Signage Material Information

There are many and varied types of materials, substrates and digital printing media to fit all types of situations.  The use of the materials etc. will depend on what the client wishes to achieve, how long they want it displayed and how the signage is going to be installed and much more.

Total Concept Signs uses on the best products for the job and will advise you on each product and needs to achieve your objective.

The following are the main materials that are on the market to use in the signage industry. Click a material to learn more about it and its uses.

> Acrylic

Acrylic is a useful, clear plastic that resembles glass, but has properties that make it superior to glass in many ways. One of these reasons is that is it many times stronger than glass and cheaper than glass?  It is much more impact resistant and therefore safer to use and have around where people may be in close proximity.  Falling against an acrylic panel will not likely break it.  Another great advantage of acrylic is that it is only half as heavy as glass. This makes working with acrylic much easier. Adding to this favourable array of properties, acrylic has a transparency rate of 93% making it the clearest material known.

Acrylic - different colours and thicknesses

Acrylic comes in a range of different colours and thicknesses ranging from 3mm to 30mm.  If you would like lettering or numbering thicker than 30mm, we can fabricate the letters meaning they would be hollow on the inside.

Applying different colours of vinyl to the back of clear acrylic can provide an impressive looks that may suit your environment. Alternatively, acrylic comes in different colours such as clear, opal, white, black, reds, greens, blues, yellow, mirrors, grey, and brown.  Only certain colours are available at certain thicknesses so don’t hesitate to contact us here if you would like further information.

There are some misconceptions about acrylic, namely that it turns yellow, becomes brittle and cracks over time.  Though this might be true of very cheap forms of plastic, it is not so with acrylic. For example, the fighter planes of WWII have acrylic bubble-tops. Airplane windows are also acrylic. If taken care of, acrylic remains new-looking regardless of age or exposure to sun. Some people worry that acrylic scratches too easily, but unlike glass, scratches can be easily buffed out of acrylic.

> Aluminium Composite Material

Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) which trades under many names including  ALUCOBOND®, ALUPANEL and DIBOND® is a light composite material consisting of two aluminium cover sheets and a core made of polyethylene.  This simple but extremely versatile product concept has been developed to provide a façade material with a host of advantages for architects and signage manufactures.

Characteristics of Aluminium Composite Material

Aluminium Composite Material is stable and yet flexible, it has an extremely smooth surface and is available in a number of standard or custom colours. It is weather-resistant, unbreakable, shock-resistant, vibration absorbent & easy to install.  It is the ideal material for fascias, cut out lettering, backing for fabricated letters and long lasting signage. Aluminium Composite Material is also being commonly used to clad buildings and structures around cities as they give a very clean and smooth finish, along with being less expensive than stainless steel.

Different colours and thicknesses

Aluminium Composite Material comes in a range of different colours including:
White, Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, Mirrored Chrome, and Brushed Chrome (resembling stainless steel)

Thicknesses range from 1mm up to about 6mm, however it can be fabricated if you need it to be thicker.

Total Concept Signs uses a large amount of ACM due to its stability and quality finish, we can offer you a range of different ways you would be able to use ACM for your signage requirements.

> Colorbond

Colorbond signs are a great option for sign making. Colorbond has the ability to wrap around corners and bend easily. Colorbond is generally a cheaper material to use, and usually would be covered in vinyl to give it a brighter appearance.

Colorbond also is magnetic, so can be used for menus, or general signage to attach further magnets to it, like a “fire warden on duty” sign etc.
Colorbond is a great material to choose as it is thin and flexible yet strong and very durable. Signs all across Australia are made from Colorbond.

Although Colorbond is a strong material, it would need some support behind for it to be a long term signage solution. If you need a stronger material on its own you could also look at the material Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).

> Corflute

Fluted Polypropylene Sheet (Corflute)

Total Concept Signs supplies a high quality grade of Fluted Polypropylene Sheet suitable for use in the signage and screen printing industries. It is manufactured from a tough UV stabilised Polypropylene Copolymer giving it excellent chemical resistance properties as well as an outdoor life expectancy of 2 or more years, depending on the degree of sunlight exposure, sheet colour and general weather conditions.

We only recommend Corflute for temporary cheap signage.


  • Rigid Sheet
  • Semi Gloss Appearance
  • Suitable for bonding, welding die cutting


  • UV stabilised, ideal for outdoor use
  • Light weight
  • Food contact approved
  • Chemical, water and organic resistant
  • Carona Treated for printing

Colours available:

White, Black, Yellow, Red, Green, Blue and Grey


  • Signboards, both indoors and out
  • Screen printing
  • Real Estate and Builders signage
  • Packaging
  • Moisture barrier (Retaining walls)

> Foam PVC

Things to know about PVC

PVC is also known as Foam PVC. It is a high quality, strong material that is suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Some typical uses for PVC include the following:

  • Point of sale displays
  • Menu boards
  • Directional and informational signage
  • Name plates and name tags
  • Trade show signage

FOAM PVC – What is it made from?

