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TOPIC: Expanded PVC opinion

Expanded PVC opinion 30 Jan 2014 15:03 #1

  • Tim Massa
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Hello all,

I have the opportunity to remake some signs for our local golf course to replace the existing ones that are currently up. They are sponsorship signs that are on each fairway sign that provide extra advertising revenue for the golf course. They measure 8"x22" and were originally made of 1.5" HDU. They were mounted between two pressure treated 4x4's and had a lagbolt driven thru post and into the narrow edges of he sign. Surprisingly, they have held up that way over 12 yrs.
I'm wondering if I should give expanded PVC a try. There doesn't seem to be any cost difference between the HDU and PVC but I thought it might hold up better in the outdoor environment. They will be painted and I'm looking forward to Joe's Nova paint recommendation.
I'm very green to sign making but feel confident to create the layouts and mill the material out but want to make the best possible choice in material for the intended application. My gut tells me PVC would wear well but all I can find within 250 miles is 25mm PVC for $300. HDU is widely available from several sources nearby. Any thoughts on one vs. the other?

Expanded PVC opinion 30 Jan 2014 15:18 #2

  • Brian Quinter
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HDU machines much nicer and quicker, and I think that size you don't need any extra strength that you might get with PVC.

Expanded PVC opinion 30 Jan 2014 20:59 #3

  • Tim Massa
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Thanks Brian,
I'll go with the HDU as its available 1 1/2" thick. Thanks for your advice.
Tim

Expanded PVC opinion 30 Jan 2014 21:19 #4

  • John Miller
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My vote would be the HDU also. Especially if the sign was to be painted a dark color. Dark colored PVC will really twist if exposed to sun heat.
Someday every things gonna be different... When I paint my masterpiece

Expanded PVC opinion 31 Jan 2014 07:40 #5

  • Joe Crumley
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I can't imagine the cost of 1/2" PVC costing $300. Something's not right. We pay $180 for 1" from N Glantz.

HDU does not machine quicker than PVC. No Way. I go with PVC over HDU for a couple of reasons. First off it's much faster to finish and gives a cleaner look. Then you have the durability. It's tougher than 15 or 20 lb HDU. One of the down sides to 1" PVC is the chips or dust. Routing causes static electricity and it
Joe Crumley
www.normansignco.com

Expanded PVC opinion 31 Jan 2014 10:38 #6

  • Tim Massa
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Hi Joe,

Thanks for your insights. I wouldn't have considered the expanded PVC if not for your posts about its characteristics on other forums. It was the workability and durability that you mentioned that had me calling around with the major suppliers in my area. I was getting quotes for 25mm thick

Expanded PVC opinion 31 Jan 2014 10:51 #7

  • Tim Massa
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Oh yeah,
I should mention that these signs will be painted in dark brown for the borders, sides and backs with litter tan for the pocketed fields and white for the raised type fonts. Might cut fonts out of separate material and lightly pocket signs to make finishing go easier.
My other major concern would be the mention of the signs warping from exposure to sun. There only being 'pinned' on either end with lad screws.
Warping would be a disaster. Cant test a piece since the sun doesn't come out for another 3 months....

Thanks again,
Tim

Expanded PVC opinion 31 Jan 2014 17:59 #8

  • Jerry Stanek
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Tim am I reading this correctly 25mm for around $300 and 1 inch around $225 isn't 25 mm basiclly 1 inch

Expanded PVC opinion 31 Jan 2014 20:32 #9

  • Tim Massa
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Sorry for the confusion Jerry,
I think that should have read $200 for 1" HDU. I'm not in the shop but I'll look over my notes when I am to confirm.
If my memory is correct I believe it was Garstons on the last HDU quote.

Expanded PVC opinion 31 Jan 2014 20:47 #10

  • Jeff Johnson
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I don't know much but what little, and I stress very little,

Expanded PVC opinion 31 Jan 2014 21:25 #11

  • Joe Crumley
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Tim,

.75 &1" PVC will not warp. This stuff is strong.

