Sign Materials and Substrates most communally Used

Sign companies use a wide variety of sign materials and substrates to make your custom signs. Sign substrate is what we either print on or place an image on to erect your signage. This is the material that is specially made for sign making. This gives your sign a long-life span. There are many specialty vinyls that are used to give you anywhere between one to 10-year life span on signs. We use a special UV protection lamination.

Types of Materials and Substrates

Corrugated Plastic or Coro

In the sign industry, we call this coro or coroplast. This is a great material mainly used for short-term signs and promotional signs. This is an excellent choice for election signs, lawn signs, construction signs, directional signs, building projects, real estate signs, and many more. We are one of the only companies that use American-made corrugated plastic for signs.

There are many advantages to using corrugated signs. COROPLAST SIGNS

  • Easy to place
  • Easy to replace
  • Lower cost than other types of substrate
  • Has a high-quality look to it

Negatives of Using Corrugated Plastic 

  • Gets brittle over time
  • Swells in heat
  • Can break in the cold
  • People take sometimes to use in their own projects, like yard sale signs

PVC Polyvinyl Chloride Smooth Plastic

PVC aka PVC signs is lightweight but very durable and rigid. This is a great indoor and outdoor medium-term sign. We use this a lot with restaurant menu boards, menu boards, trade shows, point of purchase, and directional.

Here are the pluses of using this material:

  • Come in a variety of thicknesses.Plexiglass-and-Acrylic-401x400
  • A smooth surface makes printing high quality
  • Can be single or double-sided
  • This is ideal for interior use

Disadvantages of Using PVC 

  • Outside use is great but gets brittle in cold temps
  • Must be mounted carefully, if screwed in you must be careful not to over tighten

Styrene or Polystyrene

High Impact Polystyrene or HIPS is an easily printed constant material that comes in either a matte or smooth finish, can be double-sided. This product comes in sizes up to 4’ x 8’ sheets. We are able to cut it down to smaller sizes.

This material has some great uses like light covers, POP graphics, displays, and cards. This material is able to be custom shaped.

Positives of Styrene: 

  • Lightweight and flexible material
  • Custom cuts make great POP signs that draw attention
  • Great for safety signs or caution signs
  • Can be screwed, glued, or grommet

Negatives of this material:

  • Not very rigid at all, must have backing if not mounting on a solid service
  • Scratches weaken the material, could break along the scratch

Plexiglass and Acrylic

These are the most used substrate in the sign industry for a large variety of applications. This material is available in many colors, thicknesses. We make modern signs for lobbies out of this material. This is a great outdoor sign material for light-up signs. We often print on the backside and use standoffs to make office displays.

Positives of this material:

  • Great for use interior signs
  • Makes excellent standoff signs
  • Used as a cover for other signs

Negatives of Plexiglass: 

  • Easily scratched if it is not maintained properly

Polycarbonate or LexanCorrugated-Plastic-598x400

Lexan comes in clear and white only. We commonly use this material in sign boxes that are lit up. The thickness starts at 3/16” and runs as long as 100’. We print on translucent vinyl; you can have anything you want printing on this material. Since the COVID we have been refacing or replacing a lot of signs to update and draw more attention to businesses.

Advantages of using Lexan: 

  • Excellent for long-term use. Can be sometimes reused.
  • Heat or cold does not hurt it
  • Allows for light-up signage to draw attention
  • Very durable material


  • Over many years this material may become yellow from UV rays.

Aluminum Composite Material

Aluminum composite material is sometimes called signboard, Dibond, or panel. It is composed of two sheets of thin aluminum with a solid plastic or polyethylene core. Great material for mid to long-term outdoor signs or construction sites It does not warp in long-term heat or moisture. This is a great choice for pole signs for outdoor uses.


  • Easy to print to and laminate
  • Great for long term signs
  • Can be shaped


  • Edges can be sharp we round the corners but care must be taken care when handling


Fiberglass reinforced plywood or FRP is often used in place pf MDO wood. This is when a larger area than a 4’ x 8’ area is being covered. The fiberglass covering provides a long-lasting outdoor life.


  • Very strong and rigid
  • Can be shaped and made into unique designs


  • Extremely heavy

MDO Wood

MDO is an exterior material, has a long-term use plywood core, with a moisture-proof smooth surface. The edges have to be either painted or an edge cap used. We are able to print on both sides of this material. We print on high-performance material and UV laminate it. This helps to make the material last longer.


  • Can be shaped into a custom design
  • Very strong and rigid


  • Edges have to be painted or sealed to last longer
  • 2-4-year life span before the MDO starts to weather


Aluminum comes in solid aluminum sheets with a baked enamel finish and or painted white surface. These sheets come from super thin to engineer grade .80 thickness. This is an ideal substrate to use for long-term signs. We use engineer-grade aluminum to make common parking lot signs in a variety of colors. Reflective parking lot signs are made from this material.


  • Does not bend easily
  • Strong
  • Has a very long lifespan


  • None


Magnetic material is often used to make signs that can be used as temporary signage, that can be moved from one place to another. Barrels for example. We make vehicle graphics magnetic sets for vehicles. they are weather-resistant and full color. We use 30 mill material at the moment, it is made as outdoor signage. We have two types of magnetic material one is stronger than the other.


  • Great material that is strong
  • Can be printed in color
  • long-lasting


  • If not taken care of can fail
  • Must be stored flat

If you need signage made from any of these common sign materials and substrates please give us a call for your free no-obligation digital printing estimate at 713-360-6675.

sign materials

Call Now