Shop Talk (Aug '14): Automotive Grade Coatings for Signs

Sign manufacturers are very interested in color, durability, and process improvement in their coatings systems. These are also the three pillars that automotive coatings were built upon. Let’s examine why you might choose automotive coatings for your sign manufacturing line.

Signs represent a company, corporation, personal commitment, and passion for the people who started them and run them. The sign is made to stand out and be noticed, often with a very specific color that represents the brand. Any yellow will not do for McDonalds® and any red will not do for Coke®. These colors are part of their registered trademarks and synonymous with the brand.

Automotive coatings suppliers make sure you can rely on their color matching and color library. Automotive coatings provide a complete accurate library of tens of thousands of automotive colors, house paint colors, competitive colors, Pantone, and RALs. You need color accuracy; it is baked into your brand image. Color is the ultimate backbone of automotive coatings—as is the sign industry.

The same way you demand accurate and wide color offerings, you need to demand long term durability. Color is spot on, check; but nine months from now you need that color to be stable, not fade or shift color.

You also need it to adhere through wind, sun, rain, and salt exposure. Automotive coatings are built to stand up to environmental exposure and over-the-road abuse. You can rest assured your sign will enjoy a long life representing the brand as good as the day the sign was installed.

Automotive coatings pass some of the most stringent OEM manufacturers requirements and will surpass sign manufacturers expectations. Also, the choice of pigments in the coating system directly affects the color hold out and gloss hold out over the life of the paint. Automotive grade pigments are the most durable pigments on the market and solely used. Color that lasts.

The final advantage to using automotive coatings is focus on the entire coating process.

Sign manufacturers are bending metal, welding metal, and assembling metal followed by priming and top coating. It is very similar processes but different end products. By understanding efficient processes, the service needed for automotive and sign manufacturers are very similar.

Is there going to be added time to apply, added coats or longer cure times? Any of these will cost you time and money.

A coating system should be able to pay you back with fewer coats, faster application, and quicker cure. Focusing on higher solids coatings, easy-to-apply coatings, and coatings that allow you to lower or eliminate the bake cycle can make a slightly more expensive gallon of paint save you big dollars when examining total job costing. Cost, time, and energy savings can be reduced out of both processes.

Color, durability, and process improvement are some of the most important items in any coating system. Add in low VOC environmentally sound systems, and you have very similar needs that make automotive coatings a smart choice for today’s sign manufacturers.

—Dan Szczepanik

Dan Szczepanik is Global Product Manager – Fleet & Manufacturing for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. For more information, call 800/SWULTRA (800/798-5872) or visit

Join SBI's Email List





Which topic would you like to see more articles about?