What's the Best Material for My Sign?
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Part of the sign design process is to pick out which materials you’ll be using. And with so many to choose from, it can be quite a challenge to narrow down your options! Both indoors and outside, in temporary and permanent applications, there’s a huge range of materials you can use in your signs and graphics.
We know this can be overwhelming – so we’ve decided to provide a handy guide for you to use during your own creative process. Every material has its benefits and ideal uses, so read on and find out what will work best for you!
Digitally-printed fabrics are relatively new to the sign industry and are making a splash when combined with the use of digital technology. Fabrics for banners, awnings, flags and fine art, including canvases, are available. The uses for printed fabrics are virtually endless!
Wind mesh is fabricated with tiny holes in the fabric, much like perforated window graphics. These holes allow air to move through the material, virtually eliminating the wind damage that is often associated with traditional banners. The primary uses for wind mesh are street banners, building wraps and large outdoor applications. Since the material is see-through, wind mesh banners work well in storefront applications and as room dividers or screens.
Standard Calendered Vinyl
As an effective solution for most temporary outdoor, or even permanent indoor signage solutions, standard calendered vinyl is available in an assortment of colors and is typically rated for an outdoor life of three to five years.
Premium Cast Vinyl
More durable than other types of vinyl, premium cast vinyl conforms to irregular surfaces and will tolerate extreme conditions better than calendered vinyl. Cast vinyl is also available in a wide assortment of colors. They are typically rated for five to seven years of outdoor life and are the preferred choice for permanent outdoor signage installations, as well as for vehicle graphics.
Specialty vinyl enables the achievement of a distinctive image. Durability varies greatly, so make sure you're aware of the kind of wear and tear it will be exposed to before ordering.
A capable, yet economical sign material, the primary use for corrugated plastic is temporary signage. It can be used for more permanent indoor signage - however, other plastics such as PVC or acrylic are more durable and and likely more ideal for your needs.
Polystyrene is an economical option when you need more durability than corrugated plastic, but presentation value is not a concern. This material is a solid, white plastic that will not dent or crease easily. It will last almost indefinitely indoors, but will yellow only after a couple of months outdoors. The thicker stock is rigid enough to stand on an easel, making it a popular material for seminar show cards. Thinner stock is appropriate for signs that need to travel frequently, as it is flexible enough to be rolled and placed within a shipping tube or tradeshow display canister.
Foam PVC is ideal for use in permanent indoor applications that require an upscale presentation. It is not recommended for outdoor signage.
Used primarily for short-term applications, foam board is lightweight and rigid, making it an excellent choice for show cards. It is somewhat brittle and damages easily if not handled carefully. Foam board offers an extremely smooth surface that laminates well, making it a widely acceptable choice for mounting digitally-printed color graphics.
Acrylic is a durable material suited for almost any sign application. Indoors, it provides the upscale look demanded by image-conscious clients. Outdoors, it offers the durability and tolerance needed for permanent applications.
Polycarbonates, such as Lexan®, are clear, shatterproof plastics that provide more durability and more flexibility than conventional acrylic plastics. They are widely used for exterior sign faces, and are also frequently used for light box graphics.
Our marine grade plywood (MDO) will withstand the elements. It will last several years outdoors and is strong enough to serve as a freestanding sign. It is ideal for applications such as construction site signs, commercial leasing and sandwich board signs.
Aluminum is the perfect material for any permanent outdoor sign. Aluminum will not rust, and its tough enamel will not flake or peel like other painted materials.
Aluminum Composite Materials (ACM)
ACM combines the durability and professional presentation of aluminum with the strength and rigidity of wood. ACMs are stronger than solid aluminum sheets of similar thickness but not as expensive. They are ideal for free-standing signs that require a more professional presentation than offered with wood.