What Types of Letters Are Best for Walls?
THE INSIDE SCOOP
What Types of Letters Are Best for Walls? It depends on a few factors. First, is it an interior or exterior wall? If it’s interior, there is an assortment of materials you can use that are potentially less expensive than those that have to withstand the elements for many seasons.
I recently lettered an interior wall for a law group that has multiple offices across Virginia. I had sold this customer similar interior wall signs as an account executive with Holiday Signs, and they continue to utilize me for signs now that I’m with Augusta Signs. They use a laminated acrylic letter for their interior corporate branding. Laminated letters are great for interior use, but they will eventually de-laminate outdoors and aren’t recommended for exterior applications. The particular style used had black edges and brushed silver laminated metal faces. They were stud mounted with spacers to cast a nice shadow from the office lighting. The customer painted the accent wall themselves and the rich blue background really sets off the lettering and makes for a very eye-catching branding statement!
Generally speaking, labor costs to mount letters in drywall is often less than that required for exterior wall for letters (brick and concrete drilling), so material and labor costs for interior sign jobs are usually lower on the scale. That being said, there are some really neat options for interior letters that aren’t always available for outdoors, and some options will end up costing the same or more than exterior options. It all depends on the design.
Other options for interior wall letters: painted acrylic, acrylic with digitally printed laminated films, PVC, clear acrylic, wood, gilded letters, ACM.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Now for exterior wall letters. I have been choosing and installing letters for wall signs since I started my career in the Department of Defense in 1980. Mostly, these types of letters nowadays are CNC cut, laser cut, injection-molded, or cast. Back when I first started I hand-cut wall letters, but it’s not my biggest strength. There was a lot of labor involved in cutting, filing, sanding, priming and painting. Today, I get most of my wall letter products from Gemini. I would guess that most sign companies do the same thing, so as you’re shopping for wall letters, ask for Gemini letters and the pricing should be reasonably close among the sign companies. Some may have a higher mark-up than others, but always consider the companies track record and things they may bring to the table above and beyond the competitors. A few things to look for: do they offer design services, and do they provide sketches that show how your letters will look an the wall? Do they provide final proofs for approval prior to production? What is their turn-around time? All Gemini letters and plaques come with a lifetime guarantee, another good reason to specify the Gemini brand, as do many architects.
Today I completed an exterior wall sign for a local church. They are in the process of a sizable church renovation project and they wanted to set off the upgraded church facility by adding their name in wall letters as people come into church. The building committee wanted a letter style that was easy to read, so I recommended Gemini cast aluminum letters. They wanted a subtle look, so brushed aluminum seemed to fit the bill. They didn’t want insects or birds making a mess so extending them away from the wall wasn’t an option, thus I mounted the letters flush to the wall with hidden aluminum mounting studs. They will be spotlighting the sign at night with LED.
The most common options for exterior wall letters: Cast aluminum or bronze with natural satin finished or cast aluminum with painted finishes; Cut out aluminum with either natural or painted finishes; Cut out acrylic letters with painted finishes. All these types of letters are the best for walls.
Mark Hackley is owner of Augusta Sign Company. Augusta Sign Company began in 1991 as Tree Street Ltd., then became The Roline Corporation in 2000. It traded as Tree Street Signs through early 2000, and began trading as Augusta Sign Company full-time in July 2015. In September, 2017 the company moved its shop from Waynesboro to Staunton. Call anytime: 540-943-9818.