What is the Best Material for Outdoor Signs | Printmoz

What is the Best Material for Outdoor Signs

Big corporations, small businesses, charitable organizations, sporting organizers, governments, and individuals use signage to communicate, inform, and inspire. At last count, there are (roughly) a zillion uses for signs in nearly as many different places. There are many sign materials, but outdoor signs face challenges like wind, rain, UV exposure, and dark nights. These factors, combined with your specific needs and intended sign location, help determine the best material for your outdoor signs.

Types of Outdoor Signs

Although all outdoor signs contend with the elements, the weather does not interact with all outdoor signs equally. The air release vinyl sign on the side of an 18-wheeler is out in all types of weather. But it does not contend with wind from all directions the way a flag or a banner mounted on an iron or chain link fence does. Then, too, some outdoor signs are intended to be permanent, while others will be used for just a few days. Before determining the best sign material for outdoor signs, you need to know what your outdoor sign will need to do.

Some of the most common outdoor signs are:

How to Choose the Outdoor Sign Material?

There are so many types of outdoor signs and sign materials you’ll be able to choose one that performs beautifully in your circumstances. To determine the best sign material for your outdoor signs, consider the following factors:

  • Weather - Not only does the weather in southern California differ from that of upstate New York, but a temporary sign for summer has different needs than one for winter. What elements will your outdoor sign face?
  • UV Exposure - UV radiation from the sun can fade the colors and otherwise damage a sign if you don’t choose the right sign material for the conditions where the sign will be displayed.
  • Lifespan - How long do you intend to use the outdoor sign? There’s no need to invest in permanent quality materials if your event is done in a few weeks.
  • Cleaning, Repairs & Replacements - All outdoor signs eventually need cleaning or repairs.
  • Cost - Consider your budget, and invest in the sign material that best suits your specific needs for the sign.

Keep these considerations in mind as you evaluate outdoor sign materials.

Best Materials for Outdoor Signs

Some of the best outdoor sign materials include:

vinyl banner

Vinyl

Vinyl is undoubtedly the most versatile sign material, popular for many uses indoors and for outdoor signs. Vinyl banners are popular for temporary signage, outdoor welcome signs, window clings, floor decals, and vehicle graphics.

pros

Vinyl Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Low maintenance
  • Weather-resistant
  • Flexible
  • Ease of installation and removal
  • UV LED inks used for fade resistance
  • Easy to clean
  • Double-sided printing available
  • Magnetic vinyl signs and vinyl window clings can be moved or repositioned with ease
cons

Vinyl Cons:

  • Less long-lasting than aluminum
  • Flexibility can be an issue in windy areas — consider wind slits or a mesh banner
  • Must be held taut with visible mounting
vinyl mesh banner

Vinyl Mesh

Vinyl mesh banners were developed specifically as outdoor sign material. Unlike traditional vinyl banners, mesh vinyl allows the wind to pass right through the banner.

pros

Viny Mesh Pros:

  • Airflow-friendly design

  • Durable

  • Flexible

  • Low maintenance

  • Weather-resistant

  • Ease of installation and removal

cons

Vinyl Mesh Cons:

  • Images and text are not bright but more muted

  • Printing is slightly more expensive than conventional vinyl

  • Printing only on one side

aluminum signs

Aluminum

Aluminum has long been favored for long-lasting and highly durable outdoor signs like street signs and business nameplates.

pros

Aluminum Pros:

  • Durable and strong — lasts for years

  • Can be permanently attached to posts or walls

  • Low-maintenance

  • Weather-resistant

  • Fade-resistant

  • Rigid

  • Easy to clean

  • Rigid material may be cut into any shape and displayed from a single post

  • Recyclable

  • Scratch-proof

  • Double-sided printing available

cons

Aluminum Cons:

  • More expensive than vinyl or vinyl mesh

  • Reflective surface can cause glare — brushed aluminum outdoor signs solve the glare, giving a rich appearance. But it is more prone to scratches and can be printed on one side only.

acrylic sign

Acrylic

Acrylic is another outdoor sign material with a lot to offer. Also known as plexiglass, acrylic signs produce exquisite results for turning photos into indoor wall art.

pros

Acrylic Pros:

  • Sturdy and durable

  • Weather-resistant

  • Translucent

  • No glare

  • Rigid

  • Easy to clean

  • Shatter-resistant

  • UV resistant

cons

Acrylic Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Prone to scratches and dents