PVC is medium-weight and durable, foam PVC can be easily installed and transported. It has a matt finish which can easily hide any finger prints, while also being able to be cut into shapes and sizes allowing for great custom signage.

Raw Foam PVC is a product that is best suited for long-term indoor or medium-term outdoor applications. When PVC is used outdoors, it is much better to be painted with a 2 Pac finish. If the PVC is being used unpainted it should be sheltered and used in low-humidity areas, as some brands may absorb moisture and mildew when left in exposed locations.

Installation and Care

PVC may absorb moisture and mildew when left in wet exposed outdoor locations. Therefore, we recommend that PVC be installed in sheltered dry areas when possible.

Foam PVC signs may be displayed in several ways including hidden fixings, hanging devices, screws or silicon.

> Vinyl Information

Total Concept Signs always use the highest quality vinyl including the Oracle, 3M and AVERY brands, however there are still a number of important issues to consider when choosing vinyl.

Choosing a colour for your vinyl

When choosing colours for your vinyl signage, it is better to choose a vinyl colour, as opposed to choosing a colour that can only be obtained through the use of digitally printing that colour. The reason for this is that if the colour is digitally printed, it will only last as long as the ink lasts and not be as intense a colour as if the colour was in the actual vinyl.

A vinyl colour will last many more years than a colour that is digitally printed onto vinyl. If your logo consists of flat colours (without a gradient) it is a much better option to use cut-out vinyl as it will maximise the vinyl’s life.  Total Concept Signs have vinyl swatches available if you would like to see what colours are available in vinyl.

Different Types of Vinyl

Different types of vinyl last different amounts of time. Cast vinyl is a more expensive thinner vinyl which will last longer and excellent for internal and external use, whereas Calender vinyl doesn’t last as long and is a thicker vinyl that is more suitable for temporary solutions and especially internal.

Additional Things to know about Vinyl

1. Difference between Cast and Calendered vinyl
Cast Vinyl – Cast vinyl are manufactured using casting paper, PVC resin, automotive grade lead free pigments, polymeric plasticiser, heat stabilisers which resist process heat, UV heat & mold growth, premium grade UV inhibitors, additives and solvent.

Calendered Vinyl – Calendered vinyl films are made from PVC, pigments, plasticiser and additives. Calendered vinyl films are manufactured by producing a molten mass of vinyl in an extruder, then pulling the molten PVC through polished heated rollers and stretching to proper thickness and finally applying a gloss or matt finish.

2. Surface Preparation
 It is crucial that the surface you are planning on applying vinyl to is cleaned and prepared before the application:
- remove all the dirt and grime using a detergent solution and water
- remove any grease, oil or wax by scrubbing the surface with a solvent wipe i.e. isopropyl alcohol. Test the solvent on the substrate to check for any potential damage.
- after cleaning wipe the substrate with a mild solvent using a clean rag- finally perform a dry wipe of the substrate with a soft, lint free cloth before the solvent evaporates.

Cautionary Note: While it may seem logical that a strong solvent will be the best cleaner for surfaces that are hard to stick film to - in the case of many plastics and paints this is wrong and can lead to premature sign failing due to embrittlement, cracking or loss of gloss. Use the ildest solvents possible and only clean until the surface dirt is gone.

Unsuitable cleaning solutions include:
- Mineral Turpentine
- Citrus based cleaners
- Abrasive detergents
- Windex

3. Paints and Coatings – Dry Vs Cured
All paints (water based "latex" or oil based) must be given adequate time to dry before installing any vinyl or poor adhesion, bubbles and eventual edge curl will result. Although "adequate" is a loose term, we recommend that if the painted faces cannot be stacked without sticking to one another, then they are also not dry enough for vinyl.

Paints should be well dried and cured before installation of signage. It is always better to use two lighter coats of paint rather than one heavier coat when painting signs that are to be covered with films, as drying and curing will be faster and more complete.

Flat latex paints are harder to stick to than others.

Some latex surfaces may be incompatible with pressure sensitive graphics. A prime coat may be applied before vinyl installation. A good on-site test for dryness of a painted vehicle surface is to press a thumbnail into the paint. If the nail edge leaves an impression the paint is still too soft to apply graphics upon.

Vinyl adheres better to surfaces that have been painted with a gloss or satin finish as opposed to surfaces that have been painted with a flat or matte finish. This has to do with the amount of surface contact available to the adhesive.

Vinyl generally sticks better to oil based paints than water based or latex products. There are some exceptions to this rule and we have found that vinyl modified acrylic latex paints receive vinyl better than straight PVA types.

If you are interested in putting vinyl on a painted wall it is important that the wall be primed before painting. This reduces the chances of removing the paint layer when the vinyl is removed. Vinyl removal from a wall should be done when the wall/vinyl are warm – either by increasing the ambient air temperature or by using "Mild Heat" from a hair dryer.

