View Full Version : Exterior Sign Substrate

Richard Magbanua
06-01-2011, 12:34 PM
Hello everyone. I have a job coming up for three 4'x8' exterior signs. The client wants to have their info on both sides. They will be taking care of building the frame and support for the finished signs. They suggested that I use one board with signage on both sides. They want to support it with a post on either side and a header on top. They don't want to use any support at the bottom. My question to you is what substrate would be ideal to use for this. I wanted to use alumalite but I'm not sure how strong one board would be in the wind with just a support on either end. With similar signs I've done I used two boards with the support between the two. I received a suggestion for 5mil Alumalite today. Any suggestions? Thanks for the help!

Scott Shepherd
06-01-2011, 7:55 PM
How are you going to make it? Vinyl lettering? Printed vinyl? MDO works reasonably well. it's a smooth, normally primed product. You can paint it and then letter it, or if you're doing a full vinyl piece, you can just apply the graphic to the primed surface.

1/2" thick MDO would be fine. If you plan to vinyl letter it, you might come out ahead buying a piece of aluminum clad plywood. It's 1/2" thick ply with painted aluminum sheets on each side. They come in a variety of baked on enamel colors. White, black, red, yellow, blue, etc. You just need the edge cap for that, which is sold by the same place that will sell the material. Seal the edges and put the edge cap on to do a nice, higher end job. The MDO runs about $50 a sheet, the painted about $100. So what's it worth for you to have to paint both sides of the MDO? $50? If we're doing a vinyl lettered panel, we almost always use the aluminum. If we're doing a 4' x 8' printed vinyl overlay onto the substrate, we would use the MDO.

Someone else might have better suggestions, but those have served us fairly well over the last few years. I just did 3 of them last week.

Joe Pelonio
06-01-2011, 8:48 PM
I agree, for this, the most durable would be the aluminum clad ply as long as the edges are well sealed. Laminators, Inc. sells the one I have used most, Lusterboard. On the other hand, that material will last 2-3 times as long as the vinyl lettering depending on the climate. In hot sunny areas vinyl lettering rated for 8 years will go 4, the aluminum finish will last 20.
Look also at alumalite, cheaper and much lighter, I have used it in this application with good results too.


Richard Magbanua
06-01-2011, 8:54 PM
Thanks Scott. This will be vinyl lettering over substrate. I may go with Aluminum. I may be short on time and would like to have the convenience of the pre-painted aluminum. I'll have to check on the alum clad ply though. Thanks!