addition of illumination makes a sign look much more attractive, and also means that it’s working for you regardless of the weather or time of day or night.
Lighting can be added to a flat ACM panel type sign in the form of trough or spot lights. These are fixed above or below the sign (depending on the space available) and will light up the sign in an effective manner. The lighting fixtures themselves are available in a variety of styles too, so you’re able to choose one that suits your requirements best.
Tray signs can also feature lighting, using trough or spot lighting, and also from internal illumination. This is where fluorescent tubes are fitted inside the tray sign, and the front panel of the sign has routed out text/shapes that are backed in translucent acrylic which allows the light to shine through whilst adding colour as required. Internally illuminated tray signs are very flexible in appearance, and the combination of solid and cutout areas, along with different lighting colours, can allow for a wide variety of finished styles.
Cutout lettering can also include lighting where budget allows. Solid letters can of course be lit using spot or trough lights, but where maximum attractiveness is desired it is more typical to use halo lighting or frontlighting, using LED systems. Halo lighting requires that the letters are “built up”. This means that instead of being a flat cutout the individual letters have sides – almost as if each letter is a jelly mould. This means that the LEDS can be hidden in the back of each letter so that they cannot be seen from the front – only the light that shines back onto the wall can be seen. This gives the letters the unique “halo lit” appearance. Front lit lettering is similar, but is more suitable for letters that will be viewed from a distance. The lettering is again “built up” and has the LED lighting installed, but is fixed to the wall the other way around so that the lights shine directly forwards. We used this type of lighting on the Leeds Beckett University main building.
Shop Signage – The Options Are Almost Limitless
Of course, the above suggestions are just some of the most common types that we regularly design and fit, but there are many more available. The fascia sign isn’t the be-all and end-all of your shop signage either. We often install shop signage in conjunction with window graphics, etched frosting and other internal and external display solutions that all go together to complete the whole package for your clients.
Whatever your budget, let Ad Bell work out the best solution for you. Your signage is working for your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so it’s important to get the right solution for you and your business. Get in touch with Ad Bell today!