Create the design: 30 minutes I did a layout in Gerber Graphix Advantage software, then output a paper pattern and perforated it.
Cut panel and coat: 40 minutes I cut the aluminum composite material to shape using a jigsaw, then primed and finished it. Once dry, I applied the digital print in the center.
Pounce pattern and letter: 60 minutes I chose to hand letter the main copy and shadow rather than use cut vinyl, so I perforated the pattern, pounced it, then did the white lettering.
Paint borders: 30 minutes I taped off and painted the tan border and the light blue inset outline. Mixing the custom colors took about 15 minutes.
I hand lettered the primary copy then added the wide dark blue shadow with the brush—no need for a pattern for that.
The shadow added a little dimension and extra interest. The typeface is Phoenix by the late Mike Stevens [available in the shop].
Cut and apply secondary copy: 20 minutes I used tan vinyl film for the secondary lettering. The typeface is Stevens Percepta Demi from It only took a minute to apply the carved gold leaf diamond.

What’s it cost to produce this 18-by-60-in. flat sign?

This residential sign uses enamel, vinyl and a digital print

By David Showalter

Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Aluminum composite panel — $40
Digital print $mdash; $50
Paint (primer plus four colors) — $55
  Total materials — $145

Design/prep file — 30 min.
Cutout shape — 20 min.
Prime/finish coats — 20 min.
Pattern/pounce — 30 min.
Mix custom paint colors — 15 min.
Hand letter — 35 min.
Paint borders — 30 min.
Cut/apply vinyl — 20 min.
  Total time — About 3.5 hours
I often do signs for residences, mostly vacation cottages and lake houses. Folks take pride in these weekend getaways and it’s always fun to produce this type of signage. I always make them extra special by using art, custom shapes and colors.

This sign was for a lake house that the owner named Endless Summer, which is also the name of a flower. They wanted an image of that flower used on the sign. At 18-by-60-in. it’s on the larger side of the range of residential signs.

The design was straightforward. I used blue for the background, keeping with the color of both the lake water and flowers. The inner border is light blue on the navy background. The outer border is painted in a tan/brown because the house siding is a light tan. The name Frazer and Est. 1986 was done in sandstone HP vinyl.

On this sign I hand lettered the main copy and added a dark blue shadow, though most would probably opt to do that in cut vinyl film. I added the 23K gold diamond to add a little shine. Even just a bit of gold leaf makes a nice accent and catches the eye. I make diamonds like this in a batch in advance, then keep them on hand for just for this type of sign.

Of course the steps, materials and time involved on a sign like this are the same as if it were a sign for a law office or a small retail shop. Smaller signs like these don’t necessarily mean a savings of production time. Setting up and doing most of the steps doesn’t take much less time than a sign twice this size. If you don’t keep that in mind when pricing signs like these, you may find the profit went out the door with the sign when the customer picked it up.

David Showalter’s shop, David Design, is in Bryan, Ohio.

Read this article and many more like it with a membership to SignCraft.

Already a Member? Click here to log in.
- or -
Join today for full access to all of our exclusive content!
- or -
New users get 7 days FREE — Register Now!