19 Precision Board Signs For The Price of 9 Wood Signs

Its not everyday we get to see pictures from a single project consisting of so many signs. Our friend John Dungan at T. Ham Sign Company emailed pictures of a 19-sign job they recently finished.

Originally, John was contacted to replace the apartment complex’s aging sandblasted wood signs. After taking a look at the project and examining his options, he suggested that they could replace the signs using Precision Board Plus at a much more cost-effective price than wood. In the end it turned out using Precision Board Plus saved them over $7,000, with the added benefit of the signs lasting much longer.

Not long after that call, they received the go-ahead to start building the signs using Precision Board Plus PBLT-18. Even though T. Ham Sign Company has the capabilities to either sandblast or CNC rout, they decided to CNC the signs because it would require less overall time and labor.


To make sure the signs have enough strength to handle harsh weather, each of the signs has 2″ x 2″  x 1/8″ aluminum angles attached to it with stainless steel bolts. These provide an extremely strong attachment point for the sign posts. There are also 3 horizontal aluminum bands running across the back of each sign for additional strength.


T. Ham Sign was able to successfully replace all 19 signs for the apartment complex, incorporating the new complex logo and management company’s info onto the lower portion of the sign, using a better-priced, higher-quality substrate. Be sure to visit the T. Ham Sign Company website for more information and pictures from them!

If you would like the breakdown on HDU vs. Wood, please visit our previous blog: HDU Vs. Wood Signs.






How To Make A Sandblasted Precision Board HDU Sign

Sandblasting HDU can allow for many more interesting and subtle textures than a wood sign. In addition to sandblasting much quicker than wood, it allows the sandblaster to move much closer to the surface. Because of the low blasting pressure, the detail and shapes can be much more subtle.

This sign was sandblasted and finished by Insignia, a full service sign shop based in Anaheim, CA. Having sandblasted signs for over 20 years, they are sandblasting experts!

Step 1: Masking the Precision Board

Sandblasting HDU is done by applying a vinyl mask weeded from digital coordinates that are input into a plotter, or weeded by hand. All parts of the sign that will be sandblasted are cut from the mask, protecting any smooth surfaces you wish to keep.

Several different types of sandblast mask are available, from low, medium and high tack. Use a medium tack mask for pre-primed HDU, and a high-tack mask for unprimed HDU.

Step 2: Sandblasting Precision Board

Sandblasting Precision Board is just like sandblasting a lightweight wood. Recommended blasting pressure must be approximately 60 psi max. at the pot. This will allow for the unique textures only available with HDU.

Since the blasting pressure is low, the grit moves slower and takes out small pieces of the background instead of pulverizing the surface. This also means that a smaller compressor can be used, allowing almost anyone to make their own sandblasted sign.

Popular types of sandblast grit include clay sand and aluminum oxide. The density of the grit depends on which type of texture you desire. A larger grit will allow for a rougher texture, and finer grit allows for a smoother texture. Joseph Westbrook, owner of Insignia, specified that this sign was sandblasted using a 60/90 blend of Red Ruby Garnet, which is a great media to blast with because it is sharp, cuts nicely and is uniform in size. Background texture largely depends on the size of the medium.

Step 3: Priming the Precision Board:

Since not all paints adhere to raw HDU for the long term, it is necessary to prime Precision Board prior to painting. Coastal Enterprises manufactures FSC-88WB, a single component water based primer/filler. Any primer that is made for HDU will also work. FSC-88WB is a high build primer, able to be used on materials other than HDU and can be sprayed, brushed or rolled. We also have an excellent step-by-step video on priming Precision Board.

Step 4: Finishing the Precision Board

Any type of paint can be used on Precision Board once it is primed with FSC-88WB. Many of our customers use 1-Shot Paints. Coastal Enterprises also offers a complete line of applicable textures and coatings that allow the priming step to be skipped.

This is an example of a sandblasted Precision Board HDU sign:

Step 5: Send Us Photos Of Your Project!

If you send us pictures of your Precision Board project, we would love to feature your company in a blog or a newsletter! You can submit your work here.

Additional Tips:

  • Practice on test sheets. Request a free sample here.
  • Move the nozzle as evenly as possible.
  • Re-using old sandblast media can allow for better control and more detail
These are all Precision Board HDU sandblasted signs by the experts at Insignia:

HDU Vs. Wood Signs

Why are HDU signs more popular than wood signs? Wooden signs often fall victim to moisture intrusion, which will then cause the sign to swell and the paint to crack. A wooden sign requires much more maintenance, commonly requiring yearly repainting to keep it looking fresh. HDU is also much more readily available, and being a certified green material, it is also an eco-friendly choice.

HDU signs last so much longer because high density urethane is made up of millions of tiny cells, which are not interconnected, which means moisture can never get in. This is the reason why Coastal Enterprises offers a “Life of the Sign” warranty, against your sign warping, cracking rotting or splitting. When your HDU sign is painted, it will look just like wood and last much longer.

We often hear from people that they’ll never forget the first time they tried hand-carving with HDU, and how it was immediately clear that it was the perfect hand carving material. The consistency and various densities allow you to truly fine tune your hand-carved project specifically to your individual needs.

As mentioned in our FAQ section, any woodworking tool can cut Precision Board Plus. Rasps, dremels, and craft drills are all great tools to use for shaping. Standard wood carving tools work great, and in cases where extreme detail is desired, dental tools also work well. You can find a nice selection of carving tools here.

An interesting article in Sign Builder Illustrated, written by Mark Roberts, details the process he used to incorporate some hand carved Precision Board Plus HDU into an aluminum sign for a park. Check out the full article on page 18 here, and learn what his “secret weapons” are for hand-carving Precision Board Plus HDU!

If you have any questions, we offer free technical support and samples and can be reached at: (800) 845-0745.