House of Signs in Silverthorne, Colorado is a nationally renowned sign shop that specializes in dimensional routing. The company has been featured in Sign Builder Illustrated before, as recently as last year’s Young Sign Makers Awards when their own senior sign maker, Zac Bethel, took home honors.
Recently House of Signs completed an out of the ordinary project that was covered by an insurance claim, which is a bit of a rarity in the signage world.
Lodge by The Blue in Blue Ridge, Colorado, is a ski resort and event hosting venue, and their previous sign had been standing strong for fourteen years. However a large snowfall made it barely visible to a snow removal crew that was simply going about their normal day, and they accidentally took down the sign.
So naturally, House of Signs was called in to design, construct, and install the replacement sign.
Lodge by The Blue initially wanted to install the replacement sign in the exact same spot as its predecessor, however, an unforeseen issue arose.
“You would think we could put the sign in the same place as the original sign, but [Summit County] told us that location is no longer allowed to have a sign, since it is now technically a wetlands area,” says House of Signs Owner Paul Clukies. “The county said we had to move the sign into a different area and deal with the county engineering department.”
Not only did House of Signs now have to get a utility locate, but the whole thing was filed under an insurance claim.
“So we had to then sell the proposal to the insurance company and go through all their scrutiny because of how nice the sign was,” says Clukies. “We basically had to re-sell the project all over again.”
In terms of the actual construction of the new sign, the primary focus was on achieving a proper height to avoid repeating history with a snowplow.
“The snow gets pretty high there, as Lodge by The Blue is located 10,000 feet above sea level,” says Bethel. “Because of this, the snowpack is usually four or five feet high.
“So we decided to make this sign stand about seventeen feet high and roughly eight feet wide.”
Design was the next step, as House of Signs gave Lodge by The Blue a totally new signage look from their legendary design specialist Periandros Damoulis.
This particular project used a total of almost eleven sheets of Duna high-density urethane (HDU) four-by-eight-foot sheets of varying widths.
“We used two CNC routers simply to accelerate the time of milling,” explains Bethel. “Each of the large pieces for this sign take anywhere from eight to fourteen hours to mill.”
The new sign had many large pieces totaling close to ninety hours of mill time on the company’s CNCs. “For the larger 3D cuts, we used a 1/4-inch ball nose router bit,” says Bethel, “and for some of the smaller 3D cuts, we used a 1/8-inch ball nose.”
Regarding the painting process, House of Signs started by using two coats of primer sealer on the raw HDU. They then applied two coats of PPG Acri-Shield® paint for the base coats and colors (all water-based acrylic) along with some finish glazing to achieve the needed rustic-looking features.
The mountain design located at the top of the sign acts as a snow catching device. It also works for illumination.
“The mountain design top is actually a double-sided light bar with recessed LED lighting,” says Bethel. “So [the LED lighting] shines down onto the face of the sign on both sides.”
The eighteen-inch-wide light bar is shaped like a mountain and follows the contour of the top of the sign itself, which was made out of HDU as well.
“We used the CNC router to cut the shape of the mountain nine times out of two-inch-thick HDU to get the width we needed,” says Bethel. “These pieces were all epoxied together and reinforced with steel rods and timber lock bolts. We mounted the light bar to three pieces of custom-welded steel square tube and flat bar brackets.”
For installation of the seventeen-foot-tall sign, House of Signs quickly realized they would be needing reinforcements when it came to digging the holes to the depth needed.
“The holes needed to be forty-eight feet deep for many reasons,” says Bethel. “The frost line at this elevation is roughly forty-two feet deep.”
Since digging that depth was not going to be an easy task that high in the Rocky Mountains, House of Signs sub-contracted a rock driller to dig the appropriate depth.
Next came setting the two twenty-inch-thick eight-by-eight-inch wood beams and the steel frame holding the sign faces.
“We used our boom truck as a crane to lift the beams and the steel frame (all pre-assembled on site) into the holes,” explains Bethel. “We then filled the holes with concrete.”
After letting the concrete set for a few days, House of Signs returned to the install site with their boom truck and lifted each sign face into place.
The company placed pre-mounted “L” brackets on the backside of the sign faces, which allowed attachment to the four-by-four-foot square tube, steel frame.
“We finished by mounting the light bar above the sign and running the electricity to the LED transformers,” says Bethel.
All in all, the Lodge’s snowplowing misfortune resulted in a new, great looking HDU sign that promises to not be affected by any monumental snowfall. Nor should it fear damage from any further accidental snowplow misgivings.
This project was one of the last of 2023 for House of Signs, and the company already has its eyes set on a productive and promising 2024.
“We’re starting 2024 pretty strong,” says Clukies. “Typically in history, the first of the year has been slow for us. December is a ‘crank it out’ month, and then January drops in business.
“But this year, it’s proving to be a little different, which is a good thing. We’re starting the year with a deeper pipeline than we have before, so we’re happy about that.”