Finishing is always fun. When a PVC background is routed out it has a little texture. I'm fond of using flat latex on those area's. On the borders, letter faces and dingbats, a semi-gloss works well or you can use a little vinyl.
Joe Crumley
www.normansignco.com

Expanded PVC opinion 01 Feb 2014 05:38 #12

  • Mike Schnorr
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Tim,

Considering the size of the signs you will be doing, you might want to look at Trex trim (or similar pvc products). It comes in dimension lumber sizes (a 1x12 is 11 1/4" x 3/4" for example). I buy 1 x 12s in 18' lengths for about $80.00 and has a wood grain texture on one side with smooth on the other. I get it from my local lumberyard (they stock it) so I don't have to pay extra for shipping or drive a long way. Just a thought... It comes in 5/4 as well. If you don't need a 4x8 sheet it is a great alternative.

Mike

Expanded PVC opinion 01 Feb 2014 07:13 #13

  • Jeff Johnson
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If these signs are 8"tall X 22" wide mounted between 2 post I don't think I would use .75 or 1" I would be scared to death. A material that thin on a run that long???

Expanded PVC opinion 01 Feb 2014 09:06 #14

  • Joe Crumley
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Jeff,

I understand your concern.

This material at those dimension couldn't be broken with a baseball bat or golf club. 1" PVC is extremely tough. It's tougher than HDU and will outlast it many times over.
Joe Crumley
www.normansignco.com

Expanded PVC opinion 01 Feb 2014 10:57 #15

  • Tim Massa
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Thanks for the heads up Mike, I'll try some trex supplies on Monday. Very good to know.

Thanks for the insights Joe. What are you referring to when you mentioned vinyl as a finishing material. I like the idea of using a flat finish for the recess and a semigloss for the type and borders. Would add a level of complexity I never thought about. Thanks for that.

I'll see if the thickness of the material is that much of an issue for the owners and, if not, I'll try the PVC route. Thanks for all the advice. Much appreciated. I'll post on the progress if the clients sign the line.

Regards,
Tim

Expanded PVC opinion 01 Feb 2014 11:34 #16

  • Joe Crumley
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Tim,

I'll post a couple of photo's tonight or in the morning on ways to use cut vinyl on PVC. It's one of my favorite methods.

Now watch out for Trex. I've done my best to paint and glue that material with no success. It's nothing like what we're using.

If you want to span a distance like 12" X8' with 1" PVC you'll need to apply some kind of brace on the back. Aluminum angle or glue another strip of PVC. Very few materials will span long distances without support. Also I should mention sanding. This material is tough and you can lean down on it with a sander. You can clean the edges with a flap wheel. You'd destroy HDU the way we finish out this material by sanding. At first I thought sanding was out but with a little experimenting success came about. Be careful about listening to NA Sayers. Most haven't any experience.

When you post, Please do so about your personal success and failures. It's not helpful to newbees to put out suggestions that are not correct. Only post what you know or aspire to.
Joe Crumley
www.normansignco.com

Expanded PVC opinion 01 Feb 2014 14:59 #17

  • Jeff Johnson
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I think PVC is the best choice for this job being it will be on a golf course and it is tougher than HDU, but I guarantee .75 or 1 inch

Expanded PVC opinion 01 Feb 2014 19:22 #18

  • Joe Crumley
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One of the advantages of PVC it's good with most any kind of screw and brace. As I posted above, aluminum angle can be added if needed.

No, materials at this length will not wobble or come apart like HDU. Are you sure you've used 1" PVC?

Joe
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Expanded PVC opinion 02 Feb 2014 07:18 #19

  • Joe Crumley
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Tim and anyone interested in using PVC, here are a few photo's.
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Joe Crumley
www.normansignco.com

Expanded PVC opinion 02 Feb 2014 07:31 #20

  • Joe Crumley
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Woops missed one,

Two of these were made to replace hail damaged HDU versions. I'd be happy to post a photo showing what hail can do. What's important to me is the expense my client had to go through. These cost my client $750 each. That won't happen to them again with this material.
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Expanded PVC opinion 02 Feb 2014 08:30 #21

  • Jeff Johnson
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Those carvings really cut down on that thickness. Is that why you used ribs?

Expanded PVC opinion 02 Feb 2014 11:14 #22

  • Joe Crumley
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The reason for the ribs was mainly to give depth the double sided sign. With this technique is possible to make the panel any thickness. Also the ribs add strength. Notice the holes. They're for air movement which allows the sign to breath and keep cool during the summer.

