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Thread: Reflective stickers and concrete?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* John N's Avatar
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    Default Reflective stickers and concrete?

    I need some advice.

    Quick version: How to best adhere these stickers to concrete?!

    Longer version:

    In trying to figure out how to best paint my house numbers on the curb, I came across this custom reflective decal service by StreetGlo.net intended for boats.

    I really wanted reflective numbers, and in researching other retroreflective methods, it sounds like the only other decent option is glass beads sprinkled in paint. In researching that, it sounds like it is hard to get to look decent because it is hard to get an even coating.

    So I decided to go for it. I ordered up my numbers (Arial Rounded MT Bold in 4" font, FWIW) in white. This is pretty much a perfect replacement for the numbers that are there.

    Originally I figured I'd get some cement paint, like that you use to seal your garage floor, but it turns out Lowes' only has grey and I really wanted a very dark color for contrast. Being short on time, I decided to go with something I could get there. I grabbed some interior/exterior primer and some satin black enamel.

    So, today I've primed and put a coat of black on a rectangle that provides a 1" border around the numbers. If needed, I'll do another coat of black to get good coverage.

    Ok, so now the issue. How do I make sure the decals stick well to painted enamel? The concern is the concrete is rough and even though there is a fresh coat of heavy duty paint on it, the roughness might cause it not to stick well.

    I should mention a couple more details. The numbers are cut out of the material - that is to say, the decal is *just* the numbers, it doesn't include a border. Also, I peeled the backing away a little bit to peak at the stick-side and it is all silvery. I think it is basically the same material of the numbers that you can get at the hardware store -- something like this , with the exception that it is just the number and no backing (and I picked white letters, not black). So, this means it is slightly thin material. The curb is one of those curved ones, so the surface the stickers will be applied to is curved and will take at least some traffic.

    Here are the thoughts I have:

    1) Just stick it on and hope.

    2) Try to adhere it with something like clear silicon caulk. I don't know if this would stick or not.

    3) Try to adhere it with something like clear epoxy. I don't know if this would stick either.

    4) Try to smooth out the surface somehow. Not sure how to best to this in a sturdy way.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks!

    -john

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    only thoughts . . .

    real thick vinals seems to last longer than paints in the sun , mabey because of its thickness

    the $4 they charge to do it, when they come around is looking cheap about now huh :-)

    they have lit house address signs that are lasting lots longer than the paint on the curbs.
    you can drive them off a doorbell transformer, and have the transformer serve 2 purposes.
    (in CA it is now new house code to have lit house addresses)
    they come in a kit with the white light box, and black numbers.


    silicoln last a long time, might stick to Cleaned concrete well, especially with a vinal cap on it, but it wont stick to the vinal or a enamel paint as well.

    all glues on the back of stick on stuff would be practcally useless, not to mention they get loose in the sun.
    those vinal numbers you pointed out, stick very well on smooth surfaces, but still tend to crack and fail in the sun.
    great for mailboxes.
    but the reflective 3m type film, is still very brittle, and might just break if you even smashed it into the concrete to get it stuck down.
    and over time, they become even more brittle.

    a POST ? with the numbers on all sides?

    other than that a very well done THICK coat of glass bead or reflective paint , is the only things i see lasting a LONG time after thier applications.
    and the $4 deals dont nessisarily do it that well.

    DIFFERENT, instead of address markers, if your trying to get seen, be different, round red or orange reflectors at the end of the drive (as long as they dont look like the street or a runway :-)

  3. #3
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    affix the sticker to a piece of plastic sheeting (lexan? plexiglass?) and secure that onto the wall with screws.

    IIRC, glowinc.com has coarse glow in the dark pieces that can be mixed with concrete.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* John N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?


    I had also sent a query to streetglo.net asking for advice. The person answering had a lot of faith in the adhesive on their stickers and thought I could probably get by giveing it several coats of paint as a base to smooth it out and then apply the stickers directly. I'm going to keep moving in that direction, adding a couple more coats of paint and then re-evaulate.

    Thanks for your comments,

    -john

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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    How about construction adhesive? You know, the big
    calking gun tubes that carpenters use. Some of them
    should say they stick to paint.

