Why do signs cost so flipping much? That question gets answered once you get a chance to see what goes into the making of a sign. Anyone can make a sign that serves a purpose for a short period of time and costs very little. Remember the lemonade stand you had as a kid and the sign you made out of cardboard and markers, or paint. It served its purpose and worked fine for a time. If it rained, the wind kicked up or time passed, the sign quickly did not look so good and began to reflect negatively on the quality of the lemonade stand.

For a sign to look good the day it goes up, and still look good many years later, it needs to be fabricated out of the right materials. Acrylics, aluminum, auto quality paints, long-life bright LED’s, outdoor rated power supplies, fade resistant vinyl or printed graphics and proper assembly are critical to making a great sign. We’ve all seen the sign that was once red and is now a faded pink. Clearly that sign lost the battle with the sun. With the right materials, the sign colors can remain vibrant for many years.

Let’s get into some details about sign costs. You have a sign with a flat acrylic face. What will it cost to replace the face? Here is what’s involved: Technical measurements to ensure the sign will fit into the retainer system, designs created and approved, flat acrylic of the appropriate thickness to withstand wind and fit the retainer, cutting the material to the face size, printing digital images, applying the prints, working out any bubbles, and then applying a laminate to extend the life of the print. You can expect the cost for this sign face to be $25-$35 per square foot. But don’t forget the technical survey and installation with appropriate lift equipment will be extra. The survey and installation price will vary depending on the signs height, complexity, and location. Sometimes, instead of a flat face, a pan formed face is more appropriate. This is a more expensive option so you’ll pick it only if it is needed to accomplish the design, if the cabinet was built for a formed face, or because it is a large face that needs dimensional rigidity to sustain wind damage. The cost of a pan formed face is between 20% and 50% more than the acrylic flat faces, though the survey and installation would be about the same.

Instead of a box sign, you may like the idea of putting up a set of dimensional illuminated letters. These are commonly called channel letters and are found on the front of buildings or shopping centers. Channel letters are a great option and allow your message to be seen from a good distance. Once a design is agreed upon, the design files are converted to production files and used to generate letter shapes out of channel coil and cut the backs and fronts for the letters out of aluminum sheets. The channel coil is a thin painted aluminum, the back is a thicker aluminum, and the face is a milky white acrylic with applied colored vinyl. Inside the letters are powerful energy-efficient LED’s that, when hooked to a power supply, illuminate the letters beautifully! You can expect to pay between $10.00 and $15.00 per inch in letter height per letter for this kind of sign. Of course the technical survey and installations are additional and will vary depending on the complexity and location.

Hopefully, that gives you some idea as to how much a sign can cost. Contact an established sign company to discuss your project further and be sure and ask what materials they use to help your sign look good for years to come. No one wants a cardboard sign that only lasts until it rains!


Tim McCord 14.11.10 CROP Tim McCord / DāNite Owner