I've also included a photo of the older HDU panel showing hail damage.

Then there's the wood graining I'm working on. This is a wire brush technique and requires very little skill and goes quickly.
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Joe Crumley
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Expanded PVC opinion 02 Feb 2014 11:17 #23

  • Joe Crumley
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PVC Wood Grain w/wire brush
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Expanded PVC opinion 02 Feb 2014 13:38 #24

  • Jeff Johnson
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Joe could you explain how you do the arch on the double sided sign, the gap ? Is it curved or bowed PVC also?

Expanded PVC opinion 02 Feb 2014 14:32 #25

  • Joe Crumley
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Jeff,

Once the front and back panel were fabricated back to back, I went around the inside top edge with a 1/4 dado bit. The top panel is from 1/4" PVC. It fit so tight there was much of any gap needing filler. Then sand smooth with the disk sander in the photo.

It's necessary to have vent holes top and bottom to encourage air flow.

The glue is Gorilla PVC glue. It's a dream to work with and doesn't smell.
Joe Crumley
www.normansignco.com

Expanded PVC opinion 02 Feb 2014 14:49 #26

  • Jeff Johnson
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Thanks !

Expanded PVC opinion 02 Feb 2014 16:44 #27

  • Jason Jones
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Nice looking PVC work. Thank you for sharing the technique. Always appreciated. Going to have to try it again on that type of work. Wood grain textures, etc.

Expanded PVC opinion 03 Feb 2014 08:20 #28

  • Tim Massa
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Joe,

Those signs look amazing.
Does the wood grain get carved out initially as a texture and the wire wheel give a final 'roughness' and organic feel?

How would you use that flap sander I see chucked into the drill? Do you have to worry around sharp edges of shapes?

Those signs look like they would be fun to do. I godda find more sign work!

Thanks so much for the photos and your time you're sharing on this subject and material.

Expanded PVC opinion 04 Feb 2014 08:24 #29

  • Joe Crumley
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Tim,

With regard to the wood graining. Both of these projects were grained with the router. My tests with a wire brush have not been used for signage yet but next time that's the way I'll go. It's much faster and allow some creative use.

For your project HDU will work fine but since I've moved away from it there's no going back.

I'm showing three sanders. The regular flap wheel is used to knock off any fuzzies. You don't have to worry about rounding over the edges of letters or detail. PVC is real tough. The other flap type wheel is much more aggressive and one of my favorites. I use it to lightly sand for painting and general smoothing. Remember this material is so tough you can really lean down on it. I also like using a common wood scraper to smooth up sign edges. My door planer also comes in handy.

1' PVC is as tough as 2" 18lb HDU except it likes bolts, screws and fixtures much better. Nova color is a good paint for this material and sanding bondo is a breeze.
Joe Crumley
www.normansignco.com

Expanded PVC opinion 09 Feb 2014 15:45 #30

  • Tim Massa
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Hi again,

I've got another little job I'm doing that would have a small sign created for a display cabinet. After reading the responses and Joe's advice I think that expanded PVC would be a good material choice as well as helping me become familiar with it.
This was a fairly straight forward V-carve file with a mix of 90 degree bit for the big fonts and 60 degree bit for the rest.
The relief will be getting hit with a dark green color and the rest will be the PVC's white.

What I found was that the thickness varied considerably. Enough so that an average material thickness that I used in the carve file material set up was not enough to compensate. I found the thickness was anywhere from 4.32-4.7 within this signs thickness! Bummer.
I'm thinking that if I cut a whole sheet of this it would require that I fly cut the sheet of PVC in order to reduve the thickness variation. I'm wondering if this is what others find they have to do in order to get good results.
In the attached photos you can see there is a divit in the upper case F where the material was thickest. Conversly, you can see the smaller fonts and appear to be thinner, on the right, where the material is thinner. The curly graphics appear different as well. (O.K., i dont know the proper name for those graphic embellishments).
So is everyone fly cutting their sheets or is my material less than it ought to be?
Thanks for any insights, its appreciated.

