Surprisingly, instead of refurbishing an old sign, many decide to scrap it. Is that a good idea? When should that be the alternative? Can an old sign be successfully made new?
Below we’ll discuss some good reasons to keep an old sign and give you some examples of some of our successful refurbishes.
Over time, city codes and ordinances for signs typically change – and not in the favor of the business owner! Most often the sign allowances get smaller in terms of how many square feet of sign area an owner can have and it’s overall height.
Recently we contracted to remake a shopping center monument sign that had been completely destroyed by and auto – so that no part of it could continue to be used. In going back to the city it seemed that over the years the code had changed and now, in order to obtain a new permit, the sign had to be made half as big! We are still negotiating through that one.
If you have a large sign like the Super A Foods shown above (over 45′ tall) its not likely that the city will allow a completely new one nearly as large. On the other hand, most municipalities do have what is called a “grandfather clause” that allows that as long as you don’t structurally modify a sign and only maintain it and change it cosmetically, you can keep it.
That allowed us to clean and repaint all the surfaces of Super A, completely rewire and re-lamp it’s interior electrical lighting and reface it with new flexible faces. The new lighting is eco friendly and less energy consuming and costly to operate. The new faces are flexible and guarantee not to blow out in high winds and framed in non-rusting aluminum. Though it was not inexpensive, it was probably only about 1/4 the cost of a brand new sign. And having lasted probably 40 years, it will easily last another 40. Not bad!
Another reason to keep an old sign is identity. Sometimes a sign has such a long history and presence that it “becomes” the business in people’s minds. Perhaps it’s unusual and iconic such as the Peppertree Lane awning sign above. If the sign is removed and / or changed, that valuable presence in the mind of clients can be lost, causing negative reactions that can harm the business – even if the new sign is “better” or more “fashionable”!
Imagine if you had been used to seeing this lovely awning when doing business for years at Peppertee Lane. Then one day you come back, only to see this special sign no longer there. Would you be pleased? Very possibly not. You might even experience such disappointment that you would never return.
Instead you should consider refurbishing your old sign and making it look brand new. On Peppertree Inn, located across the street from the ocean, we were able to make improvements that will make the sign last even longer than the first time. We completely kept it’s iconic look while replacing the letters with new ones, using all aluminum and stainless steel parts. Instead of a painted finish as before, the new letters are anodized Gold which outperforms paint every time. The result is a great looking sign that is better than before and yet causes none of the disappointment that their long term clients may have experienced if we had changed it.
Another issue at stake is cost. The footings and structure of new signs can cost from 1/3rd to 1/2 the overall price of the sign. If you have an existing structure that can be reused, it is often better to use it even if you have to drastically modify it.
On DDL above, we had an unusual situation in which the old sign was dated in style and had a security fence placed right over the middle of it! The city was okay with allowing the same size and location, and historical identity wasn’t an issue. We just had to update it and eliminate that odd fencing issue.
So what we did is “sleeve” it. In other words we manufactured an aluminum framed “sock” that simply slipped down over and completely covered the old sign. No new structure or footing was necessary. We also fabricated the back half with a black finish, causing it to “disappear”. The result? A more contemporary and handsome monument sign at probably half the cost of a new one or less.
One last thing to consider is that technology has advanced such that the material used in refurbishing old signs can be superior and longer lasting than the original ones! Less likely to rust or oxidize, many sign paints and metals such as aluminum and stainless steel are much better, readily available and cost effective. Lighting and electrical has improved, with new LED lighting products that are just as effective and yet drastically less costly in energy.
So if you have an old sign and don’t know what to do with it, consider the above reasons and decide whether refurbishing is might not be the best thing for you. If you are still unsure, call Landmark Signs at 714-637-9900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org today and let us show you how your old sign can become a new gem!
Here’s to great signs!
John Myres, The Sign Expert