View Full Version : Exterior Grade Plastic Signage

Chris DeGerolamo
01-12-2017, 10:18 AM
Got a call from a customer yesterday asking if the signs we make would last 20-30 years in the field. Unsatisfied with the answer I gave, I reached out to Gemini and Rowmark for their answers...

Gemini offers a 3 year warranty on their exterior grade signage materials.

Rowmark offers a 2 year warranty on their exterior grade signage materials.


I've been making these things for much longer than 2/3 years and have never had a customer come back to say their signage has failed. What real life experiences do you have to share?

Keith Outten
01-12-2017, 11:23 AM
Solid Surface (acrylic) material will last decades longer then 30 years in exterior service. I prefer to use Dupont Corian, it engraves well and just about any paint will adhere to Corian. You can use a colored epoxy or Dupont's adhesive to fill an engraved area if that is what you need.

Dupont says that Corian will last 50 years in exterior service.

Kev Williams
01-12-2017, 12:03 PM
**Laserable** plastics like Rowmark's Lazermax will last a long time outdoors, however, the .003" thick top layer can wear down over time just from rain hitting it.

**Engraveable** plastics like Rowmark's Ultramatte on the other hand is nearly indestructible due to the much thicker top layer. Signage I made in the 90's for mining trucks that are exposed to corrosives and sandstorms are still in good shape. While the laserable plastics will tolerate most of the elements, sandstorms would likely shorten the lifespan big time.

Chris DeGerolamo
01-12-2017, 1:22 PM
So a point of clarification regarding the application: these are largely for solar farms, so they go on disconnects, transformers etc. I was under the impression that these types of materials (rowmark and the like) are/were industry standard. Case and point: I've got a solar farm practically in my backyard, been there since we bought the place. I drive by quite often and can view the signage from the road. They don't look like they aged a bit....been longer than three years that the site has been up.


Tony Lenkic
01-12-2017, 1:43 PM

Look at IPI lasertuff line. This material has a bit thicker top cap that should last longer than Lasermax or Duets with 0.003 cap.

I also agree with others than modified acrylic material will last much longer than 3 year as per specifications by mfg.

Ross Moshinsky
01-12-2017, 2:00 PM
What is their realistic expectation? "Lasting" 20-30 years means different things to different people. If they just want a sign that will still be a sign after 20-30 years that's a completely different story than installing a sign with the expectation of it keeping it's looks after 20-30 years.

Engravers plastic will last a long time, but keep it out long enough and the top layer will start fading and the plastic will start getting more brittle. Going with a solid material (Corian, acrylic, ect) you have to worry about the stresses of the material expanding and contracting but the more obvious failure point is the paint. Even using the best paints out there, you should expect to need to do at minimum a touch up after 10-15 years.

If the goal is making a sign that will last the longest, I'd price out the following: "DiBond" Engraved Anodized Aluminum, Corian, Cast Plaques (Aluminum will weather the best but oxidized bronze has a certain charm), King ColorCore, and aluminum backer + mounted acrylic letters (need to be careful what adhesive you use)

John Noell
01-12-2017, 2:50 PM
It obviously depends on the conditions. Here, in the tropics, and relatively close to the equator, the sun is extremely intense. Typical vinyl store front signs and posters fade in less than 12 months. Some LaserMax signs we did four years ago are still in use and clear, but they look faded and are no longer the least bit shiny.

Mark Sipes
01-12-2017, 6:39 PM
When I first opened my business 20+ years ago I put door panels on my truck made from Rowmark. White with black. Still good to this day... out side / car washes, weather. The maroon signs on the back shell windows have faded, but not to the point I would call it a failure.


Ian Stewart-Koster
01-13-2017, 6:09 AM
It depends very much on UV exposure, and which way the sun & weather comes from - as well as the product.

Interestingly when we had solar panels nistalled, the electricians put some red/white Rowmark type laserable signs on the switchboard.
Some have faded out to white/white in under 2 years, despite being NOT in full sun, while others in full weather look as new after 4 years as if they were installed yesterday. Must have been some mixed batches of material used that day in the shop!

On our ULS, the 'standard' laserable plastic in gold/black engraves and cuts pretty quickly.
The 'exterior' grade, or engraveable/routerable stuff takes about 8 times as much power, or only engraves and cuts at about 1/8 the speed as the standard stuff.