Tim
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Expanded PVC opinion 09 Feb 2014 16:50 #31

  • John Miller
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I've had the same issue at times Tim. What brand of PVC are you using?
Someday every things gonna be different... When I paint my masterpiece

Expanded PVC opinion 09 Feb 2014 19:30 #32

  • Tim Massa
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Not sure John.

It was left over from another job I did awhile back. Do you have a brand you recommend?

Expanded PVC opinion 09 Feb 2014 19:44 #33

  • Tim Massa
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Another observation I had was the lack of a well defined line at the bottom of the groove in the smaller fonts. Im guessing this is due to the slow speed of the cutting flute at the tip, having a much smaller r
diameter to complete. Lots of fuzz and had a dragged up appearance in the bottom of the smaller fonts. cutting at 2 ips at 14k on the spindle.
I was using an Amana 60 degre bit for the smaller fonts and the whachmacallit curly q graphics. Ive read elsewhere of using a 'roughing V bit thats had the tip ground flat and toolpathing the fonts with a slighly offset line from the original. Then a regular tipped V bit is used to cut to the final line leaving a cleaner cut and less material for it to remove. Wondering if there is a better suited bit or cutting strategy for doing the finer line work in PVC or does what I've read about sound like a good direction to try?

Thanks for any advice,
Tim

Expanded PVC opinion 09 Feb 2014 22:28 #34

  • John Miller
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Tim, I'm far from a master carver, but I'd never use a 60 degree bit for v carving. I use a 120 for most everything 12" letters down to 2" letters are all done with a 120 at my shop. Komacel which is smooth & glossy seems to be produced to closer tolerances than some of the other brands. How do you plan on finishing the sign?
Someday every things gonna be different... When I paint my masterpiece

Expanded PVC opinion 10 Feb 2014 05:56 #35

  • Joe Crumley
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I understand your dilemma about small Vcarving in PVC. This isn't the best material for the job. The reason being, as you stated, some of the materials isn't perfectly level but most of all it can be grainy down in the letter wells.

My all time favorite is Trupan. It's getting harder to find.
Joe Crumley
www.normansignco.com

Expanded PVC opinion 10 Feb 2014 06:21 #36

  • Tim Massa
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John,
I plan to mask off the surface of the pvc with transfer paper and v carve thru that. Once the carvings done I'll hit the letters in the spray booth using the Nova paint for the first time. Peel off the paper and call it done? Ill try re-running the file again perhaps using the 90 or a 110 degree bit on everything. Wouldn't mind simplifying the tool pathing. I have insert cutter v bits from Amana for those angled V bits. Maybe I'll try the technique of grinding a flat on one of the points and run that first then switch out the insert with a new pointy one for a final light pass to avoid fuzzies and a cleaner bottom well line.
Joe, my local material supplier did stock Trupan last I knew. If it saves on labor and material cost I'm all for it but doesn't it present a finishing challenge when using a water base paint product?
I've got a dozen or so of these to produce so any labor savings would be welcome.
Thanks for all the help, it's appreciated.

Tim

Expanded PVC opinion 10 Feb 2014 09:38 #37

  • Joe Crumley
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Tim,

You're ahead of me on the masking with PVC. It should work fine. Both Trupan, Extira, and PVC have critically sharp edges. We finished out some Trupan last week after putting a color coat on the surface. If you have a scrap to throw away try leaving it out doors without paint to see how it does in your area. It's amazing how well it stands up.
Joe Crumley
www.normansignco.com

Expanded PVC opinion 10 Feb 2014 13:54 #38

  • John Miller
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The mask/paint technique works like a dream. We use paint mask from Fellers. One trick we do to make the painted letters smoother and have the paint lay on nicer is to prime the carved letters with a coat of PVC pipe cement. Really gives a nice surface to apply paint to.
Someday every things gonna be different... When I paint my masterpiece

Expanded PVC opinion 11 Feb 2014 14:34 #39

  • Doug Haffner
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I LOVE pvc!
I've been using it for lots of things...even 3D carving.

One thing we haven't discussed is that you can use how it reacts to heat to your advantage!
I built a box and sometimes heat it up in order to shape it.

Expanded PVC opinion 12 Feb 2014 07:27 #40

  • John Miller
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GREAT INFO Doug! Thanks for the technique. I will file that in my brain for later use
Someday every things gonna be different... When I paint my masterpiece
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