Wait for it...A Sexy Topic...Care and Maintenance of Interior and Exterior Architectural Signage

October Write About It

Matt Berlage
ASI Signage
[email protected]

Okay, not so sexy – but you, the creative one, have put your heart and soul into the design so it might as well last! We all hope the signage you designed will effectively serve the wayfinding and identity needs for years to come. To help you achieve that goal, below are some easy to follow care and maintenance instructions to share with your clients for their interior or exterior signage.

As you know, some signage systems can range in cost from a good used car to a brand new sports or luxury car straight off the showroom floor. As every car owner knows, routine maintenance and care of the car helps ensure the best performance and longest life. The same can be said for interior and exterior signage.

The following is a list of tips and recommendations. Also, bear in mind that these are general "rules of thumb" and that signage can be made from a wide variety of substrates and have different kinds of finishes. Therefore, when in doubt, please contact your fabricator for specific care and maintenance instructions.

Interior Signage (no Braille, raised lettering, silkscreen, or vinyl text applied to the surface)

  • Signs should be dusted/cleaned once each season (every 90 days/3 months)
  • Use a clean, non-abrasive cotton cloth or paper towel to gently dust the signage
  • If spots or fluids have accumulated, you can use a mild soap and water mixture to gently wipe down the sign, but you must blot-dry the sign completely. Do not leave moisture on the sign and do not scrub the surface where letters are present

Interior Signage with Braille or raised letters and logos

  • Signs should be dusted/cleaned once each season (every 90 days/3 months)
  • Use a clean, non-abrasive cotton cloth to gently dust the signage (canned air can also be used)
  • Signs should be kept in climate-controlled environments and should not be subjected to high levels of humidity or accumulated moisture
  • If liquids are accidentally applied to the sign, blot-dry the sign completely

Cleaning Acrylic Panel Signs and Plastic Parts and Components

  • Use a moistened damp cloth with mild detergent. Take care not to damage any paper inserts used by making sure the cloth does not contain excessive water
  • Always be careful to ensure no dust or dirt particles are rubbed into the surface and never use paper towels to clean the surface
  • For plastic parts and components, use a clean soft cloth moistened with mild detergent and then dry them

Exterior Signage (Aluminum, Fiberglass, Acrylic)

  • Signs should be washed once each season (every 90 days/3 months)
  • Exterior signs should be washed with clean water and car shampoo as required
  • Car shampoo contains wax to protect and preserve the painted surface

Never Use the Following Items

  • Abrasive cloths, sponges, or scrubbing brushes
  • Cloths that were used to clean other surfaces (helps avoid unintended chemical reactions)
  • Detergents containing ammonia or solvents
  • Methylated spirits, solvents, or any acids
  • Detergents containing abrasives
  • Powerful steam or high pressure cleaning machines

Graffiti Removal: Simple Rules for Successful Removal on Non-ADA Signs

Treatment with graffiti remover must never take place in direct sun or on hot panels. The panel must always be cleaned with cold water to remove dirt such as sand, soil, etc. It is always a good idea to test the purchased graffiti remover on a non-visible part of the sign to make sure that the surface is not damaged. Graffiti remover is applied using a soft cloth and the entire affected area must be kept wet for approximately 3-4 minutes and must never dry out. If part of the affected area is about to dry out, apply more graffiti remover. Finally, wash the panel with cold water. Please try to avoid applying graffiti remover to any applied vinyl text and be careful to avoid the vinyl text during the wash-off phase. If graffiti covers the vinyl text, it might be best to remove and reapply it.

Environmental Impact and Other Factors to Consider for Exterior Signs

Where the sign is located and what the sign is exposed to can alter the maintenance schedule. Within industrial areas, corrosive particles are more prevalent. Lime, oil based deposits, sulfur dioxide, acids and other types of airborne pollutants can all adversely affect painted surfaces if signs are not adequately maintained.

  • Trees and foliage resins, pollen, and bird droppings should be removed promptly to avoid any damage.
  • In coastal areas, high concentrations of salt, particularly if coupled with high humidity, may adversely affect the wear characteristics of painted finishes.
  • All painted and plastic components fade over time, particularly in areas of strong sunlight. Appropriate color selection can minimize this effect, as can treating the surface with a wax-based cleaning fluid.

Also, be sure to remove protective wrapping. Wrapping is designed to protect the sign panels during shipment and the wrapping should be removed immediately. If left on and exposed to the elements, the wrapping may damage the surface of the sign. Once the protective wrapping material has been removed, regular cleaning is recommended.

Finally, consider native plants in the landscape. One simple and effective tip to extend the life of exterior signs is to plant native plants at the base of exterior signs. Native plants can withstand the local climate and require little maintenance, and they protect the posts and base of the signs by preventing lawn crews from accidentally striking the signs with mowers and weed eaters.

Proper care and maintenance involves observing a few simple rules and will help maintain the signs' attractive appearance and ensure a longer life. They are also easier to read, and convey a positive impression to visitors and staff! Happy cleaning!

ASI Signage has served the Ohio Valley for over 35 years and is a proud Women Owned Business. Some of our clients include ERS, Cincinnati Children's, Kettering Health, Chris Hospital, the University of Dayton, Sinclair College, Caresource, 84.51, and Great American Insurance. Matt Berlage started with ASI in 2010. Content in part contributed by asisignage.com

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