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ADA Sign Material: Which Is Right for Your Project?

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Choosing the appropriate sign material for an ADA-compliant display can be a challenge. Even long-time sign shop owners may experience doubt when a business enlists their help to complete such a project. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when selecting the right material, including but not limited to…

Further, if a sign shop doesn’t have the capabilities to produce ADA signage and plans to outsource an order, there are additional issues that need to be addressed beforehand.

Does the third party have several material options available?

Do the technicians actually know how to work with the chosen material?

Does their shop contain the necessary equipment to cut, shape, and finish the signage?

Having sufficient knowledge of ADA sign material options and understanding what questions to ask a third-party fabricator are vital to ensuring that a sign shop gets the best finished product possible for their client.

Factors to Consider When Selecting ADA Sign Material

When an ADA sign order is placed, there are some key pieces of information that the sign shop needs to obtain. In the initial discussion with the client, the following questions should be asked:

The good news is that these are common questions to pose to a new or potential client. However, since signs need to adhere to strict guidelines to achieve ADA compliancy, the client’s answers will have a greater impact on the material options that are available to them.

Consider these factors when helping a client choose the right ADA sign material for their project.

Application – Will the sign be located inside or outside?

Those who are looking to install ADA signage inside their building have more flexibility when it comes to selecting sign material. Given that buildings are climate controlled and closed off from the elements, there’s no risk of signage being damaged by heat or wind. However, there’s still opportunity for ADA displays to suffer general wear and tear, as well as vandalism, if they’re installed indoors.

It’s important to remember that if the material fails, the message is lost. This means that businesses could be hit with fines or lawsuits if their ADA signage isn’t performing as it should. To avoid such an issue, sign shops should recommend a strong, long-lasting sign material to any client in the market for interior ADA signage.

High-pressure laminate and cast acrylic are excellent choices for interior ADA signage, as they’re both durable materials that require little maintenance. By having their signs made from either of these materials, clients can feel confident they won’t have to pay for repair or replacement for years to come.

Design – Is there an aesthetic the sign needs to fit?

Though high-pressure laminate and cast acrylic are fairly versatile, they may not fit a client’s existing aesthetic. If there is a particular design that a client has in mind, the sign shop may want to consider recommending a different material. That way, there will be a clear, cohesive theme throughout all of the client’s displays, which is especially important for branding purposes.

For example, if a client has a modern, industrial aesthetic in their building, chances are they don’t want their ADA signage to clash. In that case, a sign material such as chemetal, which has an attractive metallic finish, may be a good choice.

Other specialty material options include Corian, which can mimic the appearance of stone, and frosted acrylic, which looks similar to glass.

Since one of the biggest limitations of ADA signage is that it must have a non-glare finish, it’s important to weed out the material options that could cause compliance issues.

Budget – How much can the client afford to spend on their ADA signage?

As with anything else, sign material options vary in terms of price. If a client is unable or unwilling to spend more on their ADA signage, it may be better to opt for a less expensive material. However, it’s important to make sure the client has reasonable expectations if they choose a lower-quality material.

There are limitations with plastic materials, as some have the potential to wear quicker. Plus, they aren’t as attractive as other options, so they may be an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful building.

Sign shop owners should consider pointing out to clients that spending slightly more on signage now means they likely won’t have to worry about repairing or replacing it for several years, thereby saving on sign-related costs.

Characteristics of a Good Third-Party Sign Fabricator

In the event that a sign shop needs to outsource a client’s ADA signage order to a third party, there are a few characteristics to look for before making a final decision.

If a sign fabricator only produces signage in two or three types, it may be worth choosing another, especially if a client has already stated that they’re looking for a particular look or price point.

It’s best to opt for a third party that offers ADA signage in specialty materials such as chemetal and Corian, as well as time-tested materials such as cast acrylic. That way, the sign shop can turn around and present the client with these options, positioning itself as an excellent resource for ADA signage in various types.

Though a third-party fabricator may have several sign material options in stock, it doesn’t necessarily mean their team is equally skilled in working with all of them. And the last thing any sign shop wants is to deliver a mediocre or low-quality sign to a client, knowing the sign shop’s name will be attached to it.

Those interested in outsourcing should research the third-party team and their previous work to determine whether it’s up to the sign shop’s standards before making a commitment.

Again, though a fabricator may have several types of material available, it’s always a good idea to make sure they have the correct equipment and tools as well. Otherwise, a sign shop risks delivering ADA signage to their client that is misshapen or just poorly finished.

Sign shops should look for third parties that possess equipment such as routers, engravers, photopolymer processors, paint booths, and hot stamp machines.


Providing a client with valuable information about the various ADA sign material options on the market can help build a sign shop’s credibility. And by partnering with a third-party fabricator, sign shops can ensure that their clients receive the best ADA signage possible in the material of their choice.

Filed Under: Design and Customization

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