Author Archives: Tom Dalton

Custom house number plaques add to curb appeal

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At Signs Direct we’ve added these new custom Arched Marker Address Entry Plaques. These address signs have a stylish arched top shape that will accentuate your home’s exterior appearance. These plaques could also help first responders identify your home quickly in an emergency. The address plaque is made in the USA from cast aluminum providing excellent quality that will never rust. This plaque can be installed to your exterior wall in just minutes with the two screws which are provided with the sign. These are available in four different colors and they measures 12″ x 7.25″ and are a “quick ship” item. And for you husbands out there; at $34.26 each plus shipping …they’re a very affordable home upgrade to impress your wife on Mothers day! To order online, go to www.signsdirect.com

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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New “Dove Gray” Signicade Deluxe are now available.

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We’ve added a new color of signicade deluxe. The new color is called “Dove Gray” and it is part of our new “Designer Color Series” of signicade deluxe sign stands. This color is only available from Signs Direct.

This color has lots of applications because like black and white, it is a neutral color …but it doesn’t show dirt and scratches as much as the white.   One initial reaction was that it is “more sophisticated looking” than black or white. Black and white are pretty harsh being on the extreme ends of the grayscale spectrum whereas the gray doesn’t make an overly dominant design statement.  The white looks just a bit like a road barricade.  The black looks like it would be a good fit for a halloween store or a Spencer’s novelty gift store, but maybe not so well suited for a boutique clothing store where a classier appearance is required.

 

 

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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Trouble shooting that problematic window neon sign

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neon-blog-post

So, your neon sign doesn’t appear to be broken, but has started flickering or just won’t come on at all. Don’t panic… try these steps first.

If the sign illuminates but a tube FLICKERs:

Pull the “on/off” pull-chain (on the power supply) …pull quickly on and off two or three times ending with it off …then wait for 1 minute. Turn it on again and the problem should go away within a few minutes (if this fix is going to work at all). Repeat this ON/OFF procedure a couple of times if needed. If it is a new sign and it still flickers after trying this “fix”, then leave the sign ON for approximately one week (24 hours a day). Sometimes it takes time for the internal gases to settle.  Also, it may require up to 48 hours to achieve full brightness from the first time a new sign turned on.

If the sign turns on for only a few seconds then turns off:

The neon glass probably has a small hairline crack somewhere which has lets the neon gas out. The sign will need to be repaired by a neon tube bender.

If the sign has DIM letters within a few days of getting the new sign:

The sign needs a little bit more time to light up. Turn the sign on for 24 hours/day and keep it lit at least a week. This should fix the problem.

If the sign will not come on at all, not even for a split second:

Try to plug it into at a different wall outlet that you know is working. If it still doesn’t light up at all, it may be the power adaptor/transformer.
The adaptor/transformer from most manufacturers is warrantied for 1 year, so contact them for a replacement or to purchase a new transformer is it is out of warranty.

If a one year old sign has DIM areas:

Take the sign down, plug it in and turn it on. Hold the sign up over your head facing you. Be very carful not to touch the neon glass as it breaks very easily. Locate the very tiny mercury balls inside of the glass tubing. After you see them, tilt your sign so the tiny balls move to the area of the tubing that is not lighting up. After redistributing the mercury balls, leave the sign on for 20 minutes. If this was the issue, then it will regain its full brightness in the dim areas. If it is older than a few years, it may also need to be re-pumped with neon gas.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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Why do red sign graphics fade first?

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FADED-RED

 

This OSHA safety sign isn’t far from our business.  You’ll often see signs like this where the red is almost gone and the other colors aren’t faded too bad.  So, what are the reasons why red fades first?

First, lets define UV light. Ultraviolet (UV) light is an electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength from 400 nm to 100 nm (shorter than that of visible light).  Lets also assume that UV light is what causes fading. UV light has a shorter wavelength than visible light.  Light with a shorter wavelength has more energy than light with a long wavelength.

