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775 Pacific Rd. Unit #35  Oakville, ON  L6L 6M4

Sign Materials That Stand the Test of Time

Winterberry Lane Outdoor Sign

When considering what type of business sign will hold up best to the elements, the difference lies in what type of sign material you use and the components from which it is made. Deciding the location of your signage will determine your sign type because a good-looking sign is made with long-lasting materials.

There are different types of materials that are suited to different purposes. While outdoor signs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, there are numerous materials that will suit most needs regardless of dimensions. The materials are used in a variety of conditions that make them not only durable, but have certain attributes that can make them perfect for a particular situation. As in other industries, there is a certain jargon used in the sign business that’s not commonly known to the layperson, such as the word substrate, which essentially means whatever material out of which the sign is being made.

The easiest way to classify sign materials is to describe them as either outdoor or indoor signs. This does not mean however, that a business must use the material exclusively as it’s described. Business owners might very well opt to put an outdoor sign material inside a restaurant and there are plenty who will use indoor sign materials for use outdoors. Using indoor signs outside is common because indoor signs tend to be a lot less expensive and they’ll hold up outdoors for an adequate amount of time.

Your exterior business sign should not only look good, but it should be made of materials that withstand the harsh weather conditions that it will face. It must be sturdy and tough to stand up to everything that is thrown at it, but the material used must be workable in order to keep the cost of making the sign down.

Regardless of the season, a commercial sign that reflects your business needs to appeal to the public and be resilient. Because there are so many outdoor sign material choices, it’s very tempting to get confused by the selection; however, each material presents its own unique advantage.

Different Materials for Different Needs


The old-standby wood has one major distinction. The main advantage of wood is that it is relatively cheap and durable when treated correctly and wood can last for years. You can do many things with wood, such as carving, burning and shaping it into many forms to suit almost every outdoor requirement. However, if not treated properly, it can warp, rot and deteriorate over time.


Today’s plastics are lightweight and hard-wearing. Plastic does not succumb to the same negative effects of harsh weather conditions like wood or even metal, so it is a great choice for an outdoor sign. Plastic comes in many colors and can be molded to any shape you desire, but it can react badly with certain types of solvents. Also, many plastics melt when exposed to extreme heat, so where the sign is positioned requires some consideration.


Metal is a hard-working material that can last for decades. It can be molded to suit any purpose and painted in an array of colours to suit your business. Metal’s one main drawback is that it is susceptible to weathering, but for some that is also its charm. Also, metal signs can be very costly. However, aluminum will not rust, is lightweight yet sturdy. It is the ideal choice for real estate and traffic signage.


Acrylic provides a high-quality gloss finish that comes in a variety of colours. It is extremely durable and versatile. It is primarily used for long-term signage both indoors and outdoors, such as illuminated signs, wall directories, permanent retail and trade show signs.


Banner signs are made from a strong and versatile nylon-reinforced material that is highly weather resistant for short or long term use. It can be cut into any length or dimension because of its strength and it comes in many colours to meet your needs.


Signs can be made out of just about anything, however each type of sign material generally has its pros and cons.  When deciding on a sign type, not only should you factor in the durability issues, you should debate what the sign material might do for your business image as well.  For example, if you were trying to project a modern image, a wooden sign might not be your best option.  We, at About Signs can discuss further options of sign materials, along with what signs are popular in your neighbourhood.  We have created hundreds of signs all across Burlington, Milton, Hamilton, Oakville and Mississauga.