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Things You Should Know When Opting for Backlit Signs

What to Know When Getting a Backlit Sign

Backlit signs are some of the most common signs used in business contexts. Companies use them to advertise their brand, location, products, and more. They’re great for catching people’s attention at any time of day or night, but do you know all the work that goes into creating them? Today’s post will discuss what backlit signs are, what they’re made of, and some things to think about when designing one of your own.

About Backlit Sign Lightboxes

There are three main types of backlit sign lightboxes: fluorescent, LED, and edge-lit LED.

  • Fluorescent signs use illuminated tubes to create their lighting effects. They are known for providing a steady, even glow, but they also require a lot of space to accommodate their large bulbs. Most companies that use fluorescent signs place them outside where their bulk is less of an issue.
  • LED signs are the most common type of backlit sign. This is because LED lightbox signs use very little energy while providing a crisp, clean look that appeals to consumers. However, these signs need to be made significantly deeper than standard lit signs to avoid creating uneven lighting effects. You can also use a diffuser to mitigate this problem.
  • Edge-lit LED signs are similar to regular backlit LED signs, but as the name suggests, they’re lit around the edges instead of from directly behind. These signs are equipped with a diffuser that spreads the light from these edge LEDs across the whole sign. They can be made very thin, and they’re very affordable to fabricate and run.

Best Materials for Backlit Signs

Backlit signs can be made out of many different materials. Some of the most popular include:

  • Backlit Paper. Backlit paper signs are made using a thin sheet of translucent Bristol board. These signs are inexpensive and can be given a special coating to avoid warping in humid conditions. They’re ideal for short-term use, such as when you want to advertise a sale or special event.
  • Printable Films. Translucent plastic films made of materials like styrene or polypropylene can be used to make basic backlit signs too. These signs are a bit more durable than their paper counterparts and hold up to the elements much better. They’re often used for outdoor display spaces like bus stops or the row of illuminated movie posters outside the theatre.
  • Photographic Transparency Films. Photographic transparency film signs are like a higher-quality version of printable film signs. They are often referred to as translates or Duratrans (the brand name of a photographic transparency film producer). These films produce extremely faithful, high-resolution prints of photographs, but they are expensive and fade quickly when they spend a long time in the sun. They’re almost always used indoors in businesses with high profit margins, such as jewelry stores or luxury retailers.
  • Backlit Vinyl or Fabric. Backlit vinyl and fabric signs are made by stretching the printed material tightly across a backlit frame. When this is done right, it’s hard to tell that the sign is not a single solid object. This type of sign is used for lots of retail displays, especially ones that are meant for long-term use. Since stretching the printed part of the sign correctly takes some effort, the prints are usually not swapped out very often.
  • Inkjet Backlit Film. Inkjet backlit film signs are printed on polyester using a two-step process. First, an inkjet printer prints an ink-receptive base onto the fabric. Then, a latex printer prints the final sign design over that. The result is a high-quality sign that rivals photographic transparency film signs in graphical fidelity but is significantly cheaper. They can be used both indoors and outdoors to great effect.
  • Adhesive Translucent Vinyl. Adhesive translucent vinyl signs are made of a film that is permanently attached to acrylic or Lexan. This type of sign is highly durable and is well-suited for outdoor display. Many businesses use them as part of their permanent storefront displays.

Getting the Most Out of Backlit Signs

Getting backlit signs right can be tricky. Here are a few things to consider when designing them.

  • Colour. You can change the colours of the LEDs in your lightbox. Most businesses go with either warm white or cool white. Warm white will make your sign look inviting and comfortable, while cool light will give it an almost blue glow that looks very sleek and professional. Think about which tone is right for your business and customize your colours to match it.
  • Viewing Distance. Most people will see your sign from far away, not up close. How does it look from that distance? Can you see it well? What about at an angle?
  • Placement. Backlit signs need to be fabricated differently depending on their placement. Signs made for the outdoors need to be brighter, weatherproof and more durable, but indoor signs can get away with using less resilient materials. Indoor signs also shouldn’t be as intense as outdoor ones.
  • Depth and Spacing. Lights that are placed close together create a brighter, more intense glow than ones spaced far apart. The depth of the lightbox also plays a role in the intensity of the effect. Shallow lightboxes are very bright, while deeper ones have a softer, more subdued glow.
  • Ambient Light. Lightboxes are usually not bright enough to grab much attention on their own. Support your lightbox with some ambient light to make it more obvious and attractive.

Important Tips for Backlit Signs

The work doesn’t end there! Here are a few more things to think about when buying a backlit sign.

  • Use the Right Power Supply. If too much power is routed into your LEDs, they will burn out. If not enough power is available, however, your power supply will burn out instead.
  • Check for Hot Spots. Hot spots are places where your LED lights are too bright relative to the rest of the sign. If you see any of these, you’ll need to adjust the lighting in the frame.
  • Match the Angle of Your LEDs with the Depth of Your Lightbox. Shallow lightboxes need wide-angle LEDs to look their best.

Get Expertly Crafted Backlit Signs from Sign & Graphics Manufaktur

It’s time to put your business in the spotlight with professionally crafted backlit signs from The Sign & Graphics Manufaktur. Our team includes designers, fabricators, and installation techs ready to help you create gorgeous lightboxes for your business. Give us a call today at 905-670-0797, or get in touch with us online to get the process started.


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