Marketing the latest development project with outdoor signage and hoarding is like advertising the release of a new blockbuster movie. The teaser or “coming soon” movie poster is designed to pique your interest, imprint on your memory, and build anticipation for an upcoming feature film.

Similarly, outdoor signs and exterior construction hoarding is intended to do the same, except the end goal is not to usher you into the movie theatre, but instead the sales centre or showroom.

There are several signage options that can be used by developers to make their next project a “box office smash” - some of which are better-suited in certain situations than others. This guide will spur you in the right direction by laying-out popular and effective solutions.

Free-Standing Outdoor Signs

Single and Double-Sided Signs

Outdoor Signs

Ah yes, the classic single and double-sided sign. It doesn’t get much simpler —but simple is still effective.

Despite the advent of digital technologies, the movie industry still heavily relies on single and double-sided posters to relay messages. This rings true for the construction industry as well, as evidenced by the frequent use of signs for every development project.

Why? Because they work!

Single-sided and double-sided signs are used to maximum effect when situated in a location where there are few other signs in the area, and the majority of traffic is expected to solely come from either a north & south or east & west direction.

These are sometimes referred to as monument or pylon signs as well.

Summary/Features:

  • A simple and economical alternative for tight budgets
  • Designed to be viewed from very specific angles
  • Framing: typically supported by a wood, metal, or concrete frame custom built to fit desired sign size and elevation (subject to sign bylaw restrictions)
  • Substrates: Image can be directly printed on certain substrates [ie. ACP (aluminum composite panel), corrugated plastic (polypropylene), MDO plywood] or onto exterior grade vinyl applied to a variety of materials

Option: Returns

Outdoor sign returns

Some signs can include returns, which are small extensions of the signage or “flanks” on each side. These allow additional information or images to be seen while not directly in front of the sign. It’s common to see a website URL or a development name on returns.

Corner Signs

Corner Signs

While single and double-sided signs are great, they don't perform well in all situations. If you’re not positioned at the right angle, the show is over, or - worse yet - it never gets started!

Street corners present a situation where you might not see a sign if you're situated on the wrong side, or at a bad angle. You never want your audience to miss the show, and corner signs ensure everyone receives a ticket to the spectacle, so to speak.

Summary/Features:

  • Allows for multiple graphic facings, viewable from different angles
  • Usually quite large to grab attention 
  • Framing: Typically the same materials and structure like single and double-sided signs
  • Substrates: Same as single and double-sided signs

Panel/Perimeter Construction Hoarding

Outdoor hoarding

The idea behind construction sites with perimeter or panel hoarding is much like watching the pre-movie trailers before the feature presentation. The trailers aren’t designed to tell you everything about the “coming soon” movie; instead they give you enough information to whet your appetite, in hopes that you’ll want to discover more.

The same is what developers want from their audience when they invest in job site perimeter hoarding. Typically this type of hoarding is very hard to miss, as it can sometimes span an entire block depending on the frontage of the property. At least one portion of the display will always catch your attention.

Summary/Features:

  • "Wall” of graphics is comprised of one or more adjoined graphic panels
  • Ideal for construction sites with lots of frontage, or a fenceless perimeter in need of graphic facing (ie. large projects like townhouse and condominium developments)
  • Costs more than some alternatives, but nicer looking and very noticeable
  • Hides messy construction activity
  • Framing: typically supported by a wood frame
  • Substrates: Can be printed on exterior grade vinyl and applied directly to panel material (ie. plywood, alupanel), or printed direct to substrate

Recommended Materials for Freestanding, Corner, and Panel Signs

Aluminum Composite Panel

aluminum composite panel

Image pictured here is a lightweight version of ACP by Multipanel UK called ALUPANEL Lite

A lightweight yet durable product commonly used in the signage industry. Consists of a non-aluminum core sandwiched between two aluminum sheets. A popular ACP product is ALUPANEL, which features two aluminum sheets bonded to a Polyethylene core.

  • Unique malleable properties allow it to be bent, folded, riveted and machined
  • Commonly comes in white, but other colours and specialty finishes available
  • Can be printed on directly, or wrapped/decaled with vinyl graphics. Printing direct-to-substrate is more cost-effective, but wrapping is suggested for better longevity
  • High tolerance against impact and superb resistance to corrosion and UV rays
  • Comes with a 5 year guarantee

MDO Plywood

MDO

A specially treated exterior grade plywood used extensively in the signage industry.

  • Coated on 1 or 2 sides with a white enamel that gives it a smooth finish that can be printed on directly, or can accept paint and vinyl overlays
  • Sheets available in ½” or ¾” thickness, and can be braced together with multiple sheets
  • Commonly known MDO plywood product is Crezon by Olympic Panel

Banners

Just like the single-sided sign, banners are another staple of the construction industry (and -no surprise- still extensively used in movie advertising, yet another parallel).

