There are a wide variety of signs that a sign shop can make for clients. In addition, the type of sign company that you wish to build will determine the types of materials that you should have on hand. This Material Stock List section will be dedicated to the small vinyl sign shop which makes up the vast majority of all sign company start-ups.
Please note that every type of material (or substrate as it is called in the sign industry) usually comes in a wide variety of sizes, colors, thicknesses etc. I will recommend specific items for a start-up sign shop owner who is primarily concerned with quality and customer service. There is always a “cheap alternative” available and if you wish to be the cheapest sign company on the block then you are free to make that decision (though I strongly recommend that you don’t).
Basic Substrates to have on-hand:
- Vinyl Banner: 13 oz with nylon reinforcement
This is typically the bread and butter product for a vinyl sign shop. Material costs are low, the product can be built fast and there is excellent value to the customer. Calculator
- Coroplast: 4mm
A corrugated substrate (think cardboard but made from plastic) that makes a fast, inexpensive sign product with rigidity for special events, temporary signs etc. Calculator
- (Sintra) PVC: 3mm
A nicer rigid substrate that is very useful for smooth interior displays and signage (not good for outside signs.) Calculator
- Acrylic: 1/8”
An excellent interior / exterior plastic with a very high gloss surface. Makes great looking high-end signage but can be very brittle (especially in cold environments.)
- Aluminum: .040
*A thin metal substrate, relatively lightweight with a nice gloss enamel finish. When made using high performance vinyl it makes an excellent exterior sign that can be used for anything from parking signs to large main store front signs. Calculator
- Magnetic: .030 mil
A durable magnetic sheet that usually comes in 24” rolls. This substrate is typically used for inexpensive vehicle magnets but it can be used for small specialty items. Calculator
- Wood MDO (Multi Density Overlay): 1/2”
A very standard wood substrate specifically designed for long term exterior signs. You can get this in a pre-primed panel which you then would need to paint or you can can get sign panels which only require trim capping for the edges (much cleaner.) Calculator
- Alumacore / Alumalite: 1/4”
A lightweight rigid substrate similar to MDO but with no wood (or potential rotting problem) involved. Great for exterior signage needs in a wet / humid environments.
Check out our Sign industry Resources page in the supply category for suppliers for your substrates.