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Selecting the Ideal Blasting Media for Your Restoration Project

Looking to restore your wood, brick, concrete, stone, glass or metal surface?

 

Media blasting is an excellent choice to restore surfaces that have been damaged due to rust, calcium deposits, fungus and mildew, graffiti, or fire and smoke. It’s a great way to strip paint or rust from car parts in no time at all. Media blasting uses pressurized air to blast tiny pieces of material (media) out of a nozzle at a target surface.

 

Choosing the right blasting media for your restoration project is an extremely important decision since the wrong medium can severely damage the surface you’re working on. The rule of thumb for media blasting is to use the gentlest abrasive possible with the lowest pressure necessary to get the job done delivering a smooth even finish on your target material.

 

When choosing your blasting media consider its:

  • Chemical composition,
  • Density,
  • Shape,
  • Particle size, and
  • Impact resistance.

Natural Media

When in doubt, it’s best to start with a gentle blasting media and work your way up to something more powerful. Pumice, corn cob grit, or walnut shells are cheap, environment-friendly, one-time use mediums. Any of these natural media are effective at cleaning fragile material.

 

Corn cob grit is the softest of the naturally occurring abrasives making it an ideal choice for cleaning and burnishing applications. Commonly used for jewelry, cutlery, engine parts, fiberglass and the removal of graffiti or debris from wood, brick or stone.

 

Aluminum Oxide

Aluminum Oxide is composed from small grains that have a block-like shape with hard angular edges. These long-lasting, sharp, cutting edges are very efficient at penetrating work pieces such as metals, glass, ceramic, marble, granite or other stone surfaces. It is a good media for fast etching and profiling jobs.

 

Aluminum Oxide is also a great material for stripping rust off from metals with minimal dust atmosphere. But because it can leave a coarse finish, it is not the best choice for work on automobiles and other vehicles.

 

Glass or Plastic Beads

One of the most versatile blast media available are glass beads. These small spheres of uniform size and hardness can remove substances from any base surface delivering a soft, smooth satin type finish with minimal stress.  It is well suited for stainless steel applications.

 

Glass beads can also be reused for up to 100 more blasting applications making them a very cost-effective choice.

 

Safe, clean and eco-friendly, bead blast is the most effective choice to remove fungus, and stubborn calcium and mineral deposits from swimming pool tiles. It also does a great job of removing old paint from automobiles.

 

Acrylic, polyester, melamine or urea plastic beads are also a great alternative for automotive media blasting, each offering varying degrees of hardness and aggression.

 

Silicon Carbide

A real workhorse, silicon carbide can tackle almost any rough sandblasting job successfully within a shorter blast time. It is the hardest abrasive blasting media available.

 

This very hard and sharp material is a good choice for difficult cleaning applications and is considerably cheaper than other blasting media. Silicon carbide is great for fast cutting applications and deep etching on stone, glass and other hard surfaces.

 

Steel Grit or Steel Shot

If you are looking for a special finish, the angular shape of steel grit makes it perfect for removing rust and paint from steel surfaces. Steel grit is commonly used in airless applications since the rounded steel shots produce limited dust.

 

Steel abrasive is a cost-effective media blasting alternative used on a variety of surfaces to effectively remove contaminants, texture a surface for proper adherence of a final coating, or in peening (hardening) applications. 

 

Call in the Experts!

The media blasting experts at SignLite have been serving the Waterloo area for over 40 years.

 

For a free quote on your restoration project, get in touch with us today!

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How to Choose the Perfect Sign for Your Business

 

Signs are a key part of branding any successful business. Your sign is your first opportunity to make a good first impression on potential customers, so it only makes sense to make it your best.

 

Crafting the perfect sign for your business does require some planning to get it right:

 

Regulations

The first step in deciding on the right style of signage for your business is to learn about what the local regulations will allow.

 

Cities, townships and counties all have by-laws governing placement and installation of retail signs. It’s a good idea to become aware of any permits you need, before you start. Nothing can be more disappointing than becoming excited about a sign design, and later having to remove it!

 

Provincial or territorial laws govern size and placement of highway billboards, such as pole height and distance from the road. If your building is leased, or if you are located in a shopping plaza or mall, you will need approval from your landlord.

 

Cost

A sign is an investment. It makes sense to get the largest size and the highest quality sign you can afford. Keep in mind, it is also the least expensive but most effective form of advertising. A well-designed, well placed sign can generate huge profits, especially when part of an overall marketing strategy.

 

Additionally, your sign should be low-maintenance and last a number of years. It needs to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week telling people who and where you are.

 

Design

The design of your sign should be a reflection of your brand and convey the kind of services you provide. Your sign communicates with passing pedestrians and motorists as an invitation to come through your doors and do business with you. The type of sign you choose should make it easy for anyone to find you, dar or night.

 

You'll need to consider shape, size, structure, and materials.

 

Signs can come in many shapes and sizes, as small as a countertop sign, and as large as a highway billboard, illuminated or not. They can be crafted from different materials such as acrylic, lexan, wood, metal or glass, each with their own set of pros and cons

 

To be effective, your sign also needs to be noticeable and readable.