Short wavelength visible light (like blue) is more toward the UV end of the visible light spectrum (*see spectrum image) so therefore it is a shorter wavelength and has more energy. Longer wavelength visible light (like red) is more toward the the infrared end of the visible spectrum and therefore has less energy. Because of their greater energy, the shorter wavelengths of light cause more “bleaching” of the pigments in the paint and more fading. So, why would light with a very short wavelength effect RED more than Black? The main reason has to do with what light is reflected by each color and what light is absorbed. Red ink or pigment reflects the long wavelength light (like red) and absorbs the more destructive higher energy shorter wavelength light like the blues and greens.  

WAVELENGTH

SilverBlue and white graphics will reflect the short wavelength colors better (and therefore reflect more UV light) so they’ll fade slower.

I’m not an expert on how light affects pigment, but this is what I’ve compiled based on my research and discussions with others. Now you’ve got an answer when a customer asks why his red sign faded quicker than his blue sign.

 

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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Which outdoor sidewalk sign stand is “the best”?

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iPhone-Signicade

Asking which outdoor sidewalk sign stand is “the best” is a little like asking a carpenter “which tool is the best”. They’d likely say “it depends on what you’re trying to do”.

Other than print size, there are four main considerations when picking an outdoor sign stand.

  1. What kind of print do I want to use?
  2. How much do I want to spend?
  3. Do I need high Wind Resistance?
  4. Do I need a certain aesthetic?

Print Type:

When users ask “what kind of print can this stand hold” they might be saying they want a stand that holds a paper print because that is a limitation of the large format printer that they have available. Prints can be divided into TWO types.  They are either “thin flexible prints” or “rigid prints”.  Typically “thin flexible prints” are either made with laminated paper (card stock) or 030 styrene. The outdoor sign stands that work with thin flexible prints will almost always have a snap-frame to hold the print. The other type of print is a “rigid print” and signs that hold a “rigid print” will have either a slot to slide your panel into or they may just have a flat surface that you screw your rigid panel onto.  The a-frame signicade (pictured above) is a perfect example of a widely used rigid print sign stand. It is holding a 4mm thick corrugated plastic sign panel. While a person could tape a paper print onto it, that is not its intended use.

Cost:

This is a bit of a loaded question. For example, the signicade is usually about $10 cheaper than the signicade deluxe. So, while the regular signicade looks cheaper at first glance …the regular signicade requires that you come up with a way to attach your sign.  After you buy velcro or “well-nuts” or two sided tape to attach your sign to a regular signicade …you likely could have purchased the signicade deluxe which comes with a quick-change feature to hold your sign panels.  Another example is “snap frame stands”. They can cost two or three times the cost of a signicade, but unlike the signicade ….they hold thin paper prints.  So, if you have the equipment to print on laminated paper real cheap in your print room, then over the long run you’ll pay more for the signicade after you’ve purchased a large number of more expensive rigid prints from a printing company (signicades typically use prints on 4mm corrugated plastic panels).

Wind Resistance:

The stands that don’t hold water and have no springs and don’t swing will have the least resistance to the wind.  One example would be the poly “Quik Sign” stand. It is light weight and a light performer in the wind.  The fancy systems for fighting the wind (like springs) also tend to add a lot to the cost of the stand.  For example, the “wind master” line of stands performs great in the wind but also comes with a higher price tag than most of our other outdoor stands.  All of them are waterproof.

Aesthetics:

This is a very subjective consideration. In most cases you’ll want a neutral aesthetic so that you can switch your graphics around without ever clashing with the sign stand.  The black and white signicade a-frames are probably the most neutral in appearance.  The QLA and sidewalk swinger stands have a noticeably modern look.  The wind master line of stands have a certain cold/sterile/utilitarian appeal and look at home in front of industrial complex or corporate looking franchise. If you need something incredibly warm and rustic, I’d recommend crafting an a-frame stand out of well warn barn boards and a few hinges and a bit of chain.  For a country appeal, no plastic product will match that handmade look.

