We’re all familiar with the phrase—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle as it applies to household items. It’s been in the American vernacular for decades. Simplify your life and purchase less; what is old can be new again, or re-make an item into something useful for its second life.
What about signs? Can they be used again, or spruced up for a second life? Can you add some new luster or conserve new sign materials by using the existing sign panel? Instead, can you dust off, re-paint, and repair your sign panel?
The answer is yes. We use the term refurbish: to make clean, bright, or fresh again.
For Kinsington Condominiums in South Burlington, the tenants considered refurbishment a good way to go for their twelve-year-old carved sign. Purchased from us back in 2000, the sign was looking a tad weary—dings from rock hits; lichen and other fungi growing along the edges, and its paint was faded from more than a decade of ultraviolet light exposure, but structurally? It was in good shape.
For a fraction of what a new sign would cost, refurbishment is a cost-effective way to get a "new" sign. For Kinsington Condominiums, the process began with a general cleaning of the sign panel.
The photos below describe the process from the start:
Here's the lichen--technically a fungus living in symbiosis with an alga. Lichen show up in nature quite on trees and rocks, but also other stable objects held permanently outdoors. They don't need dirt to live, but instead absorb water from where they live, or from the air, and through photosynthesis, they make carbon dioxide as food.
The sign facing the sun was the perfect place for lichen to make a home. The fungal part of the partnership is what held the lichen to the sign and allowed it to nestle in around the edge. Apparently they like the surfaces of carved signs.
The lichen was scraped off easily with a scratchy kitchen pad. The pad removed it without scratching the sign panel surface.
Second, the sign was cleaned. After twelve years, you can't expect a sign to have not only wear and tear, but actual dirt on its surface. Because this is a carved sign, the dirt settled into the curves of the text.
For your sign, even if it doesn't need to be repainted, you can clean the surface with a green household cleaner. For this sign, the cleaner removed almost all of the dirt, and any dirt remaining came off when the panel was sanded. This process prepared it for a coat of primer.
Several more steps followed for this sign project. Come back here in the next week or so to see the second installment of "Reduce, Reuse, Recyle Your Sign."
What do you think about refurbishing signs?