 

Maintenance

How you maintain your sign will reflect the image you project to your potential customers. Some signs are cirtually maintenance-free, others - such as signs made from wood may need repainting or varnishing. The visual of an illuminated sign is second to none. Keep in mind that lighted signs may need light bulbs or tubes replaced from time to time.

 

For energy consumption, consider an LED retrofit. LED light offer superior illumination with lower operating costs. Contact us today for a FREE estimate.

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Why Outdoor Lighting is Key to Safety and Security

Lighting gives your company life at night.

 

But lighting is more than just aesthetics. Lighting provides necessary safety and security for your business.

 

It may seem like safety and security are the same thing when it comes to lighting. But safety and security are handled differently.

 

So, what is the difference? How is outdoor lighting key to both safety and security?

 

What does Lighting Provide?

There are a few more functionality related factors that having proper lighting plays a role in.

 

What does light do? It brightens potential dark spaces or hiding places. Visibility is crucial to maintaining comfort within your company.

 

Criminals are less likely to make advancements if the area is clearly lit and the lot appears safe. Similarly, at night animals come out. They are less likely to stumble upon your property is there are heavy lights.

 

Safety vs. Security

Safety is related to hazards on and around the area. Typical issues regarding safety could be:

  • Tripping and falling
  • Patches of ice
  • Potholes

When it comes to exterior lighting safety is considered vertically. This is important because the lights will point down on a horizontal surface and will reveal the ground.

 

Security is associated with noticing potential threats. This lighting does not stem from only being able to see the ground but also at eye level and around you.

 

For security, you need horizontal light that will reflect vertical surfaces. It will allow for people to recognize faces and bodies easily because light will be reflected off of them.

 

Depending on your needs, you may opt for more safety lighting or security lighting, but both are important to have. To create a comfortable environment for those associated with your business you must find a balance.

 

Why Placement Matters

A combination of each will provide appropriate light levels and provide a good design overall. Finding a compromise between both safety lighting and security lighting means that light both shines down and spreads out.

 

Ensure that high-traffic areas are well lit. Entrances and exits are frequented often so they should look and feel secure to both your employees and the outside world. Lights in these locations can make sure that visitors do not go unnoticed.

 

Uniformity is important for comfort. As we know, the human eye can adjust to varying levels of light. If the area is dark, we will adjust to that and so forth. However, what we can’t adjust immediately. Patchy lighting makes it difficult for our eyes to adjust easily.

 

Not only that but it helps people feel a greater sense of security because there are less areas in which are unlit.

 

One might think that it would just be better to have as many lights as possible of both kinds. However, unnecessary light would be both more costly and environmentally unfriendly. Additionally, too many lights can actually due harm by causing glares.

 

This is especially important for those who have camera security. Having lights near the cameras and where the cameras are pointing at will help make the image clearer. For unwanted guests, it can also discourage them from pursuing anything because they can see the cameras clearly.

 

The Importance of Maintenance

As a company, you should want to keep your property as safe as possible. Lighting is one of those safety checks.

 

Lights should be checked continuously to ensure all components are working properly. Any dimmed lights should be replaced, regular cleaning for brightness and repositioning from natural factors or weather.

 

Repairs should be taken care of throughout the year as the property needs. Things such as burnt out lights or revealed wires, should be fixed.

 

Additionally, there are regional litigations related to exterior lighting. According to the Toronto Municipal Code Property Standards, the following are the official by-laws regarding property exterior lighting:

  • Adequate artificial lighting required to maintain the level of illumination shall be provided at all times.
  • For parking lots, walkways, stairs, porches, verandas, loading docks, ramps or other similar areas, a minimum level of illumination of 10 lux at ground or tread level and at angles and intersections at changes of level where there are stairs or ramps
  • Exterior lighting fixtures and lamps shall be installed and maintained so that the work, operations or activities normally carried out can be undertaken in safety and without undue eye strain
  • All lighting fixtures shall be protected from damage and if necessary, to protect a lighting fixture from damage. Protective material shall be maintained in a clean condition.

Your property’s lighting should be maintained to prevent issues and maintain your site’s security.

 

Overall, the atmosphere of your company is changed when lighting is provided. People are more comfortable in and around your building and it discourages those who should not be there.

 

For more information about getting better lighting for your property see here!

 

 

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Media Blasting Vs Chemical Stripping

What is the best way to remove an existing finish? Are you cleaning or stripping concrete, wood or metal finishes?

 

The method you use will depend on the material you are stripping.

 

What is Media Blasting?

Media blasting is a surface restoration method that does a quick job of removing most paints and stains, rust, scale or gum from hard surfaces. It incorporates a blasting unit that projects compressed air with abrasive material such as walnut shells, corncob grit, sharp metal media, dry ice pellets or crushed glass at high speeds onto the surface.

 

The advantages of this system are that it is fast, cost-effective, and environmentally safe. Since it uses no hazardous chemicals it can be used safely in urban areas. There is little chance of water contamination since blasting media consists of organic materials or crushed glass. It does not change the PH balance in water or soil making it a 100% environmentally-friendly.


