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How to Preserve Outdoor Signs

February 7, 2020

Signs are practically everywhere you turn in cities and communities, both indoors and outdoors. It’s probably obvious that indoor signs have more longevity than outdoor signs, which are subject to climate conditions and vandalism. Here are concepts to understand and maximize outdoor signs so that they last as long as possible.

Why Sign Longevity Matters

No outdoor sign is going to last over a century, unless it’s made of the most durable materials and it’s well preserved. Street signs tend to have a longevity of about 10-15 years before needing to be fixed or replaced. Severe weather and sunshine can each take a heavy toll on even robust aluminum signs, not usually on a daily basis, but over many years.

Many local governments that pay for these signs don’t have unlimited budgets like the federal government, which can borrow as much as it wants from the Federal Reserve, based on how Congress votes. That money is literally invented out of thin air as it’s borrowed, which is true of big banks borrowing from the Fed as well. States and local governments, however, don’t have this luxury of creating money when they need it. States depend on state taxes and federal funding, while local governments usually depend on local taxes and state funding.

Local government budgets are simply much tighter, so they have to watch more closely how they spend money. Many cities and states even operate on a budget deficit (just like the federal government, except it gets to create money whereas states and cities can’t). But at the same time, local governments are required to replace street signs once they become faded or damaged to the point they can no longer be understood. So the more cities focus on sign efficiency, the less they’ll need to spend in the long-term.

Keys to Efficient Outdoor Sign Investments

Getting the most amount of usage out of outdoor signs comes down to the durability of the material and where signs are placed. The most reliable long-term solution is an aluminum sign with reflective coating. Not only does the reflectivity make the sign more visible at night, it adds a layer of protection from rain, snow, flying debris and vandalism. Aluminum is one of the strongest and most reliable materials for long-term usage of many outdoor products, which is why auto bodies are commonly made of aluminum or steel. Plastics play a growing role in vehicle manufacturing, but mainly under the hood.

Smart designers are currently working on better solutions for making steel, aluminum and plastics withstand weather and provide greater economic efficiency. For now, aluminum is still the most efficient solution for investing in outdoor signs.


The best way to protect outdoor signs and make them last as long as possible is to use metal solutions with reflective coating over materials that degrade faster such as wood and plastic. Placing the sign in the shade rather than in direct sunlight adds to its durability. Contact us at Zumar to learn more about how to use and protect outdoor signs, as well as any other questions you have about signage.

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