The truth is not all vinyl banners are alike. Sadly, the quality often depends on where you shop for your custom vinyl banners and whether or not you have taken the necessary steps to inspect your banners prior to printing. That said, a vinyl banner's overall design makes them extremely durable. Nevertheless, the old adage is true that you get what you paid for. As a result, if you want a high-quality vinyl banner, you definitely will need to spend a few bucks. In addition to paying a little extra for a great custom banner, there are a few telltale signs that will let you that you have a quality banner on your hands.
Quality vinyl banners offer a durability and usability level that cheap or poorly made vinyl banners simply cannot match. A well-made custom banner will easily pass a quick durability test. If this is your first time comparing the overall quality of custom vinyl banners, i.e., you have never had the opportunity to test the material used to create your custom vinyl banner, there is no need to panic.
One of the easiest ways to test the quality of your banners' vinyl material is to fold it. Of course, you should never fold your actual custom vinyl banner when it is time to store it. But, in this instance, when you do fold the material, it should quickly return to its original state/shape. A cheap or poorly made banner will crease or wrinkle. Note, folding your printed banners is not advised, as this can lead to long-term damage.
Gloss or finish level
Another telltale sign that you have a well-made vinyl banner on your hands is the level of gloss or finish. Vinyl banners with printed design graphics require more of a matte finish. A matte finish is better for printed design graphics because a high gloss finish tends to obscure or distort the finished product. As a result, you should make sure your vinyl banner has a low gloss level (look at your vinyl material at a 45 to 60-degree angle to see if your banner has the recommended gloss level of less than 10).
Opacity when double-sided
Along those same lines, if you are investing in double-sided vinyl banners, make sure that your banner has a high level of opacity. In other words, if you are adding a design to both sides of your banners/vinyl signs, then a well-made banner should have a certain level of hiding capabilities. If your banners/vinyl signs are poorly constructed/cheap, you will be able to see through them.
The thickness of your material used for your banner is also another way to tell the difference between a poorly made banner and one of exceptional quality. With that said, there are different types of vinyl banners, such as your standard outdoor banner or a vinyl mesh banner for indoor window displays. Consequently, you need to determine if the thickness of the material is right for your intended purpose. Moreover, large banners (4 x 6, 4 x 8, 4 x 10, etc.) might be made of lightweight material, and thus the correct thickness may not be a clear indication of the quality.
In contrast, well-made banners/custom signage should be relatively smooth regardless of its intended purpose. That said, cut vinyl for graphic signage needs to be smooth. In fact, a great banner/well-crafted vinyl sign should actually be smooth for both screen printing as well as digital printing processes. Here, you can quickly tell if the material for your signage is up to par, with a simple feel test.
The necessary hue
Moreover, you can quickly tell the difference between a well-crafted banner and a cheaply made banner by looking at your signage's underlying hue. In general, signs made from vinyl material either have a yellowish-white or blush white shade. Outdoor banners that are of the utmost quality should have a blush white undertone. If you notice a yellowish-white undertone that is perfectly acceptable for screen printing signage. However, if you have digitally printed banners/signage, then you should be concerned. Note, double-sided signage should have a white hue on both sides for an optimal outcome.
Ask the right questions in the beginning
It is also important for both the customer and the printer to ask the right questions early on. You both need to be on the same page about your intended purpose and desired outcome for your banner/signage. Furthermore, if you plan to hang your sign outside versus indoors, make sure you go over that with your printer and any other last-minute changes before the printing process is complete. Other crucial things to discuss include how you plan to secure or install your signs, applicable ordinances, expected shelf life, and your overall budget.
Ultimately, you want your banner or vinyl sign to be well-designed and made right the first time. Consequently, you need to be actively involved in the banner/signage making process from start to finish. This is honestly a great way to ensure that you get what you paid for and that you are not disappointed when your signs are delivered the next day. At the end of the day, selecting the right banner material for the job and thoroughly going over the particulars with your printers will ensure that you have the best custom banners.