Our choice of blasting media at SignLITE is crushed glass. This recycled material is one of the most versatile general-purpose abrasives, gently removing layers of paint, grease, graffiti or rust without causing surface damage.

 

Though it is safe, media blasting is not a DIY project. Talk to an expert before you pick up a blasting gun yourself!

 

What is Chemical Stripping?

Chemical stripping incorporates chemical strippers to dissolve and remove paint, sealants, rust and grease. While the end result can be a beautiful smooth finish, it is messy, and can take a while. Most chemical strippers come in gel form, allowing them to stay in place and dry slowly. This is particularly useful for wood surfaces that include intricate carvings.

 

Apart from protective clothing, no special equipment is needed. While it may be user-friendly chemical stripping is not so kind to the environment. Most common chemical strippers are solvent-based and typically contain methylene chloride. Methylene chloride is a strong oxidizer, flammable and very reactive. Rubber gloves, long sleeves, mask and respirators need to be worn. Used clothing items, rags and any residue need to be safely discarded.

 

However, biochemical strippers based on oils from natural materials such soybeans, pinesap, or citrus trees are growing in popularity. Cleanup is with water and leaves a nice citrus smell. Newer blends of solvents keep safety in mind and will break down paints and resins leaving a clean dry finish with the no final rinse required.

 

There are many residential and commercial surface restoration applications for media blasting or chemical stripping such as:

 

Concrete, Brick or Stone

  • Cleaning stamped concrete driveways
  • Concrete floors
  • Exterior or interior brick or stone walls, or patios
  • Fire, smoke, water or mould restoration
  • Cleaning graffiti, gum & grease
  • Pole lights and pylon signs

Metals

  • Auto bodies
  • Marine
  • Heavy industrial, vehicles and machinery
  • Small industrial – brass, bronze, copper and aluminum

 

Wood Finishes

  • Log home restoration
  • Wood furniture or wooden structures
  • Historical buildings
  • Boat hulls

Get a Quote

Whether your project is large or small, it always a good idea to get a quote and even a test with before and after photos. At Sign LITE our media blasting services are the solution for environmentally safe and cost effective surface restoration.

 

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Best Practices in Parking Lot Lighting Design

 

 

You might not pay them much mind, but the bright lights hanging above parking lots are a major part of our urban landscapes. A survey by the Canadian Urban Institute counted between 1.4 and 2.7 million parking lot luminaires installed in Ontario alone!

 

Well-designed parking lot lighting makes life better for everyone: it lowers the risk of accidents and property damage while providing employees and customers with a sense of safety and security.

But great lighting design isn’t just about putting lights on a pole. Smart, effective parking lot lighting provides exactly the right amount of light in exactly the right location using as little energy as possible.

 

Here’s what you should know before you kick off your next parking lot lighting retrofit.

 

Guidelines and By-Laws

Before you get started, stop by your local planning department and inquire about the by-laws on commercial lighting. Most municipalities set the illumination requirement for large parking lots at 10 lux or 1.0 foot candle, but your locality could be different. You may also have to submit a site plan outlining your proposed lighting design.

 

For standards not addressed by local by-laws, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) provides guidance in the form of parking lot lighting best practices. The IES monitors and controls the standards and illumination guidelines in the North American lighting industry.

 

Quantity vs. Quality of Light

If your goal is to enhance visibility in the lot, simply replacing your current lights one-to-one with brighter ones might not be the solution. More light doesn’t necessarily equal better light. The quality of your parking lot lighting is just as important as the quantity.

 

More intense exterior lighting might increase visibility in one area, but it can also make it harder to see people and vehicles in the darker areas. Good lighting aims to decrease the contrast between light and dark areas and distribute light evenly across the space.

 

Colour accuracy is another matter. The colour-rendering index (CRI) measures how well a light source shows the colours of the objects it illuminates compared to natural light to a maximum value of 100. The CRI in your lot at night should be enough to allow people to pick out faces, clothing, vehicles and license plates. The standard value for parking lot lighting is 65.

 

Safety and Security

A well-designed parking lot creates a welcoming environment for shoppers and clients while doing the opposite for unwelcome characters. By allowing personnel and security cameras to keep watch, lighting deters property damage and other illicit activity.

 

This is another reason why lighting consistency matters: too much contrast or glare makes it difficult for people and surveillance equipment to properly observe the area.

 

Areas with high traffic (especially a mix of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, like crosswalks) do often require higher levels of light, but it is just as crucial to avoid glare and contrast in these areas. A lighting installation professional can help you select the proper luminaries and fixtures for the various parts of your property.

 

Light Trespass

It can be hard to sleep when it’s bright outside, whether the brightness comes from natural light or the neighbouring parking lot.

 

The intrusion onto neighbouring properties (known as light trespass or spill light) is preventable through good lighting design. LED parking lot lights provide superior directional lighting and less spill than other high-bay lighting solutions. For fluorescent, metal halide or high-pressure sodium luminaires, shields can be added to block the light in certain directions.

