Banksy style graffiti produced as cut vinyl silhouettes.

What Material Should I Choose for My Sign? Part 1 – Vinyl Signs

This is the first of a 2 part article on how to choose the right material for your sign. Part 1 covers flexible vinyl signs, Part 2 covers rigid signs.

Cutting through the confusion

You know you need a sign to boost your presence on the high street or at a trade show or exhibition. You even know what you want it to look like (if you haven’t sorted the artwork, give us a shout, we can do it for you). But what material should you use? Many of our customers get stuck on this point… they become confused by the choices available, the industry jargon and brand names that are used interchangeably with generic terms.

Print 2 Media are here to set the record straight! This blog post will help you choose the right material for your sign, whatever the application.

The right sign material for the right job

The best material for your sign depends on its application – indoor exhibition stand or outdoor display; permanent signage or temporary promotion. You’ll need to ask yourself a key question up front…

  • Am I adding a graphic to an existing fixture (a wall, a window, a vehicle, an existing rigid sign)
  • or do I need a new, rigid sign to fix to posts, a wall or to free-stand?

If you’re looking to place a graphic on an existing fixture then you need self-adhesive vinyl signage,which we are going to cover in detail in the first part of this two part article. If you need a rigid sign we’ll cover that in detail in Part 2.

Self-adhesive vinyl

Self adhesive vinyl is a flexible PVC (polyvinyl chloride) substrate with a self adhesive back. The substrate itself and the adhesive are waterproof, so can be used indoors or out.

There are three ways in which we can produce vinyl signage

Printed self adhesive vinyl

Our standard printable vinyl has a white face. We are able to run this material through our wide format printers and print any image you like to it (with eco-solvent waterproof inks). This includes full photographic quality images at high resolution. The possibilities really are limitless. Printed vinyl can also be over-laminated with a clear laminate (matt or gloss finish) for extra durability.

A photo of self adhesive vinyl used to tile a wall at an exhibition

Self adhesive printed vinyl used to tile a wall at an exhibition

If you don’t want a plain rectangular piece of vinyl signage, we can also contour-cut the vinyl after it is printed. This includes internal cuts (so cutting out shapes inside the edges of the design, like windows).

You can use printed vinyl to save money if you have an existing rigid sign and just want to cover it with a new image. Let us know if this is the case and we can print to a special block-out vinyl that prevents the image on the underlying sign from showing through.

Order printed self adhesive vinyl →

Printed clear self adhesive vinyl

By printing to a clear self-adhesive vinyl, we can produce printable signage that will work on a window. The background can either be left clear so the viewer can see through it, or we can print onto clear in reverse and then back it with white vinyl to produce a printed sign that sticks to the inside of a window, but is the correct way round when viewed from outside.

Order printed clear self-adhesive vinyl →

Cut self adhesive vinyl

Cut vinyl signage is produced from rolls of coloured vinyl. Pick your colour and we run it through our highly accurate cutter / plotter. The required shapes are cut out of the vinyl and the unwanted vinyl is weeded away from the backing paper, leaving just the bits you want to keep. This is most often used to produce single colour text, but even complex shapes can be cut out on our machines – anything that is a silhouette can be cut out in your chosen colour.

Cut self-adhesive vinyl is most often seen on vehicles. Because there isn’t a large rectangle of vinyl it’s much easier to wrap the cut out shapes around the contours of the vehicle. However, it can also be used to great effect on interior walls. Museums and galleries often use it to add text to walls surrounding their exhibits – unlike paint and stencils, the vinyl can easily be removed when the exhibits change.

Because the adhesive on our PVC cut vinyl substrate is completely clear, it also makes great window signage – full colour depth is maintained when looking from either side of the window – just bear in mind any text will be back-to-front on one side! If you want the design to be stuck to the inside of a window but the correct way round when viewed from outside, we just need to cut the design in reverse.

We supply our cut vinyls with application tape over the front of the sign, so you don’t have to worry about lining up the different elements.

Order self-adhesive cut vinyl →

Flexible vinyl signage, in more ways than one

As you can see, flexible vinyl signs suit a variety of purposes, indoors or out. They can even be used on certain exhibition shell scheme panels such as Octonorm, but be sure to remove them after the event to avoid unhappy stand contractors!

If you have any other questions about vinyl signs, please contact us.

I’ve decided I need a rigid sign…

We hope you’ve found this first part of the article useful, but if you’re more interested in choosing the right material for your rigid signs, head on over to Part 2 What Material Should I Choose for My Sign? Part 2 – Rigid Signs.

Part 2 – Rigid Signs →