As always, if you still don’t know what sign stand to order, call Signs Direct for advice ..toll free 877-706-4601

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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3 common mistakes made when installing u-channel sign posts

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bad-uchannels

Don’t let your u-channel post installation look like this…

These signs look terrible. So, what happened here? I found three big mistakes when investigating the installation of these u-channel sign posts.  There might have been a fourth mistake as well.  I wasn’t there when they installed these posts, but they could’ve installed them crooked in the first place, but that is unlikely ..but that would be the fourth mistake.  Here are the known mistakes…

Mistake #1 was that they weren’t installed deep enough into the ground. I pulled one out and found they were only about 24 inches deep. In our area, posts should be 36 inches deep to get below the frost line and avoid something called “frost heave”.  The frost line is different in every area of the country. Do a google search for “frost line map” and you’ll find a map showing the depth of the frost line in your area. If you’ve ever squeezed a watermelon seed between your fingers and shot it across the room then you understand the principle behind “frost heave”.  Even in warm climates I’d go 36″ deep and then go even deeper for cold climates to get at least 3 or 4 inches below that area’s frost line.

Mistake #2 was going with a 1.12 lb post. A lot of people use these for signs, but their intended purpose is to hold reflective delineators. I see them used for signs everywhere. I recommend a 2 lb post for parking signs.  A 2 lb post is a post that if cut into a 1 foot long section would weigh 2lbs.  So, with that in mind you’ll see that the 2 lb post uses almost twice the steel of a 1.12 lb u-channel post.  When inspecting the posts pictured above, some were actually bent at the point where the post went into the ground.

Mistake #3 had nothing to do with how crooked these sign posts are.  Mistake #3 was how they installed their signs.  The posts make a “U” shape when viewed from above.  In that “U” shape, the sign would go along the top of the “U” and not the bottom.  When you bolt them against the bottom of the “U” shape they are less stable and can rock back and forth easier than if installed against the top of the “U” shape.

In conclusion, installing u-channel posts isn’t rocket science.  It is super easy if you’re aware of just a few common mistakes. Once you’re aware of the mistakes you’ll see just how common they are.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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The Sign Shoppe, Episode 3 – Bad Logo Designed By Client

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Carol has a challenge. A new client wants to use a really bad logo for his new business signage. The challenge is his wife created the logo. How can Carol help him without offending? Ray is no help at all, but the Boss has a few ideas. Watch now.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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ADA Rules Make Access Easy

ADA Rules
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In American history, few regulations have impacted business like those contained in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title III of the ADA regulates access to buildings and parking lots for people with disabilities to create access and prevent unintended discrimination. The regulations contained within title III cover things like entrances, ramps and parking spaces. The regulations in title III of the ADA also cover the familiar handicap signs that accompany accessible entrances, ramps and parking spaces. This article will cover some highlighted regulations from title III of the ADA, as well as a little information on the famous symbol emblazoned up handicap signs and handicap parking signs around the world.

ada-handicap-parking-space

According to the Department of Justice (n.d.), there must be an accessible route connecting handicapped parking spaces to accessible building entrances. If the private entity that owns the building is not in charge of the parking, then it is not necessary for them to comply, although the technical manual of the ADA encourages making the request to the appropriate governing body.

The number of necessary handicap spaces in a parking lot depends on a number of things. For instance, a parking lot with 100 spaces needs four handicap spaces, which is obviously only 4 percent. If the building is a medical care facility, where people may stay more than 24 hours, or where emergencies are handled, then 10 percent of the parking spaces need to be handicap, no matter the total number. Furthermore, if the building is a medical rehab facility that specializes in treating people with impaired mobility, then a full 20 percent of the parking spots must be handicapped.

Anyone who has ever wondered why icons like “low beam” and “windshield wiper” always look the same in every car should only look to ISO 7001 for explanation. Additional to the many well-known symbols contained within that standard is the International Symbol of Access (ISA) that emblazons handicap parking signs around the world. The ISA on handicap signs is the familiar white stick figure in a wheelchair, usually on a blue background. While the ADA may be an American law, the symbol used on handicap parking signs is international. In fact, the ISA is standardized by the International Standards Organization under the ISO 7001 standard.

The ISA isn’t only used for handicap parking spaces either; to comply with the ADA, they must also appear at passenger loading zones, accessible entrances and restrooms, if not every aforementioned area in a particular area is accessible.

The ISA is actually a copyrighted image. The copyright is held by the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility. The image was originally designed in 1968 by Susanne Koefoed, but according to Wikipedia, it was Karl Montan who made the final modification of giving the figure a head to make it the symbol known today. Now, handicap signs and handicap parking spaces everywhere display the symbol.