 

Additionally, high-bay lights should be mounted no higher than the buildings or trees at the perimeter of the property.

 

Energy Efficiency

One of the primary motivations to revamp a parking lot’s lighting system is to reduce its energy consumption. With the emergence of LED technology, property owners can see energy savings of between 30 and 70% just by switching their lots to LED pole lights.

 

Although ENERGY STAR does not certify parking lot lights or other high-bay outdoor lighting, you can gauge the relative efficiency of a parking lot luminaire by its DesignLights™ (DLC) Consortium designation. The DLC is a voluntary certification program that rates the efficiency of a variety of outdoor lighting products not covered by ENERGY STAR.

 

Lighting Controls

Energy consumption is power multiplied by time. Reducing consumption requires that you reduce either the duration the lights are on or the energy they consume.

 

Fortunately, modern lighting controls have made it easier than ever to control both parts of the equation. Incorporating lighting controls at the same point you select your luminaires can help you maximize the efficiency of your parking lot lighting.

 

There are several lighting control solutions available for parking lots, including photosensor-based (adjusting light level depending on the amount of sunlight) and timeclock-based (adjusting light level at a set time) systems.

 

Ask a Lighting Installation Professional

Good parking lot lighting pays dividends in safety, convenience and energy savings. We’ll help you design a solution that fits the needs of your property. Get in touch to talk about your commercial lighting installation today.

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Media Blasting Glossary: Terminology You Should Know

 

The term ‘media blasting’ encompasses a diverse range of methods and technologies. Although we here at Sign LITE specialize in on-site property restoration, people also use various forms of media blasting for metal finishing, vehicle restoration and more! Here’s a quick summary of the media blasting terminology you’ll encounter when it comes to our area of expertise.

 

Blasting Media

Blasting media, also known as the abrasive or grit, is the material used in the media blasting process. Media comes in many kinds of materials shapes and sizes, and choice of media can have a significant impact on the results.

 

Media is often categorized according to its shape, size, hardness and density. Organic materials like walnut shells and corncob are great for fragile surfaces like hardwood; sharp metal media like aluminium oxide is often used for heavy-duty cleaning and etching; smooth, rounded media like sheet shot is ideal for peening metal.

 

Recycled crushed glass is our media of choice since it delivers an even, clean finish and is suitable for treating a range of surface materials. Crushed glass is angular but not sharp, and it produces minimal dust. This material is also inert and non-toxic.

 

Blasting Unit

The blasting unit is the equipment used by an operator to project compressed air and media onto a surface. The set-up varies across industries and applications. For parts finishing and equipment restoration, operators often used fixed blasting units connected to a cabinet designed to contain dust.

 

Since we restore surfaces on-site, Sign LITE uses a smaller, self-contained media blasting unit that can reach locations up to 200 feet away from its power source. A portable unit consists of a handheld apparatus or ‘gun’ connected to a compressor, a hopper that feeds blasting media, and a power source. The operator can adjust the flow of air and media.

 

Interior Media Blasting

Interior media blasting is the process of cleaning an interior surface, such as concrete floors, brick walls or metal fixtures, using media blasting. In the hands of a trained professional, certain blasting methods can be used indoors safely.

 

Wet blasting using crushed glass media is ideal for interior media blasting, as it produces minimal dust and is non-toxic. 

 

Media Blasting

Media blasting, also known as abrasive blasting, is a process by which a material is projected at high speeds onto a surface. The material (media) is propelled by the force of compressed air, water, or a combination of the two. It is cost-effective and environmentally safe, employing recyclable materials and no hazardous chemicals.

 

We use media blasting to means to remove rust, scale, paint, graffiti, gum, or other damage or deterioration from hard surfaces. Different types of media are suitable for different jobs – we’ve found crushed glass media ideal for cleaning pole lights, pylon signs, brick, concrete and many steel surfaces.

 

Watch the media blasting process in action:

 

 

Sandblasting

Sandblasting refers to media blasting using actual sand as the blasting media. Although the terms ‘sandblasting’ and ‘media blasting’ are sometimes used interchangeably, it’s important to recognize the differences between the various methods. Sandblasting poses greater occupational and environmental hazards because it disperses silica; today, most contractors have moved towards safer alternatives like crushed glass as the medium.

 

Wet Blasting

Also known as hydro blasting, wet blasting is a media blasting method that produces less dust. Although it is not truly ‘dustless’, wet blasting significantly reduces the amount of dust by combining the media with water (either by moistening the media prior to blasting or dispersing water through the blasting nozzle).

 

Ask a Media Blasting Expert

Got a surface in need of a good clean? Contact the Sign LITE team for more information on outdoor and interior media blasting.