  • Difficult to repair

backlit film sign

Backlit Film

Backlit film signs are the most glamorous of all outdoor sign materials. These illuminated box signs are lit from within by LED or fluorescent light bulbs. These signs glow in the dark, providing exceptional visibility in the dark, but they also have excellent visibility by day.

pros

Backlit Pros:

  • Incomparably elegant presentation

  • Exceptional visibility at night

  • Studies have shown the visibility of internally lit outdoor signs far exceeds that of externally lit signs

  • Printed films are easy to change out on the lightbox

  • Durable

  • Weather-resistant

  • Easy to clean

  • Energy efficient

cons

Backlit Cons:

  • Cost of lightbox

  • Cost of installation

  • Cost of maintenance

dibond sign

Dibond

Dibond is an aluminum composite with a PVC center, making lightweight and sturdy outdoor signs.

pros

Dibond Pros:

  • Durable

  • Weather-resistant

  • Doesn’t fade

  • Rigid

  • Double-sided printing available

cons

Dibond Cons:

  • More expensive than vinyl

  • Cut edge appears black

  • A bit less rigid than aluminum

pvc sign

PVC

PVC is another excellent material for durable outdoor signs. Lightweight and rigid, PVC signs’ durability makes them easy to reuse.

pros

PVC Pros:

  • Inexpensive

  • Weather-resistant

  • Durable

  • Rigid

  • Double-sided printing available

cons

PVC Cons:

  • Heavier than other options

  • Prone to chips

  • Difficult to repair

Choosing Outdoor Sign Material

As you can see, the key is to choose the best sign material for your outdoor sign.

Please contact Printmoz, your one-stop shop for outdoor signs, if you still have questions. We’ll be happy to assist you in making the right decision. Give us a call at (877) 287-0059, email us, or connect via live chat for information.

We’ll make your outdoor sign stand out!

Frequently asked Questions

There are many different signs that can be used outdoors. Some signs can be outside temporarily and some are made to stay outside in any weather condition. One of the most durable outdoor signs is dibond. Dibond is actually made with two slices of aluminum material. Aluminum would be the next most durable sign for outdoor use. Parking lot signs are almost always made with aluminum. Metal signs are a great choice for outside use, but plastic signs are a close second. PVC/Sintra signs are not only a strong outdoor sign but they look great in both white and black. A bushed aluminum sign looks really classic. Coroplast yard signs are the go-to sign for real estate needs. Lightweight and heavy duty, they excel when it comes to outdoor use at an affordable price. 
If you want to boost business, you have to catch the eye of your potential customers. If they keep seeing the same banner over and over eventually they will no longer notice it. That's not a good thing. You need to not only change up your design but also change up the sign type as well. If you are constantly using the same size banner, try changing it up with a 15' tall flag banner. Or even a Sidewalk (sandwich board, A-frame) double-sided sign. If you are using a foamboard or Gatorboard menu inside, try a retractable banner stand or X stand banner
Usually the sign that gets the most amount of attention is a sign that has movement. A waving flag banner that is blowing in the wind usually attracts attention. But you don't want it moving so much that people can't read it. A sign holder who holds a sign on a street corner gets a lot of attention. If they can dance around with the sign, but you are still able to read it, then that's a great sign holder! Foamboard, gatorboard and PVC all make great signs for this and they can be cut into any shape or size. A backlit film sign in a lightbox has light to it so it will attract a lot of attention, most at night. 
If you don't have a graphic design program, start searching for free online product templates so you can get some quick ideas. With templates you can edit almost any part of the design, images or text. If you are okay with starting from scratch, you can do that with a free online Design Tool. A Design Tool will let you select the product you need in the size you want with the options you prefer. You can then use the Tool's editing features to add text, images or artwork. You can even change the background color or image. You can also use any one of the thousands of FREE Stock Images located within the design tool! 
Pop up events and farmers markets are usually held at an offsite location for one or two days. You need a sign that can be set up quickly. If you already have a canopy or EZ-up stand, you can quickly hang a vinyl banner or mesh banner with just some rope, zip ties or bungy cords. If the area is going to be wind-free that day, then an X banner stand is an easy and lightweight option. Otherwise you will have to tie the X banner stand down. Another really good option if you have the room is an A-frame sandwich board sign. You can make these signs double-sided and attract potential customers from all directions. 
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