The ADA itself is not the only bit deserving of praise for raising the level of accessibility in the United States. Although the ADA is a law and it’s enforced by penalties, the cooperation of businesses across the country has helped the disabled, and proved that government and business can combine to make the world a better place.

References

(N.D.). “International Symbol of Access.” Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Symbol_of_Access

(N.D.). “Americans with Disabilities Act: ADA Title III Technical Assistance Manual Covering Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities.” Department of Justice. Retrieved from http://www.ada.gov/taman3.html

(2013). “The International Language of ISO Graphical Symbols.” International Standards Organization. Retrieved from http://www.iso.org/iso/graphical-symbols_booklet.pdf

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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Safety Orange: Blazing Through the Sky

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If only scientists had determined what color stands out best against the blue sky so they may use that color for safety signs. Oh wait a minute, scientists have figured this out! The color is called “safety orange” and it’s the natural complimenting color to azure – the sky’s blue color. Safety orange can be seen on all sorts of items, from construction signs to hunter hats. This article will take a look at the generals and specifics regarding this shade of orange as well as its use in safety signs.

safety-orange-construction

What is safety orange

Would the orange color of a sign by any other name be as noticeable? Not to get Shakespearean, but safety orange gets called a lot of things, although according to OSHA, it’s the same color. In fact, safety orange is also called OSHA orange. Other names for safety orange include blaze orange, vivid orange, hunter orange, and for some reason, Omaha orange.

For anyone who is interested, safety orange is actually called Omaha orange because a thrifty man from Ford Brothers Van & Storage in Omaha was looking for an affordable color to paint his trucks. Those trucks became known as Allied Van Lines, and they are Omaha orange to this day. The color came from the mixing of leftover paint, after the thrifty man made a deal.

The color orange is halfway between yellow and red on the color spectrum. In safety signs, yellow means caution and red means danger. Safety orange is a little beyond halfway between yellow and red on the visible light spectrum; it’s closer to red, which also places safety orange closer to danger on the safety spectrum. For OSHA compliance, safety orange is used to denote that parts of a machine are dangerous or energized.

Safety orange also must be worn by hunters to stay safe in the forest. Replica guns are required to have safety orange tips, to help clue law enforcement and others into the fact that it’s a fake gun. Perhaps safety orange is most widely recognized as the color of traffic cones and barrels. As mentioned earlier, safety orange works terrific for safety signs in road construction sites, due to its complementary contrast to the azure blue sky. Next to the sky, an Omaha orange safety sign will stand out the same way black letters do on a white sheet of paper.

How are colors used in safety signs

Safety orange isn’t the only color used for OSHA compliance in safety signs. OSHA actually has a safety code for signs using all the colors of the rainbow. As already mentioned, to OSHA, red means danger, orange is between red and yellow, and yellow means caution. Next on the spectrum is safety green, which according to OSHA is used to denote safety routes, exits and first aid kits. A safety blue sign will give important safety information. Currently, OSHA recognizes a safety purple, but has not defined what it means. Black, white and yellow used together typically denote traffic.

When it comes to making safety signs, there’s more to the message on them for OSHA compliance. Colors have meanings in the realm of safety, and whether people know the definitions of the OSHA safety colors or not, the connotations are there.

References

(N.D.). “Description for Ford Brothers Van & Storage.” DexKnows. Retrieved from http://www.dexknows.com/business_profiles/ford_brothers_van_and_storage-b1558714

(N.D.). “Safety Orange.” Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_orange

(N.D.). “Safety Orange Cross.” Seiyaku.com. Retrieved from http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/crosses/safety-orange.html#sup04

(2013). “Safety Sign and Marking Requirements.” Grainger. Retrieved from http://www.grainger.com/content/qt-safety-sign-marking-requirements-201

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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The Sign Shoppe, Episode 2

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Ray gets a harsh lesson on sign design. Carol wonders if she’ll take a pay cut. Ray comes up with a job-saving creative idea for a sign, and returns to his boss’s good graces as the coveted “Star Employee”. Watch now.

 

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90’s. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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