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Outdoor Lighting Glossary: Terminology You Should Know

Can you tell luminance from illuminance? Colour temperature from colour rendering? These are some of the terms you’ll encounter when it comes to installing outdoor lighting. Below, we’ve defined the must-know outdoor lighting terminology, including:

  • Brightness
  • Colour-rendering index
  • Colour temperature
  • Efficacy
  • Lumens
  • Glare

london skyline lights at night

 

Defining and Measuring Light

Brightness

Whereas luminance is an objective measurement of the intensity of light, brightness is a subjective perception of intensity. An individual’s perception of brightness depends both on the actual luminance of the light and the surrounding environment. For example, consider the optical illusion that presents surfaces with the same luminance against white and black backgrounds; though identical, these surfaces evoke different brightness impressions based on the surrounding luminance.

 

Colour-Rendering Index (CRI)

Colour-rendering index (CRI) measures how accurately a light source shows the colours of objects it illuminates compared to natural light. For example, the maximum potential CRI value is 100; the standard value for parking lot lighting is 65. CRI is important in outdoor lighting for spaces like car dealerships, where the colour of the products can have a significant impact on a customer’s decision to buy.

 

Colour Temperature and Correlated Colour Temperature

Colour temperature describes the colour appearance of a light source. With incandescent lamps and other thermal radiators, colour temperature corresponds with the actual temperature of the light source.

 

When it comes to gas lamps and solid-state lighting, where the temperature has no relation to the colour of light, colour temperature is measured by comparing the appearance to the light of a thermal radiator. The technical term for this is correlated colour temperature.

 

Colour temperature is measured in Kelvins (K). For example, the flame of a candle emits yellow light at a temperature of approximately 2,000 K; the filament of an incandescent bulb is yellow-white at 2,700 K; the sun at noon appears at around 5,000 K.

 

Efficacy

Efficacy describes the energy-efficiency of a light source based on the ratio between its luminous flux and power consumption.

 

Efficacy is measured in lumens per watt (lm/W). For example, a typical fluorescent lamp is 10 lm/W; a high-flux LED is 120 lm/W.

 

Lumen/Luminous Flux

Luminous flux, or lumens, describes the amount of light a light source radiates each second under standard conditions. It is among the most common (and commonly misunderstood) measurements listed in lighting datasheets and packaging. Lumens do not describe the colour or intensity of light; only how much light the source emits.

 

Luminous flux is measured in lumens (lm or Φ). 

 

Glare

Glare is an effect that occurs when the light is too bright compared to its background, light causing discomfort and reducing the ability to see. Though there are methods of calculating and predicting glare, glare it is also subjective; for example, senior citizens may have more difficulty adjusting to glare than younger viewers.

 

With consideration in lighting design, glare can be reduced and controlled through proper luminaire placement and use of cut-off fixtures and shields.

 

Illuminance

Illuminance measures the amount of light that falls on a surface. This measurement has largely replaced terms such as foot-candles, illumination value and illumination level. It is typically described regarding ratios of maximum-to-minimum and average-to-minimum illuminance in an area. Measuring illuminance is necessary to calculate other measurements like luminance and glare.

 

Illuminance is measured in luxes (lx), with one lux equalling one lumen of incident light per square metre of light-receiving surface. For example, a typical bright summer day is approximately 100,000 lux; an overcast sky would clock in at 5,000 lux; a living room may have 100 lux. One foot-candle is equal to 10.76 lux.

 

Luminance

Luminance measures the intensity of light emitted by an object or surface. This measurement can apply to light that emits from a lamp or luminaire or a surface that reflects or transmits light, such as a window or road surface. Usually, luminance is measured from the perspective of an observer looking towards the lighted area.

 

Luminance is measured in candelas per square metre (cd/m2). For example, an office desk might reflect 100 cd/m2 of a desk lamp’s light; a typical fluorescent lamp may emit luminance of 5000 to 15,000 cd/m2; the surface of the sun has a luminance of 1650 cd/m2.

 

Luminous Intensity

Luminous intensity measures the amount of light (the lumens or luminous flux) per second emitted in a specific direction.

 

Luminous intensity is measured in candelas (cd).

 

Watts

Watts (W) measure the amount of energy a lamp consumes to produce light. The lower the wattage, the less energy the lamp requires. With incandescent lamps, and a lamp with higher wattage produces more light; however, that is not the case with compact fluorescent lamps nor LEDs.

 

Types of Outdoor Lighting and Outdoor Lighting Components

Ballast

A ballast is a device that controls the electrical current used to produce light in a gas discharge lamp such as a fluorescent light. If the ballast fails, the lamp can overheat and burn out.

 

Bollard

A bollard is a type of lighting fixture that includes a short, ground-mounted post topped with a light source that is directed downward.

 

Driver

A driver controls the electrical current in a solid-state lamp, ensuring a consistent voltage level as the number of LEDs in the circuit increases or decreases. The driver will increase or decrease the voltage as necessary to maintain a constant current.

 

Fluorescent Lamp

A type of lamp that produces light inside a transparent, gas-filled tube. Each end of the lamp is sealed with an electrode: one positively-charged (the anode) and the other negatively-charged (the cathode). When the light is switched on, voltage travels between these two electrodes, and fast-moving electrons collide with gas molecules to produce light.

 

Fluorescent lamps are approximately eight times as efficient as incandescent lamps and last far longer.