    Greg

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* John N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    I'm more worried about how well it will stick to the adhesive on the back on the sticker. I think both silicone and clear epoxy will stick to the (painted) cement fine.

    I think Vidpro does point out an issue that I think will be key -- the 3M type reflective stuff, which I think this is similar to, itself is slightly fragile. I think this suggests that while it may stick OK, it is possible with a rough surface that it will break apart.

    I think this rules out silicone caulk as an adhesive because while it might stick, it allows squishing. The clear epoxy would probably be better because once it hardens, it will hold the shape. The construction adhesives I have seen have all been somewhere in the middle. Not hard like epoxy, but not soft like silicone.

    I was wondering about applying some clear epoxy to the curb and then putting some sort of flexible sheeting over it to "mold" it into a smooth surface. The gotcha is what? It would have to be something that the epoxy wouldn't stick to, like teflon. I can't think of exactly what.

    -john

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    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    I think you'd have to add *a whole lot of coats of paint* to smooth out a cement wall!

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* greenlight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    Maybe you could try affixing the stickers to a piece of plexiglass, or something else that could act as the backing. Then you would have a large surface to which you could apply generous amounts of adhesive.

    As far as glues, there are some new ones on the market, like Gorilla glue.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    ""I was wondering about applying some clear epoxy to the curb and then putting some sort of flexible sheeting over it to "mold" it into a smooth surface. The gotcha is what? It would have to be something that the epoxy wouldn't stick to, like teflon. I can't think of exactly what.""

    THIN layer of Pam or vegtable oil on the plastic would keep it from sticking to the epoxy, then you use ammonia to clean the oil off after curing. but normal epoxy will get brittle, and fall off.

    sand the concrete flat, you dont happen to have a diamond masonary sander do you?

    ahh i know, there is a metalic epoxy PUTTY, it comes in a round thing, and you mix the 2 putties together very well, like an epoxy, that would make a good bondo for concrete.
    let me see what that stuff is called.
    CarGo Quick Steel
    they sell it at automotive stores, wal mart automotive, and such. probably other "steel" epoxy putties too.

    the concrete would have to be VERY clean and dry , and unpainted still to stick.

    once you had it smoothed out, removing the old stickers Years later, would be easy to do, to replace it with a fresh sticker, like with volitle solvents, or a heat gun , but of course not both [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* chimo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    [ QUOTE ]
    greenLED said:
    affix the sticker to a piece of plastic sheeting (lexan? plexiglass?) and secure that onto the wall with screws.
    ........
    I think you'd have to add *a whole lot of coats of paint* to smooth out a cement wall!


    [/ QUOTE ]
    My $0.02:
    What greenLED said. Cut a piece of plexiglas the size of the numbers. Mount your numbers on the plexiglas. Use tapcon (or similar) screws to mount the plexiglas to the concrete. That way if you need to remove it, you can. You could substitute a sheetmetal product for plexiglas and paint the sheetmetal the same colour as the concrete prior to applying the decal if you want it to blend in or a contrasting colour if you want it to stand out.


    EDIT: I just noticed that this was for your curb. That will be a problem with the method above. They may get torn off by street sweepers/vehicle tires. You live in a rainy area so you want something that will not spall off. You could use a thin coat of epoxy on the concrete to seal and smooth it, apply the decals and then another coat of clear epoxy over your decals to protect them.

    Paul

  11. #11

    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    Or, for extra credit, trace the numbers on the plastic/metal and cut them out. Screw them to the concrete, and then apply the stickers.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* greenlight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    My neighborhood has a service that comes by and paints the numbers on the curb. For 15 dollars. Everyone does it here. Maybe you could start that kind of business in your area.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    I would think about using some sort of waterproof epoxy that is UV proof and paint/stick to it. I also like the idea of screwing a metal frame to the curb and sticking to it because when it needs replacing or repairing you unscrew it and fix it.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    Hi - I had this exact same material on my boat, and both installed it and later took it off by hand.

    A couple thoughts - the stuff IS brittle - it won't flex or conform to rough or irregular surfaces well at all, and once it breaks or punches through, it looks terrible. The adhesive on the back is surprisingly strong - once it's adhered, it's fixed, so you need to be cautious with installation.

