Sign Materials

The difference of your sign may lie in the actual Sign Materials from which it is made.

In this section, we’ll describe many of the most popular sign materials, where they can and should be used and their durability. Each material has certain features and benefits that can make it perfect for a certain situation.

Like any industry, the sign world has a certain jargon of words that aren’t commonly known. Most people in the industry use the word “substrate” – but it really just means whatever material out of which the sign is being made.

Outdoor vs. Indoor Sign Materials

It seems to be easiest to classify sign materials as “outdoor” and “indoor” sign materials. This does not, however, mean that a customer cannot put an “outdoor” sign material inside his/her restaurant, for instance. On the other hand – you’ll see plenty of “indoor” sign materials for use outdoors. This is mostly because they tend to be much more inexpensive, and they’ll hold up outdoors for an adequate amount of time.

Unless otherwise noted, each product is readily available at a 4’ x 8’ size and can be cut down to any smaller dimensions. Please see your Signs By Tomorrow representative for options at larger sizes. 

Visit our Indoor Solutions section for all your custom indoor signage & graphics needs 

Outdoor Sign Materials

Exterior plywood panels that have a resin impregnated fiber overlay and that 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.

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

The main advantage of wood is that it doesn’t flex and therefore, is very sturdy in a post-&-panel application. The main disadvantage is that, being a wood product, it will soak in water over the years and begin to warp. You can help prevent this by having your SBT Representative treat the edges. A great choice is an End Cap product that clips around the sign and appears to be a very attractive frame. MDO can be painted in any color.

Aluminum is available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Most colored aluminum sheets are color on one side, white on the reverse side.

Typical Aluminum Application
Sign blank material for many applications both interior and exterior, including license plate blanks, no parking signs, and real estate signage.

Aluminum is a fantastic outdoor material. It will not rust – that is the nature of aluminum. It will hold up as long as, if not longer than, any other sign material. 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 would be seen on a site sign.

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 features factory baked, acrylic-painted aluminum faces for high gloss brilliance and is warranted not to crack, chip, flake, or peel.

Typical Alumalite Application
Post and panel signs, hanging signs, wall mounted signs, multiple panel signs, point of purchase displays, cut-outs, kiosks, laser printing, silk screening, canopy fascias, and most other types of exterior signage.

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.

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” or “Plexiglas” and has a large variety of uses.

Typical Acrylic Application
Acrylic sheets are used extensively in aquariums, architectural interiors, office accessories, security bubbles, bathroom panels, furniture, glazing, greenhouses, hockey rinks, housewares, instrument & machine guards, POP displays, transportation and noise barriers.

Acrylic is most often used in lightboxes. Its translucent nature allows it to project light for just this purpose. Acrylic is also often used for high-end, sophisticated signage. You’ve probably seen acrylic behind the receptionist’s desk at an office – maybe it’s been black in color with the company’s gold logo on it. In this case, it is used because of its high-gloss, high-end appearance and not for its outdoor durability.

Our magnetic products are completely waterproof and flexible and are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

Typical Magnetic Application
The typical applications of magnetics are vehicle signs, menu boards, hobbies, point of purchase displays, crafts, and promotional magnets.

Magnetics are most often used as advertising on vehicles. According to the Transportation Advertising Council, advertising on a single vehicle garners between 30,000 and 70,000 impressions daily! This makes vehicle wraps an economical and efficient form of advertising in the world.

Magnetics come on a 24” white roll. They can be color-coated to virtually any color required. Magnetics are not recommended to be bigger than 2’ x 2’ in order to hold onto a vehicle at speed.

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.

Typical banner application
Banners typically come at a max size of a 61” 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.

Indoor Substrates

PVC & Polystyrene
The PVC product is a good solid substrate and can be used for any indoor (or limited outdoor) purpose. High Impact Polystyrene sheet is produced from high grade extrusion type monomers. The sheets have good toughness, and environmental stress crack properties. A rigid material that resists dents and cracking, it accepts pressure-sensitive vinyl films, screen inks and digital imaging.

Typical PVC & Polystyrene Application
These products can be used in a high variety of interior sign uses. Polystyrene is very similar to PVC in its durability and cost. PVC comes in the standard 4’ x 8’ sheet, while Polystyrene is typically available in a 2’ x 3’ sheet.

Impervious to most stains, oil, grease and fingerprints and easily wiped clean with a damp cloth. Often referred to as Polysignboard, this product is ideal for directional signs, political signs, point of purchase signs and posters and displays.

Sho-Card (Polysignboard) comes in 22”x28” and can easily be cut to size. Typically, it is the least expensive product available and not a good choice for outdoor applications for any length of time

Coroplast is corrugated polypropylene with a limited exterior life. Coroplast readily accepts pressure-sensitive vinyl graphics, screen inks, and digital images. Mount in frames, on stakes or using Step-Stakes.

Typical Coroplast Application
Coroplast sheets are used extensively for indoor and temporary outdoor signage, display panels, real estate & election signs, shipping containers, packaging, and architectural modeling.

Coroplast is a very popular product and is often used in conjunction with Coroplast Stakes for yard signs and sponsorship signs, or any other free-standing, inexpensive sign. The dual thickness of coroplast allows the user to score halfway through the sign and fold it down upon itself, presenting a smaller sign to carry, that can be unfolded into a much bigger sign.

To see more visit our Inspiration Gallery to see more of our sign materials and products we have produced for our client nationwide.