There’s a few reasons for this, but the main benefit is user-friendliness!

The relative ease with which a banner can be put up and taken down is practically second to none. Movies don’t stay in the theatres for as long as they used to, and banners are constantly taken down and put up with each pending release of a new film. This frantic pace is mirrored in the construction industry and the ability to quickly put up, take down, and sometimes relocate banners is a necessity, as the shape, size, and look of a construction site can change daily.

Mesh Banners (Construction Fence Wraps)

Mesh banners

Summary/Features:

  • Ideal for construction sites with temporary site fencing
  • Easy to put up and take down; can be reused
  • Mesh allows wind to pass through holes, avoiding the “sail” effect
  • Cost-effective vs. panel hoarding
  • Not intended for intricate or highly detailed graphics
  • Framing: Custom fitted to temporary fencing system panels (Modu-Loc, Super Save, Yellow Fence Rentals, Maple Leaf, chain link fencing etc.)
  • Brass grommets should always be used to withstand inclement weather and avoid rusting
  • Typically single-sided but can be printed double-sided
  • Substrate: Vinyl, nylon mesh (various weights, hole sizes, and colours)
Mesh close up
Mesh Vinyl/Nylon

Available in different weights, but a 70/30 ratio of print area to hole size is ideal in most cases. Colours include: white, black, blue, green, red, yellow, and orange. Generally only white mesh is printable.

Vinyl Banners

Outdoor banners

Summary/Features:

  • Ideal for many applications; very versatile and can be used in many different locations
  • Like mesh banners, cost-effective vs. panel hoarding or free-standing signage
  • Can be reused and stored
  • Typically require wind slits to allow air to pass through without causing the “sail” effect (especially important for large banners at high elevations)
  • Anti-rust grommets recommended to withstand inclement weather
  • Seams can be heat-welded or stitched for a more robust finish
  • Can get a higher level of detail and sharper image than mesh banners because there are no holes
  • Framing: Designed to be hung in the air, suspended by rope/string through grommets (grommets recommended every 18")
Vinyl banner close up
Vinyl banner

Very commonly used—and for good reason. Relatively cheap and durable. Check out this article on choosing the right vinyl for your banner.

Option: Banner Tracking System

"C" Track banner system

It can be difficult to keep a banner perfectly taut over time, and sometimes unmanageable elements like weather can cause a banner to sag. Not only does this compromise the message you want to share, it also looks sloppy and has the opposite effect on your brand that you were intending to create when you put the banner up in the first place.

If you want to ensure your banners never droop, banner tracking systems are the way to go. Simple but effective, this system uses cylindrical housing through which the rope sewn into the top and bottom of the banner is fed. The track is affixed to fencing systems or other exterior siding surfaces.

There are some variations of this system, but generally all are quite similar.

Wayfinding Signs

Wayfinding signs

A common use for these types of signs in the construction industry is to direct traffic that is within a close proximity to your development site to the exact location.

Corrugated Plastic Yard Signs

Sometimes referred to as lawn signs, these come in a variety of different sizes, and are generally supported by frames that are easily driven into the ground. The frames or “stakes” are typically made from aluminum wire, however there are several alternative materials used including plastic, steel, and wood. Choosing the appropriate frame depends on a few different variables like the size & weight of the sign, what kind of weather conditions it will be exposed to, and how long it’s expected to be displayed.

The most conventional frame is the “H” stand. There are several variations of this, with some including an extra “step” so that the frame can be more easily driven into the ground by foot.

Corrugated Polypropylene Plastic
Corrugated Polypropylene Plastic

Lightweight, waterproof and stain-resistant, this media is one of the most commonly used substrates in the signage industry, particularly for exterior applications.

  • Least expensive of the main exterior substrates
  • Recyclable
  • Direct to substrate printing
  • Available in various thicknesses (ie. 4mm, 6mm, 10mm)
  • Commonly known Polypropylene product is Coroplast

Sandwich Board (A-Frame Signs)

Sandwich board and A-Frame is another another communication tool developers use to promote and direct traffic to their latest site or showroom. Portable and very simple to set up.

Custom Signage

Custom signs

All of the previously described construction signs are well-tested and highly effective, but by no means are they the only solutions available. Sometimes a particular project might benefit from customs signs designed with a specific use in mind.

Not all print companies have the skills or experience to offer something out of the norm, but sometimes that is what's needed to make an idea come to life. Some developers, for instance, are starting to incorporate backlit signage and lettering into their outdoor signage, among other things.

Download a FREE reference guide on outdoor signs and hoarding!

The Bottom Line:

Due to an increasingly hot real estate market, competition amongst developers and construction companies is at an all-time high. It’s crucial for your outdoor signage and hoarding graphics to stand out and effectively market your projects.

To ensure your feature presentation is a hit amongst audiences, give the experts at PrismTech Graphics a call at 604-421-9757.

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