Express Sign and Graphics

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Do you have questions about how long your exterior sign will last?

There are no short answers to the question as there are many factors that determine how long a sign will last outdoors such as:

  • How much sunlight exposure your sign has
  • Is it an interior or exterior sign
  • What color sign you choose (red fades fastest)
  • What type of weather we have
  • How close to the road your sign is (salt and snow pile damage)
  • What type of materials were used to fabricate the sign
  • What brand and type of paint is used (we use Ronan, 1 Shot and Matthews paints which are recommended for signs).
  • Whether your sign is vinyl (premium or intermediate) or digitally printed
  • The elements (wind, rain, and storms can cause unanticipated damage)
Exterior Sign Channel Letters
Custom Exterior Sign

There are so many determining factors that we cannot guarantee exactly how long an exterior sign will last.

Although there we can provide you with a general idea of the lifespan of an exterior sign, there are many uncontrollable issues that can change that.    Our goal is to use the best product our clients can afford for their signs.

Obviously better materials such as aluminum, steel, or acrylic will have a much longer lifespan than materials such as corrugated signs or MDO.  We try to steer our clients to a sign that will provide them with the best return on their investment.


Signs are a marketing and advertising tool and should be valued for their ROI.

They are made to change as your business changes so that they represent your current branding, image and style. You should view your investment in your sign with projected ROI (return on investment) in mind.

If you spend $5,000 on a sign that will last 10 years, that $500/year of advertising expense for your business. Break it down further and it’s $41.67 per month over the course of 10 years for advertising that works 24/7/365. Not a bad deal.

One customer can spend that at a grocery store in one visit, at an attorney in 15 minutes, at a hair salon in one hair cut.  No matter how you slice it, your sign is a great investment for your business.  What other advertising medium works for you constantly at those rates?


Take the ROI example even further

Take the ROI example even further, and not only have you attracted that one customer per month, but you’ve made an impression on many more if you have an attractive sign. This enhances your product branding and your image so when those hundreds or even thousands of passersby think of your product, they think of you.

Even still, many of our customers want an exterior sign that will last them 10 or 20 years. Although it is entirely possible under the right conditions that an exterior sign will last 20 years, it’s likely the sign will not look as good after about 10 years or so.

Fading paint, and peeling vinyl, are unavoidable as your sign ages.  Being situated in New England where temperatures can be anywhere for 20 below to 100 degrees creates stress on all types of materials.  Weather can include wind, rain, snow, sleet, tornadoes and even hurricanes.

Take this past week for example…temperatures have fluctuated from 40 degrees to 75 degrees and back down to the teens weeks later. Under those conditions it’s difficult to know exactly how paint, vinyl, wood, metal or any other raw material will react. A good point of reference for how long a sign should and I say SHOULD last, is below.

Here are some general guidelines for how long exterior signs last:

Banners – 2-3 Years Outdoor for digitally printed banners, 3-7 years for vinyl banners. Wind, snow, dirt and other elements can pull out grommets, weather vinyl lettering and tear roping.

Vehicle LetteringPremium Vinyl Decals have a 9 year life, intermediate are 5-6 years. Digitally printed/laminated decals last 4-7 years before fading. Again, power washing, dirt, salt, and other external elements can shorten these time frames.

MDO (Marine Grade Plywood) Sign – 5-10 years depending upon the type of paint used, whether or not the edges of the signs have been eased to allow water to run off, and the install location. Again, sprinklers, rain, roof runoff and other water elements can reduce the lifespan of your sign.

PVC Signs – Depending on the thickness, installation method and use, PVC is a plastic and should not rot. However, if painted, the paint will only last 5-8 years depending on the install location (sun fades paint) and how you maintain the sign. PVC signs with digital prints should last 5-7 years before fading. Thinner PVC signs (1/8″) can crack in cold weather so are not recommended for A-Frames and other exterior signs that may be hit by rocks, debris, etc. Vinyl lettering again is 9 years for Premium and 5 years for Intermediate.

Aluminum – In general, aluminum should last 10-15 years. Again, paint finishes on aluminum are subject to peeling and fading. Thinner aluminum signs can also be dented or damaged by falling objects, rocks, etc.

Carved Signs on Wood or HDU – Cedar or redwood signs generally lasts about 8-10 years before you begin to see splitting and wear, HDU lasts about 10+ years. Again, the key to longevity on these signs in maintenance. Repainting as needed and keeping them free from dirt and debris will extend their lifespan.

Formed Plastic Letters and Metal Letters – Generally 10+ years before you start to see paint fading or the metal finish looking worn.

Lexan Sign Faces for Lightboxes – Generally 10+ years on the plastic, but it may begin to look yellow or faded after several years.

For more information on specific paints, substrates or sign types, give us a call and we will be happy to explain their uses, lifespan, and help you decide on the best sign product for your business.

Looking for a specific type of sign?

Don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ve been designing and building custom signs for over 2 decades. Our talented team will help promote your business in an efficient, beautiful way with custom signage.

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