10 best material choices for outdoor signs

December 12, 2014

What types of materials can you choose from for outdoor signs? Find your 10 best options for making your business stand out.

For many businesses, signs are an important means of advertising and getting traffic to the store. So a lot of thought, effort and energy has to go into it or you time and money may be wasted. One of the first things you’ll want to consider is the type of material for the sign. And the first step is knowing what’s available.

10 best material choices for outdoor signs

1. Medium Density Overlay (MDO)

MDO is exterior plywood panels that have a resin impregnated fiber overlay andthat has been fused to the surface of the panel. The overlay virtually eliminates surface checking, and looks better, long after painting. Available unprimed or primed.

2. Typical MDO application

The typical applications of MDO are sign panels, linings, cabinets, highway and traffic signs, industrial shelving, site signs, furniture, containers and billboards.

The main advantage of wood is that it doesn’t flex so it's very sturdy in a post-and-panel application. The main disadvantage is that, being a wood product, it will soak in water over the years and begin to warp. MDO can be painted in any colour.

3. Aluminum

Aluminum is available in a wide variety of colours and sizes. Most coloured aluminum sheets are colour on one side, white on the reverse side.

4. Typical aluminum application

Aluminum is a fantastic outdoor material for signs. It won’t rust, it will hold up as long as any other sign material, if not longer. The only downside of aluminum is its flexibility. Because of this, it is a poor choice as a material to be bolted to two posts as wind may pull it down.

5. Alumalite

Alumalite is a strong, aluminum composite panel with a high density, corrugated polyallomer (CPA) core that will not swell, wick water, corrode, rot, or delaminate due to prolonged water exposure. The surface is .016-inch high-gloss painted aluminum. An aluminum surface is required on both sides for rigidity and to minimize warping. Alumalite featuresfactory baked, acrylic-painted aluminum faces for high gloss brilliance and is warranted not to crack, chip, flake, or peel.

6. Typical alumalite application

Alumalite is fast becoming one of the more popular products in the sign industry and in many cases, it is replacing MDO. This product gives the user the amazing outdoor durability of aluminum, with the rigidity of MDO, in a lightweight product.

7. Acrylic

Acrylic sheets are produced from a methyl methacrylate monomer and have outstanding physical, mechanical, optical, chemical resistant and thermal properties. Acrylic is often referred to as plexiglass and has a large variety of uses.

8. Typical acrylic application

Acrylic is most often used in lightboxes. Its translucent nature allows it to project light for just this purpose.

9. Banner

Banner is a nylon-reinforced vinyl material. Banner material is typically designed for graphics on only one side. Two-sided or “block-out” material is available for specific projects.

10. Typical banner application

Banners typically come in a max size of a 61-inch roll and can be easily cut down to whatever size you need. Larger sizes are available as a special order in most stores. Banners are one of the most popular types of signs, for everything from grand opening announcements, to event signage and even trade shows.

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