    If I were doing this project, I'd go with the 'marine' theme - I'd go get some high-build marine primer from Interlux, or one of the other marine paint manufacturers, and put a half-dozen moderately thick coats on - enough to fill the holes in the concrete, and create a smooth flat surface, with only the natural curve of the curb. Sand between coats, once you've got the pores filled. (yes, I'm telling you to sand your curb.)

    I'd then continue to the gloss black hull paint - as long as you're going nuts on this, spend a few bucks and get the two-part paint with a catalyst - vastly tougher, and will last MUCH longer.

    Do three very thin coats of this, sanding between each coat, as instructed on the can. (Yes, more curb sanding!)

    At the end of this process, having spent a few bucks on the reflective letters, a few more on primer, and a goodly bit more on the two-part paint, you'll have a nice, glossy, tough and outstanding surface for your lettering.

    It's crazy, but you're already there, or you wouldn't be posting this question. 8^)

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* John N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Deanster said:
    It's crazy, but you're already there, or you wouldn't be posting this question. 8^)

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Isn't that the truth! :-)

    I kinda wimped out compared to Deanster's suggestion, but still did enough that most people will know I'm nuts. Well, here is what I did:

    1) Coat of one of those super primers on the cement.
    2) Two part auto putty, aka "bondo" applied to the curb.
    3) Sanded with random orbital sander.
    4) More bondo.
    5) More sanding.
    6) More bondo.
    7) More sanding.
    8) Brush on coat of flat black enamel (max contrast).
    9) Sand.
    10) Brush on coat of flat black enamel.
    11) Apply the decal.

    Done, in eleven easy steps!

    Lessons learned:

    I wimped out and used the "dry" method to apply the decal (just carefully slap it on), and as a result I did get some bubbles in it that I couldn't get out. I probably should have used their wet method.

    I started the process trying to hand sand the bondo. Too slow. Just jump to the power tools!

    I probably should have started out a little bit heavier on the bondo. This could have saved me a coat.

    I could have done a bit better job and come out with a smoother finish, but I was a bit lazy. Maybe next time when I try out Deanster's super paints! :-)

    Probably also could have used a third coat of enamel, but again.. lazy.

    The three part sticker thingy is very slick. Make sure everything is nice and aligned. By three part I mean the sticker has a backing on both sides. So, you take the bottom layer off, stick it to what you want (keeps aligned) and then peal off the top layer which is translucent for ease of placement.

    All in all, I'm happy with the way it came out. I'm still trying to decide if I should have clear coated it (was afraid to impact the reflective properties), but when it comes off, it should be easy to re-do. Just blast it with the sander, re-paint and slap a new sticker on there.

    Heck, I'll even try to find Deanster's cool paint products next time. :-)

    The reflective sticker isn't super reflective, but it does OK. The nice thing is by using the decal, the letters have nice definition to them. That is to say they look crisp.

    Ok, let's get to the point... Here's the pictures!

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    -john

  16. #16

    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    I actually think the Bondo solution is better than the 'primer' idea - it's a much better filler, and holds up great -

    The 'wet' application method is about the only hope of getting out bubbles in the stickers - Though the good news is that they'll sometimes work their way out, especially if the material gets hot in the sun.

    I'll be eager to hear about the enamel - true oil-based enamel is mighty tough stuff - I imagine it will hold up well.

    sounds like a good job!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    Quote Originally Posted by VidPro
    ""I was wondering about applying some clear epoxy to the curb and then putting some sort of flexible sheeting over it to "mold" it into a smooth surface. The gotcha is what? It would have to be something that the epoxy wouldn't stick to, like teflon. I can't think of exactly what.""

