What material should I use for my business sign?

When you create a business sign, there are a number of key considerations. Firstly, what is the purpose of your sign? Where will it be located? What message will it contain? And what design and colour scheme will it use?

It’s also vital to know what type of material you will use for your business sign. The choice of material will dictate factors such as durability, visual finish, cost and suitability of the location. Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors.

business sign

Sign material types

There is a surprisingly wide range of materials from which to choose in commissioning a sign. For example:

MDO – These are impregnated plywood panels with a resin fibre overlay that is fused to the panel surface. This provides a durable finish that maintains its quality long after it has been painted. These are often used for traffic and highway signs and billboards. Wood is sturdy and doesn’t flex, but it will absorb water over the years, so is better treated to ensure that it doesn’t warp.

Aluminium – Available in a range of sizes and colours, this is used in a wide range of blank signs which can include anything from parking signs to estate agent signage. Since aluminium doesn’t rust, it is highly durable but it is also flexible and the mounting method employed should allow for this.

Stainless steel – Actually more expensive than aluminium by weight stainless steel Stainless has corrosion resistant properties because it contains chromium. It is also stronger and more likely to keep its shape than aluminium.

Alumalite – This aluminium composite doesn’t rot, corrode, swell or delaminate. It is rigid and offers a high gloss finish that lasts. These signs are used for laser printing, POS displays, hanging and wall mounted signs, laser printing, silk screening and the vast majority of exterior signage types.

Acrylic – This is often sold as plexiglass and is used heavily in high-end contexts where the finish must be good. Typically, it is used for light boxes and signage combined with lighting for a sophisticated finish. It is most commonly used indoors.

Magnetic signs – These are economical and easy to use. They are often used for menus and for car advertising.

Banners – This is a traditional type of sign that is coated and flexible. Banners are usually tied onto railings with the advantages that they are highly cost-effective and also very easy to relocate. Although they are not high-tech, they have stood the test of time and are enduringly popular with customers that have physical premises, from schools to sports grounds.

Choosing the right type of material

Ask yourself where the sign will be situated. If it is to be housed internally, a lighter, high-end finish could be suitable and the sign is likely to be smaller. You might choose Acrylic plexiglass, for example, to update a sign behind a reception with the company branding.

If the sign is to be used externally and in all weathers, then a more durable aluminium or banner sign could be the right choice, depending on your budget, siting needs and visual finish. The best way to choose the right sign material is to speak to your printer for guidance. The printer will conduct a site visit for larger sign pieces and determine the requirements for fixing and siting.

For example, there may be access considerations, in addition to health and safety factors. Permanent signage will also require that the underlying walls are tested for strength and suitability. There tends to be a cost for this type of site visit but it is nearly always redeemable against a subsequent order.

Other considerations

It is important to decide how often you might want to change the sign and to be clear as to its purpose. If the sign is to satisfy a functional requirement rather than catch customers’ eyes or encourage a sale, then a smaller, less expensive finish could be chosen to keep the budget down. On the other hand, if you are installing signage to catch the eye of passing footfall and to increase leads at your premises, then a more impactful business sign may be appropriate.

Start by defining your objectives, clarify your requirements, set your budget and speak to your printer for further advice and for the right solution that will bring your business the level of return you are looking for.