Channel Letter Considerations

When working with channel letters, it’s not just a matter of buying a set of letters and putting it up on someone’s building. The first and most important step is to know what your local regulator, typically your municipality, and the landlord or owner of the space will allow. A majority of channel letter projects are installed for tenants of strip malls and shopping centers. These centers will usually have their own specifications—normally dealing with the style and color of the letters—in addition to any local requirements. Additional considerations include:

  • Determine the square footage needed for the size of the letters—a local requirement.
     
  • Determine whether it is the square footage of the storefront that will determine the square footage of the sign. Typically, you’re allowed one and half times the storefront, so if you have a 20’ storefront you can go up to 34 square feet.
     
  • However, different cities may have different ways of measuring the square footage of your sign. Some may take the highest letter and make a square from that high point that encompasses the length of the sign to figure out square footage.
     
  • Once you have determined the allowable space for your letters, take a digital picture of the front of the building and use your computer to superimpose the letters on that picture.
     
  • Discuss with the landlord which type of installation is preferred—a raceway, or individual letters.
     
  • Another factor is to show the customer not only the cost estimate for the sign, but the artwork with sizing and cut sheets that show the details of the letters, like trim caps and returns. The better the customer understands these elements, the easier it is to sell.
     
  • The choice of lighting will be determined by the parameters of the project: How large the letters are, the style of channel letter (front lit, backlit or halo, front lit/backlit and reverse, where there’s no face on the letter and lighting source is exposed) and the subjective aesthetics.

Of course there are many other considerations that must be made before a channel letter job can be completed. These are but a few.