Standoff systems

Using Standoff Systems to Mount Masterpieces

Duane Fast is a Vancouver, Canada-based Interpretive Graphics Consultant with 30 years experience as GM of Artcraft Display Graphics Inc., an international manufacturer of interpretive graphics and exhibits. He retired in 2015.

“Attachment is your biggest strength, and your biggest weakness.”
—Shahid Kapoor

Creating a signage masterpiece is only half the battle. How one attaches this masterpiece to its display setting is equally important. The entire appearance of signage can be irrevocably altered—for good or bad—by the mounting method used. The strength of the attachment is obviously critical, but so is the appearance. The “look” of the mounts has to be as dazzling the “look” of the units.

Architectural signage mounting systems offer a lot of options for high-class and sturdy attachments. The most common types fit into a few categories explained here.


Standoffs provide the basic structure for most architectural signage systems. They provide a method for attaching signs to walls and buildings in a beautiful and sturdy fashion.

There are a number of variations on the theme, each providing a different attachment solution. The original standoffs were simple post-and-barrel systems. A threaded anchor post went into the attachment surface, the barrel structure screwed onto the post, the sign panel was attached to the barrel using a shallow pan-head bolt and finally a decorative cap topped it all off. This elegantly simple system formed the basis for a whole new industry revolving around architectural signage mounts.

The other main type of standoff is the edge-grip system. These have a slot along one side that will grip a sign panel using hidden set screws. These are useful for mounting signs, which for aesthetic, practical or structural reasons, cannot have holes drilled in them.

Wire Suspension Systems

The addition of aircraft cable to the standoff line-up has added another dimension to this oeuvre. Aircraft cable is an extremely strong, yet thin and unobtrusive, stainless steel wire that is used in a variety of industries because of its strength and appearance. When hanging signs from a ceiling using this cable, the industry has a standard clip that can be used to fasten the cables in a loop to hold the sign in place. These clips, however, are very industrial looking, and do not fit with the overall appearance of an expensive architectural sign panel. A modified standoff barrel became the solution for this problem, providing an elegant fastening device.

Another solution that developed was the tensioned system. In this process the cables are tensioned vertically on either side of the sign panel and the panel is attached to the cables using the edge-grip units mentioned previously. The tensioning of the cables is achieved with an internal turnbuckle system that is completely hidden in the standoff.

Rod and Post Systems

In the rod and post system, rods essentially replace the aircraft cables to provide a rigid alternative. It also allows for a lot of creativity in designing not only attachment systems, but also structures that maintain the same “look” as the rest of the fasteners. These can include shelves, end tables and POP or museum displays.

Rail Systems

Rails were added to the standoff lineup to allow an adjustable track to be attached to a wall. The standoffs or turnbuckles are attached to the track and can be moved around to accommodate changing signage sizes. This is particularly useful for POP displays or museum exhibits which change regularly. There are also rails engineered to hold banners in place.

Standoffs were engineered to provide sturdy, attractive mounting solutions for signage. They are available in a huge assortment of styles, colors and sizes and can fit almost any architectural signage-fastening requirement. There are a number of manufacturers of architectural fasteners in the marketplace. One of the leaders in the industry, and one of the most innovative developers, is Gyford Standoff Systems ( It’s worth a look around the Internet to research theirs and other systems to get ideas about what’s available.