If the vinyl doesn't want to stick initially it can be made to stick a little better by using a heat gun and squeegee on the applied film before removing the application tape.

Alternatively the application tape removal can be made easier by lightly spraying the graphic with application fluid (soapy water), waiting two minutes and then peeling back the application paper at a flat reverse angle against the graphic.

4. Window Glass Applications
When designing the artwork for large plate glass applications which are exposed to a high amount of sun, be sure to avoid large areas of dark color next to a light or reflective color.
The difference in heat gain and glass expansion under films with extreme grey scale differences will cause glass fatigue and early failure of the glass.

It's best to break up the design and use lighter colours and non reflective colours than a grayscale design.

Very hot "on-site" applications

When the surface of a sign face reaches over 37°c, the tack of the adhesive can become unmanageable, especially if repositioning is going to be required. Before beginning an application on very hot surfaces, use clean water mist to achieve “evaporative cooling” on sign faces. This technique can bring the temperature down 20° to 40° depending on the starting surface temperature relative humidity and the amount of water used.

WARNING: Do not use this method for surfaces with rivets as water will become trapped under the rivet and eventually cause “tenting” around the rivet.

Frosting: definition

Frosting film is one of the most common types of signage products ordered by clients today. This is due primarily to it being such a versatile and relatively inexpensive product for increasing privacy throughout many offices building.

Frosting comes in a variety of colours, sizes, brands and finishes and is often hard to match to existing film, particularly in older buildings. One of the best ways to overcome this hurdle is to take high resolution images and send these to us so we can match these images to a product in our comprehensive frosting catalogue. The most widely specified types of frosting include Avery and 3M. Architects generally like to specify these two company’s frosting products because they are generally superior and are warranted to last at least 7 years internally.

Frosting: installation

When ordering frosting it is important to specify the dimensions of the window or glass partition and inform your rep of any modifications necessary to the frosting.

One of the most common modifications to standard factory frosting involves direct printing a company’s logo onto the frosting strip. This is very common in corporate offices and in safety strips which go over glass partitions in most building lobbies, so that patrons don’t accidentally walk through glass.

The other common type of modification involves computer cutting a particular shape or logo out of the frosting strip in order to allow people to be able partially see through the frosting film. You’ll find this type of effect most commonly in doctors’ surgeries and in certain types of retail service businesses such as real estate agents and financial planners.

> Weathertex

Weathertex Signboard is an exterior grade wood fibre building board with a factory applied primer coating on all surfaces. It is manufactured in Australia to comply with the requirements for Exterior Hardboard in AS/NZS 1859.4:1997 Hardboard.  Weathertex Signboard is 9.5mm thick, dense, tough and resistant to impact. It has a smooth face surface and the primer coating provides an excellent base for painting and sign writing. The sheets are the exact same thickness throughout and the exact same dimensions.

As Weathertex Signboard is made from wood, it is easy to cut, machine, router and shape with normal woodworking tools or machinery. It can be simply nailed or screwed to timber frames or screwed to metal.

Total Concept Signs can supply, install and cut to shape many different patterns and sizes of Weathertex Signboard.

Weathertex is starting to lose its place in the industry since Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) has all the characteristics as weathertex, but cheaper, lighter and already prepped.

What to consider when you are looking for a sign

What are the functions of signage?

Signage is designed to fit into three main categories:

  1. Advertising – get your message out there, advertise sales and services etc..
  2. Directional/Informative – notify where to go or explain what to do.
  3. Safety – display all WHS areas and procedures.

What kind of sign are you after?
It must reflect the nature of your business. Options include fabricated, illuminated 3D letters, light boxes, digital prints and vinyl, stainless steel lettering plus more.

Is the sign indoors or outdoors?
The sign will need to be made of exterior materials if it is going to be installed outdoors.

Is the sign permanent or temporary?
This can alter the costs significantly if the sign can be disposable.

What size of sign are you looking for?
Consider the size and dimensions of the sign. A long and thin fascia sign for a shop will require different treatment to a tall and narrow sign on the side of a building. Remember one of the most important visual communication factors, the use of space to provide clear and concise communication.

Who will see the signage?
What will the viewing distance be? - include the most essential information. Some of the most effective signs use just a couple of well chosen colours, so there's no need to use every colour you can think of.

What about the use of light?
Back lit, edge lit etc. Another essential marketing tool which you can use. It not only makes your sign visible in the dark, but can create attractive effects like shadows.

What material should the sign be made from?
Choice of materials and methods are important factors when designing a sign. Blueprint Concept’s signs are based on durable, lightweight and inexpensive materials, such as various plastics, extruded aluminium systems, epoxy powder coatings and special durable PVC films and inks. A good design and layout for your sign will count for little if the materials from which it is made don't last.

What budget have you set aside for the sign?
We will guarantee to provide you with signage of the very best quality available for the best possible cost.  We will work hard to meet your budget.

Who is designing the artwork?
If you do not have someone to design the artwork to the technical specifications needed ask about the Total Concept Signs graphic design services.