A substrate is a general term to describe the base material onto which images will be applied. There are many different options that can be made into signage as well as a variety of factors that go into deciding the ideal substrate.
Some jobs may need more than one substrate to complete. Some clients need inexpensive and versatile way to change their sign face every few months, and an easy way to accomplish this is with vinyl applied to coroboard (substrate 1) and the coroboard installed onto a post mounted particle board (substrate 2).
- Coro Board – Corrugated plastic board is a light-weight tough material best suited for short-term signage and can have horizontal or vertical flutes. It comes in a wide variety of colors and thicknesses, from 4mm to 10mm, to be used for both indoor and outdoor uses.
- Expanded PVC (Komacel) – A weather proof PVC Sheet that is chemical-resistant and non-corroding. It will not absorb water, so it resists rot, and it is ready for long term indoor or outdoor use. White only, in a variety of thicknesses; 6MM, 10MM, 13 MM, 19MM, 24MM, 30MM.
- Acrylic (Plexiglass) – High gloss, lightweight, ridged, durable, all-weather plastic sheet substrate used primarily in the fabrication of long-term indoor or outdoor illuminated-cabinet sign faces. Available in 1/16”, 1/8” and 1/4″ thicknesses Made in 4’x8’ to 6’x10’ sheets.
- Poly Carbonate (Lexan) – More strength and less weight than acrylic, virtually unbreakable, used almost exclusively for large, backlit pole signs. Comes on a roll for any length necessary.
- Polystyrene (Styrene) – All weather, lightweight alternative material to other plastics. This product is not a long-term signage alternative when used as exterior signage.
- High Density Urethane (Foam) – Can be cut, sandblasted, routed, carved, or machined and will not crack, twist, or curl after long exterior exposure. It is extremely durable, waterproof, and can be finished with any type of sign paints or finish. Can effectively replace wood, plastics and metals.
- Sintra – Is long-lasting, smooth foam PVC material usually used as a trade up for Coro, card or form board. For indoor use it comes in 3mm and 6mm thickness, and can be white, grey, tan or black.
- Foam board – A lightweight, low-cost, indoor use only substrate. It consists of three layers – an inner layer of polystyrene sandwiched between an outer facing of coated paper. Primarily used for mounting and framing photos or digital prints and does not hold up well to wet adherents and is therefore not suitable for wet painting.
- Medium Density Overlay (M.D.O) Boards – have a UV cured white urethane-acrylic top coating which can be painted or primed. M.D.O. is durable, has a smooth surface, and is scratch & moisture resistant which make them the default choice for long-term, outdoor, free-standing post-mounted installations. Most commonly used by General Contractors, Commercial Real Estate firms, and Construction companies. Available in 4’x8’ or 5’x10’ panels.
- Finished plywood – Is less expensive than M.D.O., is paintable and sturdy which make it suitable long-term, outdoor installations, and can be post-mounted.
- Particle board – Particle board as a substrate should be used only as an inexpensive backing to ensure stability of weaker substrates, such as .040 aluminum and coroboard, when used for freestanding applications.
- Aluminum – A non-rusting, all-weather, factory-baked, dent & ding resistant, painted sheet metal ideal for use on exterior signage. Aluminum comes in standard thicknesses of .040, .080 and is available in 4’x8’ or 4’x10’ sheets.
- Magnetic Material – All weather flexible magnetized sheet. This product is utilized in the fabrication of signs where permanently affixed signage is not desired. This product will adhere to most surfaces made of steel. Please note magnetic sheeting will not adhere to surfaces made of aluminum, fiberglass or plastic.
- Coated Steel – Is not as durable outdoors as aluminum signs but steel is a very economical and dependable alternative. Steel signs are great for magnetic signage such as menu boards and production schedules.
- Signabond / DieBond – A solid polyethylene core sandwiched between two thin aluminum sheets. It is designed for flat sign panel applications and is easily cut and routed. Thicker and sturdier than .040ga. aluminum and is dent and ding resistant. It is used for indoor and outdoor applications. Available in 12 different colors and two different thicknesses.
- Aluma-Core – is constructed of heavy-duty corrugated plastic cased between aluminum sheets to create a strong and lightweight substrate. This material comes in 1/4th” and 1/2″ thicknesses and can be cut to the size and shape needed. A variety of colors are available.