    THIN layer of Pam or vegtable oil on the plastic would keep it from sticking to the epoxy, then you use ammonia to clean the oil off after curing. but normal epoxy will get brittle, and fall off.

    sand the concrete flat, you dont happen to have a diamond masonary sander do you?

    ahh i know, there is a metalic epoxy PUTTY, it comes in a round thing, and you mix the 2 putties together very well, like an epoxy, that would make a good bondo for concrete.
    let me see what that stuff is called.
    CarGo Quick Steel
    they sell it at automotive stores, wal mart automotive, and such. probably other "steel" epoxy putties too.

    the concrete would have to be VERY clean and dry , and unpainted still to stick.

    once you had it smoothed out, removing the old stickers Years later, would be easy to do, to replace it with a fresh sticker, like with volitle solvents, or a heat gun , but of course not both [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
    You could try the Reynolds Release Aluminum Foil. I have yet to find much that sticks to that stuff.
    "LIFE………….is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming - WOW - What A Ride!" #3475

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* John N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    So far the enamel is holding up OK, but the stickers are getting their edges frayed. I think this application really needs a clear coat. The stickers are just too frail.

    I guess I'll probably leave it be until next spring, then re-sand, re-paint and try a new sticker but this time with some time of clear coat. Any suggestions on what I should use? Something really heavy duty.

    -john

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* Unicorn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    I'd guess some sort of clear epoxy coating, or maybe the fiberglass resin used on boats.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    whatever you use make sure and get a coat of something uv protective on top.
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  21. #21
    Flashaholic* greenlight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    Quote Originally Posted by John N
    [ QUOTE ]
    Deanster said:
    It's crazy, but you're already there, or you wouldn't be posting this question. 8^)

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Isn't that the truth! :-)

    I kinda wimped out compared to Deanster's suggestion, but still did enough that most people will know I'm nuts. Well, here is what I did:

    1) Coat of one of those super primers on the cement.
    2) Two part auto putty, aka "bondo" applied to the curb.
    3) Sanded with random orbital sander.
    4) More bondo.
    5) More sanding.
    6) More bondo.
    7) More sanding.
    8) Brush on coat of flat black enamel (max contrast).
    9) Sand.
    10) Brush on coat of flat black enamel.
    11) Apply the decal.

    Done, in eleven easy steps!

    Lessons learned:

    I wimped out and used the "dry" method to apply the decal (just carefully slap it on), and as a result I did get some bubbles in it that I couldn't get out. I probably should have used their wet method.

    I started the process trying to hand sand the bondo. Too slow. Just jump to the power tools!

    I probably should have started out a little bit heavier on the bondo. This could have saved me a coat.

    I could have done a bit better job and come out with a smoother finish, but I was a bit lazy. Maybe next time when I try out Deanster's super paints! :-)

    Probably also could have used a third coat of enamel, but again.. lazy.

    The three part sticker thingy is very slick. Make sure everything is nice and aligned. By three part I mean the sticker has a backing on both sides. So, you take the bottom layer off, stick it to what you want (keeps aligned) and then peal off the top layer which is translucent for ease of placement.

    All in all, I'm happy with the way it came out. I'm still trying to decide if I should have clear coated it (was afraid to impact the reflective properties), but when it comes off, it should be easy to re-do. Just blast it with the sander, re-paint and slap a new sticker on there.

    Heck, I'll even try to find Deanster's cool paint products next time. :-)

    The reflective sticker isn't super reflective, but it does OK. The nice thing is by using the decal, the letters have nice definition to them. That is to say they look crisp.

    Ok, let's get to the point... Here's the pictures!

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    -john
    You must have the nicest address numbers in the neighborhood. Or city, or state. If you ever have an emergency I hope they look for the numbers on the street and not just the tree that fell thru your roof or a wayward truck.

    Since you did all that work it would be nice to see the numbers painted with a pearlescent sheen, or some kind of color-changing scheme to impress the neighbors even more.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* John N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    Speaking of wacky effects, I was thinking of the following for an over the top effect:

    1) prime cement (no bondo)
    2) paint flat black
    3) mondo thick clear coat - something like that stuff they use for novelty furnature.
    4) apply sticker
    5) protective clear coat

    The idea would be to get the numbers to look like they were suspended in the clear.

    Well, since I've already bondoed, I'll leave this one for one of you to try! :-)

    -john

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* Lips's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reflective stickers and concrete?

    Liquid Nails adhesive works good on concrete. It gets into the grooves a dries very hard.

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