Avoiding the Pitfalls of a Cheap Sign
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Avoiding the Pitfalls of a Cheap Sign

You are an expert at your business, but that expertise shouldn't have to include the do's and don'ts of successful sign production. Signage Us has compiled a series of "Cheap Signage Pitfalls" that should be avoided if you want to steer clear of low-quality aesthetics and long-term headaches.

The Set Up

This is a typical example of a very poorly made sign that was supplied on an exclusive contract to a major oil company by a national sign company. The sign was installed in New England and should have been built for winter conditions. Letís examine its construction.

Back of sign

The manufacturer used the thinnest possible reclaimed sheet metal. Note the blue paint visible through the scratch. This sign was painted with a hand roller with what appears to be consumer grade paint. In person, you can actually see through the white paint coverage.

The Fit

Visible gaps, some larger than 1/4", appear between the sign face and cabinet. Duct tape was used to adhere the face to the sign cabinet. Also notice the scratches on the molded plastic face on all 4 corners where paint was worn off due to the poor fit.

The Cabinet

As you can clearly see, duct tape is used as a seal between the formed plastic face and sharp metal edges of the sign cabinet, which does not prevent scratching the sign face. There is no sign face retainer or structural sign frame, only thin sheet metal returns. Interior of the sign cabinet is filled with dirt, extra hardware and bugs due to the lack of a seal around the sign and minimal drainage holes.


The cheapest possible manufacturing methods were used, as indicated by the stapled joints and the hand-cut corners. This sign was apparently designed to be lifted and held in place by a single ľ" bolt, as no other holes for bolts were visible.


The two fluorescent lamps in this sign were installed more than 11" apart, in violation of UL specifications which require at least three lamps. The lamps were attached to the lamp sockets with electrical tape and some sort of caulking. This sign would not pass UL inspection and is not water-tight. Given the minimal sealing on this sign, it is likely to need expensive service from a bucket truck and crew to replace a $5 lamp.


Bucket truck repair crews can cost you upwards of $1,000 just to change a light bulb in an exterior sign cabinet. Sourcing your signs from Signage US (3 year warranty) and taking advantage of our Competitive Analysis Program to create exact design and manufacturing specifications can save a company with hundreds of installations significant amounts of money.

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