Sign Materials

Discussion of different types of sign materials and substrates

How to pick the best sign substrate for you

There is a wide variety of sign substrates/materials that can be used for your sign.  It is important that you weigh up all the factors before choosing a substrate for your sign.  The facts that you need to take into account should be:

  • How long you want the sign to last;
  • How much you are prepared to pay for a sign;
  • Weight of the sign;
  • Does the sign need to be erected with or without a frame, depending on the size and type of substrate;

Common sign substrates:

  1. Corflute

  2. Vinyl banner material

  3. Sign white – colourbond – metal sign

  4. Aluminium composite panel

  5. Aluminium sheet

  6. Acrylic sheet – Perspex – hard plastic

  7. Weathertex – wood signs

Corflute Signs

Corflute comes in 2 thicknesses – 3mm and 5mm.  The 3mm will support its own weight at around 900mm x 600mm for a short time only.  The 5mm will support its own weight 1.2m x 1.2m for a short time only. 


  • For short term projects like real estate signs, it is well priced and is an ideal product for this industry.


  • Short term product – up to 6 months
  • Not UV stabilised and will break down in the sun
  • The construction of corflute – as the name suggests, looks like corrugated cardboard, and with images applied  to the surface, you can always see the corrugations.

Vinyl banner material

This substrate is well priced and with a Kevlar rope edge, will allow the banner to be slide into sail track and will allow the banner to be pulled out tight without any wrinkles and will look like a flat panel.


  • Solvent based digital printer can print directly onto this material – making it more cost effective
  • Printed in long runs – up to 50 m long and up to 3.2m high.  This will eliminate the need for a join.
  • As long as the digital print is overlaminated with digiclear, you could expect this to last approx. 3 years.
  • Lightweight
  • Reasonably priced
  • Sign can be removed and taken to new premises, or repositioned


  • Once it needs to be updated, you would need to get a whole new vinyl banner, as you cannot reprint over the old sign.  Even if there is self adhesive vinyl applied to the banner, it is not possible to remove the vinyl and reuse the banner in an economical fashion.
  • If Digiclear overlaminate is NOT applied, the white areas on the banner will start to brown
  • 3 years is about its longevity as it does break down with sunlight

Sign white – Metal sign

This is a great versatile product.  It comes pre-finished in white, which you can either paint, apply graphics or signwrite directly to the panel.  It comes in 1.2m x 2.4m.

Special considerations:

  • It will require a frame if you want it to span reasonable distances.


  • Long lasting – approx. 10 years +
  • Durable
  • UV stable
  • Recyclable
  • Cut into various complex shapes


  • Reasonably heavy
  • Quite expensive to purchase the product and install as you may need more than 2 installers.
  • It has sharp edges
  • Large signs will have joins

Aluminium Composite Panel

It is available in 1.22m x 2.44m sheets and can also be purchased at 1.22m x 4.88m


  • Extremely versatile and light weight
  • Self supporting over a larger area than sheet metal and is much lighter than sheet metal
  • It is more ridged than sheet metal
  • It is available in many prepared colours and finishes.
  • 20 years + durability of the sheet
  • Cut into various complex shapes
  • Well priced
  • Recyclable
  • Easy to cut


  • None

Acrylic Sheet

Comes in 1.2m x 2.4m.  it is great looking as it has a high gloss level.

Special considerations: 

It is a far better internal product than external product.


  • Cut into complex shapes
  • Nice appearance
  • Sheets are available in many thicknesses between 3mm and 20mm.


  • Quite heavy
  • Expands and contracts a lot on the sun
  • It will deteriorate over time in sunlight
  • It will star/craze in 5-6 years and will become outdoor
  • Expensive


Weathertex – wood sign

Not widely used any more as it is too heavy, too expensive and doesn’t last.  

November 2, 2011

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