Choosing the Right Substrate for Your Sign
Beginning this week, we will be posting blog articles about the many different sign materials we use. There are so many substrate options for interior signs, exterior signs and even banners. In an effort to help our customers with determining the right material for their sign project, we’ll explore a new product each week. This week we will discuss using PVC for Signs.
Using PVC For Making Signs
This week we’ll begin by talking about PVC or, Polyvinyl chloride. Wikipedia has a detailed description of PVC, specifically they mention that it is “cheap, durable, and easily worked”. Unlike the PVC used in pipes and even clothing, sheet PVC used for sign making is a very durable formed flat sheet. PVC boards are available in a variety of thicknesses including 1/8″, 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″. Most commonly PVC is available in 4′ x 8′ sheets, but some thicknesses can also be available in 4′ x 10′ for larger projects.
Can You Cut and Shape PVC?
We can cut and shape PVC signs using a saw or router. PVC can be cut into sign shapes, sign letters, or logos and it can even be carved like wood or High Density Urethane (HDU). Unlike wood or HDU. With PVC, you do see the pores of the material when it is V-Grooved. However, priming and painting often fills these pores so they are not really visible on the finished sign product.
PVC is a very durable material for carved signs. It will never delaminate, rot or split like wood. Because PVC is porous you can make a thicker material without the additional weight and cost of thicker wood or HDU.
Vinyl is another form of PVC that is a plasticized PVC that is very thin and can be cut using a plotter…but that’s for another week!
PVC offers an exceptionally smooth surface which is ideal for applying digital graphics. This is why we use it for many of our Site or Project signs. It allows us to create up to a 4′ x 8′ sign with full color graphics that is durable and fast to manufacture. It requires no painting unlike MDO or wood and makes turning around a quick job easy for us.
Although many public projects have painted MDO noted in the Specifications books, we often swap this for PVC material and it is accepted by the project owners.
Can you Paint PVC?
PVC is also great for painted and shaped signs as well. Once painted, you can not tell this difference between PVC and wood. It does however offer a longer lasting product as it cannot rot or split. In some cases, in the hot sun, a long thin PVC sign between posts or on a wall could present a problem with warping if it is not carefully mounted to prevent this. It is also highly recommended that both the front and back of a painted PVC sign be painted as the drying paint on one side only could lead to warping issues.
For mounting our PVC signs, we use many of the same methods as we do for a wood sign. Angle or flat stock brackets are a nice way to hang a wall sign without seeing screws in the face of the sign. For ground signs, matching PVC posts and caps are a great way to finish off your sign. Digital graphics printed on vinyl and applied to PVC, or Direct to Substrate printed are great for menu boards.
We also use PVC to make cut letters and logos. It’s a great option for Dimensional signs and because it offers several thicknesses, it allows us to make a distinct sign for your business.
One of the major down sides to PVC especially in New England’s cold winters is that when it’s cold, it becomes very rigid and can crack or break. We’ve seen this happen on parking lot signs hit by plow trucks. On the upside however, PVC is not subject to rotting in the ocean air like wood products.
So, although it does have some limitations, it is a great product for all types of signs. Knowing where and when to use it is what makes Express Sign & Graphics your expert sign company. With over 20 years of experience, we’ve done it all and have learned what works best locally.
For more information on PVC signs call us at 978-250-9890. Or stop by our store at 9 Kidder Road in Chelmsford, MA Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. We have lots of samples and our knowledgeable staff is always there to help you.