Overcoming Overhead Obstacles

August 11th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

By Mike Butler

If you want to take on a decorative project, but are hesitant, don’t be. Here we will take some time to explain our process and help share ideas and even some obstacles we had to overcome. Maybe this will help you on your next decorative project.

The job was a canopy at a suburban Atlanta school that had a twin-wall plastic awning. The awning was broken down into long strips about 2 feet wide by the full length of the structure. It took approximately two days to install with two more days in the office for preparation.

The architect decided on three of our colors that were cut into a leaf pattern repeating throughout the canopy. This gave the appearance that leaves are falling and gathering on the roof. The colors were mainly Morning Blue but with a bit of Midnight Blue and Fire Red for contrast.

The first obstacle was that the installation was to be on a plastic surface in an exterior environment. This forced us to apply the colors onto a clear pre-laminate made for plastic surface applications. Plastics and Plexiglas tend to give off gases which would eventually affect the adhesion of the colored films.

The laminated colors were then cut on a plotter with a 2-degree blade, weeded and separated, and ready for install.

For this installation we brought two Little Giant ladders for their ability to fluctuate their height easily. Since we did all the prefabricating in the office we were basically left with peel-and-stick using our typical soap and water solution and squeegee, so both installers had a layout with them so they could accurately place each leaf to match the design.

Shortly after arriving, we realized the final product of the roof didn’t actually match the design, bringing us to our second obstacle. The whole bottom most section of the layout must have been removed. This meant we had quite a few extra pieces since it was in the high clustered area. We decided to relocate the dark blue and red that would have been cut off because these are the more noticeable pieces.

We then came across another problem. The seams where the plastic panels met were not flush; this would cause the film to not lay flat or collect water and lift up. We cut the inter-panel pieces to get the film to lay flat but the shift was too large and it didn’t look good. We decided to keep them whole and fight the lift until they dried. Fortunately, there was a cap on the top so rain could not get into those gaps.

We also came to realize that wherever two pieces of film overlapped, it resulted in a bit of a lift that needed to be pushed down a few hours after initial install or even the next day. The framing system wasn’t too bad to trim around and some would even allow for the film to be slid under.

All in all, it was a relatively simple process and the results speak for themselves. We went from a plain translucent covering to a colorful, stimulating piece of art.

Mike Butler is vice president for Solar Graphics Designs Inc.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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