Straight Answers on Sign Substrates
If the choice of what backing material confuses you, well it should because the choices are unlimited. This time, instead of straight answers, you want substrate answers. Therefore, I have comprised a list of information on the most used backing to help ease the decision making process.
FOAM BOARDS • Such as Foam-X, Ryno and Gatorfoam are lightweight and rigidity; virtually all are formable. For example: Gatorfoam can be used to fabricate the “tin man” as seen in the “Wizard of Oz.” Foamboards are available in stock or custom colors. Stock thickness run from 1/16″ – 1/2″. Some are offered in thicker dimensions as custom sheets. Gatorfoam, for example, is available in 3/16″ – 1 1/2″ thickness and with a good quality pigmented water base coating or other U.V. barrier and proper support to avoid bowing, Gatorfoam can have exterior exposure for long periods of time and show little change in either the face or the core. The cost is approximately $90.00 for a 1″ thick 4′ x 8′ sheet.
RIGID PVC FOAM PANELS • Such as Sintra, Trovicel, Celtec, Viacom, and Komacel have numerous desirable qualities for signs and displays. PVC sheets can’t delaminate, the colored stock is homogeneous throughout the thickness of the material. Also, the density of moderately expanded PVC foam is quite great, therefore, these sheets can be drilled, screwed into and otherwise treated like wood. Foamed PVC material is also formable as are foam boards, however, PVC materials advantage over foam boards is it’s formability using local heat sources. PVC sheets such as Celtec brand are available in thickness from 3mm – 13mm and in 4′ X 8′ sheets. They too can be ordered at a custom size. The price of the 6mm or 1/4″, 4′ x 8′ sheet is approximately $72.00. The price of the 13mm or 1/2″, 4′ x 8′ sheet is approximately $158.00.
SIGN FOAM • A relatively new medium is a unique, molded, high density, urethane foam panel. The physical properties of sign foam makes it a viable substitute for wood, marble/stone, concrete, fiberglass, and metal, yet all at substantially lower fabrication cost. Sign foam is available in 15# and 18# density. A 1″ thick, 15# density, 4′ x 8′ sheet cost approximately $324.00. While a 1″ thick, 18# sheet cost approximately $324.00. While a 1″ thick, 18# density, 4′ x 8′ sheet cost approximately $372.00.
MDO BOARD • An exterior grade plywood panel with a smooth surface and an opaque brownish colored surface. It can either be used for background panels or individual letters. MDO board thickness range from 3/8″ – 1/2″. The average price of a1/2″, 4′ x 8′ sheet is approximately $56.00. As you can see, in addition to the usual, concrete, aluminum, sandblasted redwood, carved wood and sheet metal, there are many other sign options available. Therefore, it is good to get an understanding of what backing material is best to use to ensure long lasting durability for years to come.