A paint facelift is just the procedure needed to restore a youthful glow to the landmark Hollywood Sign.
With its 90th birthday looming, the iconic sign is receiving its first extensive makeover in nearly 35 years, according to city officials.
Photos: Sherwin-Williams; Alex Pitt / Walkabout Pictures
|The painting project will help prepare the Hollywood Sign to celebrate its 90th birthday in 2013.|
Los Angeles-based commercial painting company Duggan and Associates Inc. is leading the operation, which involves completely stripping, priming and repainting the corrugated metal sign.
“Painting as we know it is not a very glamorous industry,” said Chris M. Duggan, owner, Duggan and Associates. “When you have an opportunity to paint a nationally known landmark, you jump at those opportunities.”
A cultural and historic landmark, the Hollywood Sign is the pride of its owner, the city of Los Angeles.
Hollywood Sign Trust, the non-profit outfit in charge of maintenance and upkeep, and the Cleveland, OH-based paint maker, Sherwin-Williams Company, are funding the $175,000 project for the benefit of the city and its Department of Recreation and Parks, as well as sign lovers around the world.
Built by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler in 1923 as an epic $21,000 billboard for his upscale Hollywoodland real estate development, the sign soon took on the role of giant marquee for the city, according to the Trust’s website.
The sign was intended to be installed only for a year and a half, but the beacon still shines strong along southern slope of Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills.
“To paint the Hollywood Sign is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge,” Duggan said. (The Golden Gate Bridge is also moving on in years; it celebrated its 75th birthday earlier this year and is also marking the anniversary with a paint job.)
Additionally, Seattle’s Space Needle landmark turned 50 this year and is currently hosting a roof painting design contest. Online voting is open until Oct. 20.
Sign Safety Concerns
The refurbishing efforts on the Hollywood Sign began Oct. 2, and will take approximately eight to 10 weeks to complete, according to Sherwin-Williams.
Duggan said his team of six painters will work one letter at a time on the steep incline, paying special attention to painters’ safety.
|The sign is four stories high and 450 feet long; each letter stands 45 feet high and between 31 and 39 feet wide.|
“We have been working with a local scaffolding/swingstage company to come up with rigging and barricades that will work for the project.”
The swing stages are similar to those used by window washers on high-rise buildings. The custom swing stages are 31 feet to 39 feet across.
“Painters’ safety is our main concern and has been thoroughly addressed with safety harnesses and secured safety lines,” Duggan added.
“As we complete the stripping and coating of each letter, we move the equipment to the next letter until all are completed,” Duggan said.
The sign is four stories high and 450 feet long; each letter stands 45 feet high and between 31 and 39 feet wide.
The stripping process will involve the use of a 100% biodegradable paint remover on each letter, to dissolve the existing coating, according to project documents. Once dissolved, the existing paint will be carefully removed, leaving bare, corrugated metal.
The naked letters will then be pressure-washed and primed using an estimated 110 gallons of Pro-Cryl Universal Acrylic Primer, manufactured by Sherwin-Williams. The water-based primer is recommended for use on surfaces where rust and corrosion resistance is crucial, according to the company.
|Last painted in 2005, the sign was coated with an elastomeric coating not suited for corrugated metal application, which caused delamination and bubbling, the painting contractor said.|
Then Duggan and Associates will use approximately 275 gallons of white Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex paint to finish the front of the sign.
The Emerald paint line is a recent addition to Sherwin-Williams’ portfolio, designed to provide superior resistance to blistering, peeling, fading, mildew and dirt pick-up. The product is also a zero-VOC formulation, even after colorants are added.
Emerald will “ensure the sign will retain its beauty for years to come,” according to Sherwin-Williams.
Also, the back of the sign will be scraped and sanded, then coated with the same primer and exterior paint.
Cause for the Operation
According to Duggan, the sign was last painted back in 2005, with an elastomeric coating not suited for corrugated metal application.
As a result, he said the coating bubbled and delaminated and did not adhere to the original coating applied in the 90s.
“Thus, we need to completely strip the letters to start with a … raw surface,” he said.
The primer and finish application underway should last at least 10 years before needing a recoat, Duggan added.
Small Job, Big Spotlight
Duggan noted that the Hollywood Sign job is much smaller than the company’s usual commercial painting, wallcovering and drywall projects.
“We are actually in the process of caulking and recoating the aluminum skin at the exterior of the Cedars Sinai Medical facility located here in Los Angeles,” he said. “This project is a multimillion-dollar exterior renovation of the complete hospital facility using a very specialized high-performance Tnemec coating.”
Still, the company doesn’t seem to mind the spotlight due to the sign painting.
“Los Angeles loves Hollywood, and even painting the sign gets tons of news coverage,” he said.