Real estate sign materials

What Is the Best Material for Real Estate Signs?

One of the most important decisions you will make when ordering realty signs is what material to have them printed on. What is the best material for real estate signs? It depends on what you plan to use the signs for, where you plan to use them, and what your expectations are for your signs.

Choosing a Real Estate Sign Material

Your choice of sign material will impact both the longevity of your signs and the cost of your signs. Certain materials perform better in particular environments and weather conditions than others. Because of this, location can have an impact on what material real estate signs are made of. Still, a few options can work well in almost any environment. Costs vary depending on the material’s supply chain or if it’s especially difficult to manufacture.

If you are shopping for signs, bear in mind that the material of the sign is often referred to as the “substrate.” Don’t let vocabulary scare you. In the printing industry, a “substrate” is simply “the surface you print on.” There is a range of possible materials to choose from, including plastic, metal, composite, and more.

What Material Are Real Estate Signs Made Of?


Manufacturers seldom make real estate signs out of cardboard. As a material, it’s best suited for indoor use. Cardboard will not hold up if used outside. It’s best to use cardboard for high-quantity orders when price is your top priority and durability is not a concern.

Corrugated Plastic

Real estate signs are sometimes made from corrugated plastic, a long-established and economical material. As with cardboard, when budget outweighs durability, corrugated plastic may be the logical choice. In comparison with cardboard, corrugated plastic is much more durable. The structure resembles cardboard, but the base material is not porous. As a result, it is a more appropriate sign material for use outdoors compared to paper-based substrates.


Wood is an inexpensive alternative to corrugated plastic; however, most sign suppliers have shifted away from using wood materials for real estate signs. While you can use wood signs for short periods in dry conditions, wood will absorb moisture over time. This results in swelling and chipping of the sign’s printed design. Because of this weakness, wood has lost its popularity as a real estate sign material. You can expect a wooden sign to last around a year with proper care.


Like all plastics, polystyrene is lightweight, resistant to scratching, and relatively durable. It stands up to nearly all weather conditions. Polystyrene’s primary disadvantage is that thinner sheets of it can bow — especially with temperature changes. Additionally, it can yellow over time, but not enough to cause a problem for most sign buyers. Lastly, in freezing weather, polystyrene, like many plastics, can become brittle. In cold weather, plastic can crack, especially when subjected to a hard impact.

Polystyrene is particularly effective when used as a panel in an open house or directional sign. Its light weight makes it easy to transport. Keep in mind, if you order polystyrene as a sign panel that’s riveted to a frame, you don’t have to worry about the sign bowing.


Composite materials combine different substrates to create signs that provide the advantages of both. Furthermore, multiple substrates can offset the shortcomings of individual components. It is possible to have the best of both worlds with a composite material like Durabond. Unlike metal or thin plastic panels, composite panels won’t bend or dent. Although composites like Durabond are corrosion-resistant like standalone aluminum, they are often less expensive than aluminum on its own. Generally, composites come at a lower price than most materials with comparable benefits.


Steel is a strong material. When it comes to signs, steel is like an armored car — it is strong, but comes with a cost. Steel signs are sturdy, but they are also heavy. The weight of steel signs is nearly three times greater than that of aluminum signs. Steel signs may rust in humid and coastal climates.


In addition to steel, manufacturers often use aluminum as a real estate sign material. Like steel, aluminum has its pros and cons. Aluminum is relatively lightweight, and it’s resistant to rust. Unlike steel and many other metals, you don’t have to add a coating or additive to aluminum to make it corrosion-resistant. A thin protective coating forms naturally on the outside of bare aluminum. As a result, aluminum does not rust, even when scratched. Unfortunately, aluminum is a relatively soft material when used on its own, making it vulnerable to bending and denting if not part of an aluminum composite. Solid aluminum is also comparatively expensive.

Reflective Materials

Some materials, such as Durabond from Dee Sign, can be coated with a light-reflecting material. This is particularly useful for signs that do not have supplemental lighting and rely on passing car headlights for illumination at night.


In this article, we covered the pros and cons of the materials most commonly used for real estate signs. What is the best material for real estate signs? Depending on the type of signs you intend to use, where you intend to place them, and what your goals are for them, the answer to that question will vary.

If you want help deciding what material to use for your real estate signs, contact Dee Sign at 800.DEE.SIGN. You can also send us a message here, or ask your question in the comments below.

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