 

Halogen Incandescent Lamp

A type of lamp that produces light by heating a filament inside of a gas-filled bulb. The difference between a halogen incandescent and normal incandescent lamp is a reaction between the halogen gas and evaporated filament material – part of the evaporated material returns to the filament, prolonging the life of the lamp. As a result, incandescent halogen lamps have a considerably longer lifespan than normal incandescent lamps, lasting between 1,000 and 6,000 hours of use.

 

Incandescent Lamp

A type of lamp that produces light by heating a filament inside of a bulb. Only 5% of the energy an incandescent bulb uses goes towards producing light, while the rest produces heat. Because of this, incandescent lamps are largely recognized as the least energy-efficient forms of outdoor lighting.

Since the filament evaporates over time, incandescent bulbs have a relatively short lifespan compared to other types of outdoor lighting, lasting around 1,000 hours of use at most.

 

Light-Emitting Diode (LED)

A light-emitting diode (LED) is a tiny microchip containing semi-conductive material that produces light by applying a voltage to an electrical junction. Different types of semi-conductive materials produce different colours of light, making it possible to produce a wide range of different colour LEDs. If the chip or cluster of chips is encapsulated in a bulb, it is an LED lamp.

 

Luminaire

The technical term for a light fixture or light fitting; in other words, the apparatus containing a light source.

 

Reflector

A reflector reflects, refracts, absorbs or transmit lights to efficiently direct the light emitted from the bare lamp. It may be a part of the luminaire or the lamp itself, or a component added separately during or after installation. Reflectors are important in the types of outdoor lighting that require precise light control, such as floodlights, spotlights and road lights.

 

Solid-State Lighting

Solid-state lighting is a general term for electronic light sources using solid, semi-conductive material. Light-emitting diodes or LEDs are a type of solid-state lighting.

 

Lighting Design Principles

Mounting Height (MH)

The vertical distance between the base of a pole and the luminaire; or the ground and the luminaire, in the case of a wall-mounted light.

 

Light Pollution

Light pollution, also known as an uplight, refers to light unnecessarily directed upward into the night sky. Excessive light pollution creates an unnatural glow that masks the view of the sky from the ground. Effective outdoor lighting design uses shields, hoods and other devices can reduce or eliminate skyward lighting.

 

Light Trespass

Light trespass, also known as a backlight, refers to light spilling into unwanted areas like adjacent homes or properties. It can be avoided through careful lighting design, including proper location, mounting and shielding of luminaires. Many cities have by-laws limiting the level of light allowed near property lines to reduce light trespass.

 

Ask an Outdoor Lighting Installation Expert

When it’s done right, outdoor lighting can boost visibility, increase safety and enhance the night-time environment overall. Poor lighting design, on the other hand, can result in excessive glare, wasted energy and complaints about light pollution and light trespass. Ask an expert on outdoor lighting installation before you embark on your next big lighting project.

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5 Cost-Saving Parking Lot Maintenance Tips

Maintenance matters, even when it comes to your property’s parking lot. Curb appeal is part of it, of course, but that’s not all. Potholes, puddles, crumbling pavement and dark corners can raise a host of safety issues that leave your business open to liability.

 

Parking Lot Maintenance

 

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few cost-saving tips that’ll help you keep your parking lot in impeccable shape.

 

1. Sweep it Clean

From the customer’s view, the state of the lot speaks volumes about your overall management. A tidy lot with good maintenance and beautiful landscaping shows you aim to please from the moment they step onto your property.

 

Start with a clean sweep, clearing leaves, dirt and debris on a regular basis. Not only does this make the property look neat and tidy, but it also helps you spot problem areas like cracks and oil stains. Next, get rid of crumbling parking curbs and barriers before they become a safety hazard. Lawn care is just as important – the parking lot will only look as clean as the green space that surrounds it.

 

2. Care for the Tarmac

Asphalt takes a beating here in Southwestern Ontario. It bears the brunt of UV rays, heavy rain, and snow, not to mention our love of 2-ton pickup trucks.

 

Over time, the combined forces of water, oxidation and fluctuating temperatures cause parking lot surfaces to break down. What starts as a small crack in the pavement will gradually bloom into migrating cracks, degrade the asphalt sub-base and allow potholes to form.

 

It pays to have these cracks filled and sealed before they have a chance to expand. Patching up holes on an annual basis is far cheaper than having to replace major portions of the pavement down the line!

 

3. Upgrade to LEDs

How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? When you’re talking overhead lighting, you might need more than your usual parking lot maintenance crew. The cost of replacing a burnt-out parking lot light is often greater than you would expect, especially if you have to hire outside help.

 

That’s the beauty of LED lights. Along with providing better visibility and using less electricity than halogen bulbs, LED lights have a much longer lifespan. They’re also impressively durable and weather-resistant, performing just as well in the dead of winter as they do in warmer months.

 

Depending on your existing parking lot light fixtures, upgrading to LED parking lot lighting could involve a straightforward retrofit or a more extensive installation. In either case, the fact that LED lighting requires less ongoing maintenance and uses less energy means fast payback.

