Basic sign structures: Posts, Boxes and Fences

By Gary Anderson

Posted on Friday, June 4th, 2021

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The structures that support freestanding signs can do a lot more than hold up the sign faces. They are a part of the sign as a whole and if you do it right, they can add a tremendous amount of appeal and effectiveness. This adds a lot of value to your signs.

Most sign structures fall into one of these three broad categories. Note that these are all very practical structures. I seldom have the luxury of working with clients with limitless budgets, so I find these structures are a great way to get more impact out of a sign without going overboard on costs.

Posts: I like to make posts more of an architectural element by scaling them up and exploring the many ways a post or group of posts can be manipulated. This is probably one of the most noticeable differences in my designs.

Boxes: This structure provides a lot of opportunities for more bang for your buck. There are plenty of design opportunities using pressure-treated lumber, various grooved and textured plywood and other readily available building materials. These structures include monoliths, which have the look of a slab emerging from the ground.

Fences: Here’s a great way to add mass and variety without the expense of stone. You can design your own fence or use a ready-made one and make some interesting modifications to it.

Sign structures should work with the design to further the image created by the sign. Sometimes as I design the structure, I consider the building’s architecture if it’s appealing and appropriate. In other cases the structure might be offbeat or whimsical to tie into the sign’s message. By thinking about the structure from the beginning of the design process, you get a cohesive package that really helps deliver the sign’s message.

If a skeleton is built from treated lumber, the size of the post is unlimited. You can use plywood to build the post cover. You may need two posts protruding from the bottom of large post covers for better installation.

Gary Anderson’s shop, Bloomington Design, is in Bloomington, Indiana. Now retired, he has contributed to SignCraft for over 35 years, and authored two books: Signs, Graphics & Other Neat Stuff and More Signs, Graphics & Other Neat Stuff, both published by SignCraft.