Choosing the perfect substrate for your outdoor signage may seem mundane, but it is one of the most crucial parts of making a sign. Choosing substrate is like selecting the correct foundation for a house. You want your substrate to be high quality, long lasting, and optimal for your needs. In this outdoor signage guide we will highlight some of the most used and best substrates in the business.



These acrylic sheets set themselves apart by their transparency, surface hardness, and brilliance. Acrylite is 10x stronger than that of glass and only has half of the weight. The Acrylic is able to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at it. Check out this video of Luke Anderson, our Associate VP, trying to break the material with a hammer. Spoiler alert, he can't break it. Thus proving Acrylite a great premium outdoor signage option.

The premium surface quality comes in matte, glossy, and textured. The material boasts supreme weather and aging resistance. The product has a 30 year warranty against any yellowing, so you can be sure this product will last.

Many manufacturers worldwide use Acrylite. In office situations, Acrylite is used for lighting fixtures, shelving, office dividers, dry-erase marker boards, digital printing, and many others applications.



Aluminum is the thinnest of all metal sign substrates. It is tough, lightweight, and super durable. Their water resistant and potential for vibrant coloring makes aluminum an excellent choice for outdoor or indoor signage.

Aluminum composite is mainly utilized for aluminum parking signs and other road signage.


ACM (aluminum composite material)

ACM, like Omegabond, Dibond and e-panel, is a metal sign that has two metal aluminum sides that sandwich a solid polyethylene core in between them. This design does not swell, corrode, or rot under prolonged exposure to water. When properly fastened, ACM can withstand winds over 120 mph. Thus making it a great outdoors and weather-resistant sign.

Sign makers use ACM for a wide variety of applications, like Electrical LED signs, digital printing, architectural signage, real estate signs, and wall mounted signs.


Channel Letters

Channel letters are large metal or plastic, lighted letters. They attract customers both day and night. These come in nearly any font, color, and size.

The channel letters are can mount to the outside of store fronts. They are built to last for years and require little maintenance, which makes them a great investment.


Corrugated Plastic

Extremely durable plastic makes up corrugated plastic. It makes the substrate extremely lightweight and more favorable over solid extruded plastic. The Corrugated Plastic is waterproof, weather resistant, and stain proof making it ideal for both indoor and outdoor signage. The strong durability and professional look is more favorable over foam core mounting board, and poster board.

Corrugated Plastic is commonly the material of choice for the screen printing industry.


Expanded PVC (Expanded Polyvinyl Chloride)

Expanded Polyvinyl Chloride is a lightweight, high strength, closed-cell PVC sheet with a low-gloss finish. The PVC transforms into many forms with heat. Expanded PVC is chemical, dent, and scratch resistant, making it ideal for commercial signage.

Expanded PVC is a great substrate for digital printing, screen printing, painting, laminating, and for vinyl lettering.


HDU (High Density Polyurethane)

HDU are thick sheets that are sandblasted to create words and special effects. Sign makers decorate these with paint finish. The signs are completely waterproof and can withstand extreme heat, cold, and high salt environments. The HDU guarantees to not warp or bow and doesn’t crack, swell, or rot.

Monument signs, theme park attractions, sculptures, and 3-D displays are all applications that frequently favor High Density Polyurethane.


MDO (Medium Density Overlaid Plywood)

MDO is premium exterior-grade plywood that “letterheads”, or sign writers find ideal for hand painting. The fiber-infused layer of the MDO makes it easy to paint. The paint lasts up to three times longer than traditional plywood. The MDO manufactures with waterproof resin-infused fiber that seals it off from outdoor elements. Since the overlay is about 28 percent resin, it resists water effortlessly. You get the best of both worlds, it is tough and durable because of the fiber overlay, but cuts cleanly without splitting and slivering.

Most MDO is for exterior applications like privacy fences, garage doors, fascia, soffit, and siding. It is also sometimes for inside applications like shelving, cabinets, and paneling with decorative molding.



Polycarbonate is very popular in the outdoor signage industry  for the construction and manufacturing sectors. Sign makers value Polycarbonate for its moldable, durable, lightweight, flame resistance, shatterproof, and energy efficiency. Perhaps the quality that trumps the rest is that the Polycarbonate is 200 times more impact resistant than glass and only is half the weight. It also costs a third to a half  less than the cost of insulated glass.


The flat Polycarbonate is transparent and has solar control which reduces heat build-up. This makes it great for architectural roof lights, greenhouses, atriums, and specialty glazing.



Vinyl Banners 

A vinyl banner is a popular and cost effective way to get a message across to the world. The colors and graphics are UV proof and weather resistant, so they will stay vibrant rain or shine.

This popular signage is portable and easy to hang. It is easily rolled up to be transported or stored. The banners are very effective for their price. Banners have a wide array of sizes for any kind of event. Sign makers love

banners because they can hang them vertically or horizontally, and can pack a lot of information and pictures on them. You get a lot of advertising options for your dollar.

Banners uses include fundraisers, car washes, graduation parties, birthday parties, bar specials, parades, or for billboards.



If you need help converting, sheeting, or slitting your substrate- we got you! Get perfect custom sign blanks in the exact amount your project requires. Save money by purchasing media and substrates in bulk and getting them cut to your exact specifications. Check it out!