 

4. Keep Your Lights Clean

While you’re contemplating an LED parking lot lighting upgrade, ask yourself: when was the last time someone went up to clean those fixtures?

 

Outdoor lighting accumulates mountains of dirt, grime, and insects. The dirtier they are, the less light they provide. By some estimates, cleaning your lamps can make them 20-30% brighter! That’s up to 30% more light for the same energy cost.

 

5. Eliminate Graffiti Fast

When a property sits unoccupied, it becomes a magnet for graffiti. Why? Because vandals know no one’s watching. How? They see that the last person’s graffiti hasn’t been touched.

 

Vandalism is contagious, and that’s why it’s crucial to stay on top of it. When someone tags your property, have someone remove that graffiti as quickly as you can. If it reoccurs, take steps to make your parking lot less appealing to potential vandals.

 

Be Vigilant

Just about every parking lot maintenance issue has one thing in common: the sooner you notice it, the easier it is to fix.

 

Potholes don’t happen overnight – a crack in the asphalt is much easier to repair than a full-blown hole. Graffiti does happen overnight, but if you scrub it right away, you’re less likely to find more graffiti the next day.

 

Preventative maintenance is key. Ensure that someone on staff inspects the lot from end-to-end on a regular basis, looking for small cracks, oil stains, standing water, graffiti, and dead lights.

 

Contact Sign LITE to tackle any preventative maintenance needs and keep your parking lot well cared for.

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3 Ways to Remove Paint, Oil Stains and Tire Marks from Concrete Floors

Concrete is tough, but it’s also porous. Without a protective topcoat like epoxy, a concrete floor will readily absorb paint, oil and other liquids several millimetres deep into its surface. Careless driving on a concrete surface can also result in tough-to-remove tire marks.

 

The good news is, it is possible to get most stains out of a concrete floor if you take the right approach.

 

remove stains from concrete flooring

 

There are several ways to go about removing paint, oil and tire marks from a concrete floor. For smaller stains, you can usually start with the low-tech approach and step it up if necessary; for tough jobs, you might want to bring out the blasting guns from the beginning.

 

Removing Paint from a Concrete Floor

The fresher the paint, the easier it is to remove. But even a long-hardened stain doesn’t have to be there for good. With the right tools and techniques, it is possible to remove paint from concrete’s porous surface.

 

Method 1: Media Blasting

Contrary to popular belief, it is safe to use a blasting gun indoors with proper choice of techniques and equipment and blasting media. Media blasting can completely remove large paint stains from a shop, garage or factory floor without damaging the underlying concrete. Though the process does leave behind some dust and residue, the floor underneath is a clean slate for sealing or re-painting.

 

Method 2: Floor Grinder

A floor grinder with a diamond grinding cup wheel can effectively scrape off the entire top layer of a concrete floor, including paint stains. For small stains, a hand-held angle grinder can also do the job. However, this method requires that you re-finish the area with fresh cement, as it will leave behind a rugged surface that will quickly accumulate dirt and debris.

 

Method 3: Paint Remover

Paint remover (or paint stripper) is a compound designed to remove paint and clean the underlying surface. Although some manufacturers have introduced non-toxic paint removers (such as soy-based gel products), most products on the market contain harsh chemicals. You should only use a chemical paint remover in a well-ventilated area while wearing safety glasses, rubber gloves and rubber boots.

 

Removing paint from a concrete floor using paint stripper is a surprisingly arduous process (you cannot simply pour it on and wait.) As a result, this method is best used for paint stains with a small surface area.

 

The basic process:

  1. Thoroughly clean the area with soap and water to remove any loose dust or debris. For stubborn dirt, use a stronger cleaner like trisodium phosphate (TSP).
  2. Remove any loose paint with a wire brush or putty knife and sweep it away from the area.
  3. Apply the paint remover. The correct type of remover depends on the type of paint in question; when in doubt, use an oil paint stripper.
  4. Let the remover to work its way into the concrete floor. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on how long to wait.
  5. Wearing protective gloves, scrub the stain with a wire brush or putty knife to remove the loosened paint.

Depending on the depth of the stain, this process may have to be repeated two to three times in order to completely remove the paint from your concrete surface.

 

Removing Oil Stains from a Concrete Floor

Forgot to put down a catch pan during your last oil change? It happens, and it’s not pretty. Oil is among the most stubborn stains to remove from concrete, but it’s important to do, because that oil can eventually seep back to the surface and ruin your next paint or sealing job.

 

Method 1: Detergent

If you notice the oil stain while it’s new, it may be possible to remove through the application of a strong detergent, warm water, a stiff brush and lots of elbow grease. Start by blotting the stain with a rag or paper towel to absorb loose oil (dab, don’t rub, to avoid spreading it). Next, apply a detergent and scrub the stain with a brush soaked in warm water. 

 

Method 2: Absorbent Material (Poultice)

A poultice is an absorptive material (like sawdust or kitty litter) saturated in a solvent (like acetone, xylene or lacquer thinner) that is placed on the concrete surface and covered in plastic wrap. Through the process of osmosis, the concoction breaks down the spilled oil and ‘pulls’ it out of the floor. It’s time-consuming, but it works, especially for small, fresh stains that haven’t had time to set.

