While some might not agree that the frame is better than the picture, everyone can concur that nothing enhances the appearance of a good sign more than a beautiful frame. Whether it be a simple extrusion or a hand-carved labor of love, a frame can provide the extra element that elevates the signage to another level. While this alone is a good enough motive to offer the services of framing, there are many other compelling reasons, such as offering additional services, expanding product lines and increasing sales.
Signage frames come in a variety of styles to suit many different needs. Some of the most common types of frames can be loosely grouped into five categories.
Edge-cap systems are usually not meant for easy changeability of the graphics, but rather for more permanent installations. Their purpose is to protect the edges of signs, facilitate mounting and add beauty to the installation. They range from inexpensive plastic extrusions meant only for keeping the moisture out of the edges of plywood to professional systems made out of anodized aluminum.
Changeability is sometimes an important factor with signage. Advertising needs to change regularly to attract people’s attention. Also, when one makes it easier for a client to change their graphics, they will likely change them more often, thereby ordering more prints. Snap frames are a common way to achieve this effect. The spring-loaded sides of the frames snap open to allow effortless signage swapping. Locking versions are available as well for that extra level of security. Deeper frames allow for a thin polycarbonate facial to further protect the graphics.
The ultimate in easy changeability is the slide frame. It simply has a slot in the top or one of the sides and graphics just slide in. Not the most elegant—but simple, inexpensive and effective.
Banners are an inexpensive way to cover a large area with graphics, but they can be a challenge to install in an attractive manner. Fortunately banner frames have evolved greatly over the years. The formerly expensive, cumbersome and difficult units are now affordable, easy to use and beautiful to see.
Graffiti and vandalism are rapidly escalating scourges of the sign industry. No substrate is tough enough to withstand a determined vandal. The answer is a sacrificial covering. A layer of clear polycarbonate will absorb the blows, the knives and the graffiti of the maddening hordes. When it becomes badly damaged, simply replace the facial with a new piece of polycarbonate. It’s a fraction the price of replacing the entire sign and 100% recyclable.
Signage supply houses carry many types of extrusions for holding the polycarbonate in place on top of your sign. These units generally have slots molded into the extrusion to carry a backboard, the sign panel and a clear polycarbonate facial. The best units look like architectural masterpieces, smooth, sleek and sexy, with anodized finishes, vandal-proof fasteners and prices to match. Perfectly adequate models are also available at much lower prices. You’ll have to finish these yourself, but that just means that you get to pick the color.
Product choices are important. Be careful; a poorly made frame can only lead to frustration. Incorrect quality levels of plastic, for example, can break down too quickly outdoors. Using steel instead of aluminum can cause rusting. Inadequate design or construction may result in difficulties assembling, mounting or changing graphics.
There are, however, a number of high quality manufacturers. Companies like Fast Change Frames (Alpina Mfg.) design and produce all of their products locally for complete quality control. They also offer custom sizes and thicknesses for perfect matches to client needs.
Framing not only adds that extra level of sophistication to signs, but also increases a sign’s flexibility and durability. It’s a simple service that adds untold value to a product.