Friday, June 2, 2017

Hot Rolled Steel - Rustic and Refined

A couple of years ago one of our Sales Executives designed a rustic looking sign for a bar with steel, specifically hot-rolled steel, also known as Cor-Ten steel. This beautiful steel material has a natural rust finish, which looks both rustic and refined.  The finish is never the same on any given piece as it rusts, and its core is non-corrosive, giving the exterior a nice finish while resisting the elements to corrode like normal steel.

Since 2014 it has become one of our favorite materials to work with, for all types of signs.  Interior, exterior, dimensional letters, panels, backers, ADA signs and more.

Here's the sign that started it all back in 2014.  Thank you Jack Daniel's for "whetting our appetite" for this amazing material... This sign is mounted on a solid wood wall, with studs and spacers for depth and character.

The more we used this material, it became natural to suggest to our clients, especially if they used these words while describing their dream sign: rustic, industrial, or character.  Some customers know what they want, specifically.  Others have an idea and need guidance from us to get them to the right place.

Lobby or receptions signs are great for this material.  It will still rust, but not as quickly as an exterior sign, and it's a striking addition behind that reception desk.  It's also a conversation piece and allows relationship building between our customers and their clients.... it IS always about the relationship!

Some customers really want that extreme rust finish.  Here's an example of an exterior tenant sign with anodized brushed aluminum letters as a sharp contrast to the rust finish.  Time lapse between the "before" and "after" picture is about 6 months.  This particular sign was mounted 1/2" from the wall to prevent as much "rust drip" as possible against the wall; however, it still happens and will occasionally need to be cleaned up.

Other customers might have a specific finish they want with this material, or in the case of this particular client, they did not want to worry about rust drip, or a rust splash, against their beautiful teal monuments.  We suggested a natural aging process and then experimented with different clear coats that would protect the metal from further rusting, but not darken or minimize the rust finish.  The hot-rolled steel panels have negative cut wave shapes, and are mounted on a special frame welded to the monument face.  The letters are white acrylic stud mounted with spacers.  These monuments are easily seen from the street and draw the attention of visitors to make their tenant spaces easy to find.

We work with a fabulous local waterjet company, Innovative Cutting Design (ICD), and earlier I mentioned it was all about the relationship.  ICD knows we have a love for hot-rolled steel, and when a new restaurant reached out to them for this material, they referred us to make their sign.  This client knew exactly what he wanted and the sign looks fantastic for their grand opening in a couple of weeks.

 Whether you want an interior or exterior sign, hot-rolled steel offers a great opportunity for creativity with your clients.  The next time you hear those words - rustic, industrial or character - suggest this beautiful material for a change of pace.  You won't be disappointed.

Signing off for now,


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