 

Method 3: Media Blasting

For serious oil stains that have stood the test of time, media blasting is your best bet for removal. A blasting system uses pressured air (and water, in the case of wet blasting) to propel an abrasive material at the floor and strip off surface-level stains. Media blasting is gentle on the underlying concrete surface (which, though durable, is porous and easily scratched), making it ideal for property users who plan to paint or refinish the floor afterward.

 

Removing Tire Marks from a Concrete Floor

A driver came in fast and didn’t quite stick the landing; now, you’re stuck with tire marks on the floor. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be there for good. Removing tire marks from concrete is a simple task.

 

Method 1: Pressure Washing

If the concrete floor is rated for pressure of 4000 psi, pressuring washing is an option for removing rubber markings. Set the water to a pressure of 3000 psi and a temperature high enough to produce steam.

 

Method 2: Media Blasting

Passing over the floor with a blasting gun can take the tire marks right off. Since the rubber will not have penetrated the concrete as deeply as paint or oil, it should take only a light touch with a fine blasting media to remove tire marks from the floor.

 

Method 3: Degreaser

Soak the tire marks in an industrial-strength degreaser (available at most hardware or auto supply stores). After 10 minutes of soaking, scrub using a stiff-bristled brush. Clean the loosened rubber with a sponge and warm water. Be sure to let the area dry completely before parking on it.

 

Restoring Industrial Concrete Floors

Media blasting is an effective tool for restoring stained concrete floors to their original glory, but like any tool, it’s most effective in the hands of a professional. The experts at Sign LITE are happy to help when it comes to removing paint, oil or rubber from your concrete floor. Get in touch to learn more about our industrial media blasting services in Southwestern Ontario.

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3 Things All Buyers Look for in Commercial Property

What’s the number one thing buyers look for in commercial real estate?

 

Many would say the answer is location. There’s no denying that a property’s location is foremost in the minds of commercial buyers.

 

However, there’s more to location than a property’s address. Prospects will also ask questions like:

  • What is the cost of utilities and upkeep?
  • Does it look attractive and welcoming (and if not, what will it cost to bring it up to par)?
  • Is the property safe and secure?
  • Are there major repairs, renovations or replacements on the horizon?
  • Is the space accessible to our clients and customers?

Things buyers look for

 

With that in mind, here are a few key areas of improvement to focus on when it comes to preparing a commercial property for sale.

 

1. Exterior Condition of the Building(s)

When people visit the same location every day, they tend to turn a blind eye to its minor imperfections – things like graffiti, chipped paint, or a burned-out light.

 

It’s an effect called habituation. We stop noticing things we see or hear many times.

 

However, people who see the property for the very first time are bound to notice its flaws, especially those who are scrutinizing it as a prospective buyer. Even minor faults could raise questions about the costs of restoration.

 

Is it feasible to remove that graffiti, or will we have to paint over it?

 

What will it cost to strip and restore that rusted railing?

 

If the owner hasn’t bothered to replace a light, what does it say about their care for the rest of the property?

 

As a seller or manager preparing a commercial property for sale, you should endeavour to view the condition of the property with fresh eyes. Think of the impression it makes on someone seeing it for the first time.

 

Making a small investment in exterior repairs and restoration can go a long way when it comes to winning over buyers.

 

2. Cost of Upkeep

Energy expenses can be substantial here in Southwestern Ontario, even for small businesses.

 

Prospective commercial property buyers pay close attention to the efficiency and overall condition of any appliances, lighting, and other building systems that come with it. It counts as a strike against the property when the equipment is outdated or inefficient.

 

On the other hand, energy-efficient appliances and lighting can be a strong selling point.

Upgrading a property’s heating, cooling, and lighting systems can significantly increase its value and reduce risk in the eyes of a buyer.

 

Luckily, there are many rebates and programs in Ontario designed to help businesses become more efficient. For example, the Retrofit Program can provide funding for LED lighting retrofits and control systems.

 

3. Parking

It is clear why parking amenities are so important to commercial buyers.

 

Although alternative transportation is gaining in popularity, most of us still get around in our own vehicles. Outside the City of Toronto, over 80% of the population of Ontario commutes by car or truck.

 

It’s not enough simply to have adequate space for customers, clients and employees to park; the parking space must also be safe. Not only is a poorly-lit parking lot uninviting, but it could easily become a liability issue for the property owner.

 

That’s one of the last things you want prospective buyers to contemplate when they see your property.

 

Having a clean, brightly-lit parking area is a big point in favour of any commercial property.

 

Need Help Preparing Commercial Property for Sale?

SignLITE supports property owners and property managers on commercial restoration projects across Southwestern Ontario. Our services include professional graffiti removal, commercial sign repairs and restoration, LED lighting, other outdoor commercial and industrial lighting, and interior and exterior media blasting.

 

Contact us to get your commercial property in shape in sell.

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Danny Sullivan
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June 24, 2019
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