Sign Types and Materials: Exterior Signage

Signs have come a long way since the days of the beware of dog mosaics displayed at doorsteps in ancient Pompeii. Then there were the wooden directional signs guiding Medieval travelers at every fork in the road. At the turn of the 20th Century, reverse glass signs were all the rage on Main Street and neon debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. Fast forward eighty years later and the Magners are working behind their first vinyl plotter at Miracle Sign Co. in Forest Grove, Oregon. Even though the materials used to make signs have changed over time, Miracle Sign Co. uses only the best materials in the work we do for you. In other words, all of our signs point to Yes!

At Miracle Sign Co., we strive to design and customize signs that reflect your business and personal needs. A good-looking sign is a quality-made sign. There’s really no way around it. And to be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We want our craftsmanship to show in every letter, layout, crevice, and corner. So, it’s important for us to be upfront about what goes into making a sign. Our first step is to decide the location of your signage to determine your sign type. We offer a variety of sign types, including exterior, interior, promo, vehicle, and banner. Then we go over the types of materials we use in designing and crafting your signage.

In our effort to meet and exceed your signage needs, we’re writing a blog series on sign types and materials. In the next several posts, we’ll go over the materials we use for specific sign projects starting with one of the most popular, exterior signage.


An exterior sign should not only look good, but should also withstand the elements. Season in and season out, a commercial sign above your business door or posted at the entrance of the parking lot needs to appeal to the public and be durable. Miracle Sign Co., specializes in three exterior sign styles: Dimensional, Long Term, and Wood / Sandblasted / High Density Urethane (HDU) foam.

Our dimensional signs really stand out from the crowd. That’s because they’re made from quality brand materials such as  Sintra, a high density lightweight PVC foam used for outdoor displays and photo-mounting. Similar to Sintra is Gatorfoam, a heavy-duty foam board bonded between two layers of wood-fiber veneer. Gatorfoam is scratch and dent resistant, making it an excellent choice for graphics and screen printing.

If you’re interested in going green with your signage, there’s Precision Board, a nonabsorbent machine-friendly High Density Urethane (HDU) foam. This material complements LEED building requirements – it has a certifiable Carbon Balance and produces less waste when cut. Miracle Sign Co., also custom designs signs with aluminum. Our traditional aluminum signs are great for parking lots and curbsides. We use Dibond sheets, an aluminum composite material that can either be finished with a brush metal effect or coil-coated paint. Dibond is perfect for digital and screen-printed graphics and won’t bow over time. This aluminum composite weighs 50% less than traditional aluminum.

In it for the long haul? We’ve got just the sign for the job. When you’re looking for a sign to last a lifetime or two, rest assured our long term signs do. That’s because we rely on Dibond, Lexan, and one-shot lettering enamel. Dibond aluminum composite material is a great choice because its lightweight yet durable, smooth yet weather-resistant. Lexan is the toughest plastic around because it’s shatterproof – it’s used for bullet proof glass and eye protection-wear. When it comes to signage, Lexan is engineered to resist peeling, chipping, and fading. The perfect paint to complement long term signage is One Shot Sign Enamel. One Shot performs in all types of climates, provides great coverage, and offers a range of vibrant colors.

If you’re looking for a high-quality sandblasted wood or faux-wood HDU foam sign, the Miracle Sign Co. team will make sure you get the cut above in signage. We use clear grade red cedar when you want a clean, polished, and natural-looking sign. Red cedar is easy to work with and weather resistant. Similarly, redwood is another option if you’re in the market for a natural wood sign. Redwood is also easy to work with and easy to paint. Two other material options that achieve similar sandblasted-wood effects are Precision Board and HDU foam. Both materials are made from extremely durable and waterproof foam. High density sandblasted foam signs are a great alternative for clients on a budget since it’s less expensive to make, ship, and replace compared to high quality woods.

Feeling enlightened about our exterior sign types and materials? We sure hope so! And we hope to see you again for our next post in our series on Sign Types and Materials – it’s all about interior signs.