Metal Signs & Aluminum Signs
There are a lot of different options for metal signs and aluminum signs out there today, from the huge laser-cut metal letters often used in department stores to the familiar banners strung out over doorways during birthdays, holidays, and welcome celebrations. When it comes to getting a custom metal sign that will withstand the test of time, however, some of the best options are custom aluminum signs or custom Dibond signs. These signs are durable, customizable and meant to hold up under the even the toughest customer, making them an ideal choice for everything from listing hours outside a business, to a business sign with your company logo on it directing visitors inside.
Of course, figuring out whether this durable, long-lasting option is your ticket to recognition, ease of access and more requires understanding just how metal signs are made and to what they’re most suited, as well as understanding your own needs.
What uses are custom metal signs most suited to?
Metal signs are generally considered most appropriate for outdoor use, but the lightweight and versatile nature of the material makes them ideal for a plethora of different uses, with a few of the most popular being the following:
- Parking signs (handicapped, reserved, etc.)
- Store or business hours
- Unique business or facility requirement signs (identification, certification, etc.)
- Directional signs (indoor or outdoor)
- Safety signs
- Informational signs
- Real estate signs
- Business signs
- Room designations
- POP signs
The fact of the matter is, any sign that needs to last could theoretically be made from metal. The durability of this material simply can’t be beaten, and current crafting technology has all but eliminated the known limitations of using metal signage.
What materials are used in a metal sign?
Most metal signs are made out of high-grade aluminum or an aluminum composite, with Dibond being one of the best. A composite material is made with a combination of multiple different materials; in sign crafting, this usually means layering materials over one another to produce something greater than the sum of its parts. Dibond is made using two thin layers of high-quality aluminum, bonded to either side of a low-density polyethylene. This polyethylene layer makes it easy to custom cut the aluminum signs. This creates a material similar to the PVC commonly seen in children’s science projects and DIY crafting, with the added strength of metal in place of the heavyweight cardstock used in the paper variant.
Since Dibond isn’t just a single slat of aluminum, the result will be thicker than a solid metal sign while also being significantly lighter in weight and more resistant to bending and denting. Dibond signs can also be printed on both sides, while most solid aluminum signs are limited to single-sided printing. Dibond is available in multiple thicknesses, with .125″ as a standard—that’s about the width of a quarter and a dime stacked on top of each other—and .25″ available for thicker, heavier-duty options.
Note that thicker Dibond signs produce deeper shadows when the sign is mounted directly to a wall, making it more appropriate for signs featuring large lettering or oversized complex imagery, as the starker shadow allows the custom-cut pieces to stand out more against the mounting surface.
What size and shape can I order my metal signs and aluminum signs?
Because of the rigidity of Dibond, a metal sign can be cut to pretty much any shape or size. We offer metal signs as large as 5′ x 10′ in size, cut to whatever shape you need. Custom shapes mean the sky is the limit when it comes to designing your sign; stars and clouds are more common unique shapes, but it’s possible to take it a step further and use familiar silhouettes (maybe a wavy ghost for the Halloween season, the sharp angles of a pine tree for the winter holidays?) and really make a business sign your own.
It’s also possible to not just think outside the box, but to disregard it entirely! Individual letters can be cut to create a truly custom metal sign that gives even the smallest business the image of a consummate professional on-par with the biggest and strongest of the competition. Installation of these letter-by-letter signs can be a bit more difficult than a more traditional option, but the final result is well worth the extra effort! Complex typefaces can be cut out entirely or in brightly-printed silhouettes, allowing a level of personality and customization that just can’t be matched by traditional banner-style printing and cutting.
Are metal signs difficult to install?
Thanks to their heavy-duty construction, aluminum signs are easy to install with the right equipment. Any number of holes can be drilled into the material, making it easy to mount or hang the sign as needed. While Dibond is lightweight, it’s still best when hanging business signs overhead to make sure they’re secured using cable or cord with high tensile strength, with a minimum recommended support level of 50 pounds. For standard aluminum signs, the rule of thumb is that drill holes should be a maximum of 2 feet apart in order to properly support the weight of the metal; Dibond, being much lighter, can be spread out closer to 3 feet apart with the right hanging support system. If mounting your sign on the wall with screws, holes should be placed appropriately to support the weight evenly, but the distance between isn’t as important.
It’s even possible to hang smaller aluminum signs up on the wall temporarily using thumbtacks or a simple picture hanging kit, so don’t let the fear of a complex installation stop you from getting the kind of sign you really need to stand out.
As for signs cut into individual metal letters or images, installing these may require a little more equipment in order to keep the individual pieces level with one another, but when standard .125″ Dibond is used it’s easy to affix the finished pieces to a wall or other flat surface with high-quality mounting tape or an appropriate liquid adhesive. It’s a simple matter of measuring, leveling, and placement—and voila! You have the professional signage you’ve always wanted but never knew how to obtain. You can purchase liquid adhesive on Amazon.
What about print quality on my custom signs?
While many aluminum signs are created with the careful placement of layered decals and stencil work, we print directly onto the metal using a high-quality ink that is resistant to UV damage and fading for up to five years—the print will remain bright and vivid for years even when placed in direct sunlight. A metal sign’s lifespan is even longer when used indoors instead of outdoors, meaning names and information mounted in a lobby or hanging overhead in a retail location could stay crisp and vivid for up to a decade.
“Raw” Dibond aluminum, where the base metal is exposed without printing, using the material itself as the base for the color and design, will never fade at all.
It’s important to note that the quality of the print produced is limited only by the quality of the artwork provided, so make sure you’re using high-resolution images or vector artwork. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry—we’ve still got you covered.
Need help designing your custom metal sign?
If you’re like most people, the term “vector” sounds like something out of a science fiction movie rather than a graphical format appropriate for the print and design of custom signs. That’s where we come in: you’re welcome to provide your own artwork, but we’re here to help you design the sign of your dreams instead of just making due with whatever you were able to build in Microsoft Word. Every customer sign we help design is a labor of love.
High-resolution artwork is needed for photographs and illustrative imagery, preferably with a resolution of at least 200 pixels per printed inch. Unfortunately, when you get up to 5′ x 10′ signs, that leads to a massive file that’s all but impossible to pass off to the printer—you would be looking at a file over 10 thousand pixels across on the shorter end, and close to 25 thousand pixels wide on the long side! For large metal signs, it’s much easier and more efficient to utilize vector graphics or let us do it for you.
Vector graphics are symbols and images that are bound to their shape without regard for pixels. Like your favorite font in a word processor, vectors can be scaled up indefinitely without losing those crisp, clear lines and edges. Vector images disregard pixels per inch because that’s not how they’re designed, and that means they can be infinitely smaller in file size than their pixel-based cousins, otherwise known as raster.
Our professional designers are ready and waiting to turn every customer sign concept into a reality without blowing up your monitor or filling up your hard drive with graphical data. We can build a highly professional, fully customized metal sign printed from vector format graphics from the ground up. Why not see what we can design for you today?
Is a Dibond aluminum sign what you need?
It would be easy to say that, when it all comes down to it, the answer is probably “yes.” If a sign needs to look professional and last more than a week or two, chances are aluminum signs are a close to an ideal option. However, there are other factors at work beyond the form and even the function of a sign. Custom aluminum signs are lightweight, but depending on the design they can be cumbersome and difficult to transport as they aren’t collapsible in any way. Custom signs in this material are designed for permanent or long-term repeated use without a lot of travel and relocation. There are exceptions to this rule (Dibond lettering looks amazing on a good A-frame sign), it’s important to keep in mind when choosing the right material for you.
If you want something sturdy and still fairly portable, as long as you’re not concerned about being able to fold up your sign for easier transportation, then standard-weigh Dibond aluminum signage is probably your best bet. If you need something that is going to stand out for the next big trade show, there’s nothing quite like a huge .25″ thick aluminum sign! Just remember that it has to fit into the trailer when you head back.
Looking for a custom sign that is less expensive and great for a one time use? Check out our Foamboard Printing page.
Do you have any questions about custom metal signs? Don’t be afraid to talk to our team about your business needs today!