Design & Price: Graphics for an enclosed trailer

By signcraft

Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2021

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In every issue, SignCraft gives a few sign makers an imaginary project. We asked them to do a sketch of the sign they might have produced and quote a price for the job. Most of the details are left to the designer’s imagination. The object was to see how different sign makers approached the same project. Here’s the scenario these sign makers were given:

A landscaper brings by his new white 16-ft. enclosed trailer for a price on lettering. You did the basic lettering he wanted on his pickup last year, and now he wants “Something a little nicer” for his new trailer. Make a sketch of what you might suggest and quote a price.

From SignCraft Sept/Oct 2006; prices have been adjusted for inflation.


Les Heckingbottom
Stick With Us Sign
Karratha, Western Australia

This is the sort of work I really enjoy. Large blank panels, a green light from the client, and the imagination moves into overdrive. I’ve done a lot of trailer work for local sporting and community groups, and because I love doing them I’ve been happy to become a sponsor and letter their trailers. Most can be done relatively quickly using the correct procedures. The finished product is not only a professional image for our client, but also promotes the work we can do.

As this job is for a repeat customer, we’ve already been through the initial preamble about the colors and style required. They were impressed with the initial signage (or they wouldn’t be back) and now are looking to upgrade their trailer. I would again emphasize the importance of “flow” in their corporate image—their vehicle signage should tie in with their business cards, shop signs, website, letterheads, shirts, etc.

I would also mention the importance of the vehicle and trailer signage because these will be sitting in front of every job they do. Advertising their work while they are on site or driving to or from sites should help generate business and be very beneficial to someone in their line of work.

I would also discuss the possibility of upgrading the ute [that’s Aussie for “pickup truck”—Editors] graphics at the same time to match the new trailer, and attempt to work out their approximate budget. I’d show them a few examples of previous works in the different price brackets. As they have done very well since we signed their ute and they are very agreeable to our suggestions, I produced the proposed layout.

I usually do only one or two layouts to begin with, as too many choices can be distracting and confusing. Since I have a good knowledge of this client, this part is fairly easy. Of course they’ll be delighted with what they see and will agree on upgrading the ute as well.

The proposed signage would be a combination of a spray-painted background fade, sprayed or hand-painted graphic and logo, and cast vinyl sub text. We will use Solver Bright Glow Enamel paints, Poly-U 400 hardener, Avery cast vinyl and application tape for hand-cut masks, SummaSign Series Pro D610, experience and imagination.


Trailer sides @ $690 per side: $ 1380 US

Trailer rear: $396 US

Total price: $1776 US plus tax


Gord Colenutt
Colenutt Signs
Essex, Ontario, Canada

Since I had done some work on this customer’s pickup the year before, I already had an idea of what he did and didn’t like—and a feel for what he’d be willing to spend. I knew I could ask him straight out about his budget and expect an honest answer.

I’ll usually do two sketches just to get my creativity going, and because I don’t like throwing too much at a customer at once. Reviewing too many sketches seems to get people confused, and they end up trying to pick and choose the elements they like so that they can mash them into one new design. Once he’s chosen the layout he likes best, we arrange a time for him to bring the trailer to the shop.

I prefer working in the evening—the phones aren’t ringing, no one stops in, and the customer is happy because his trailer isn’t out of service during his workday. The next morning he can pick it up (check in hand) and get to work.

While I’ve got him here I’ll offer to change the lettering on his truck, and set him up with some new site signs. Everything should tie together to create one clear image that customers can recognize. Usually I’ll offer a discount as part of a package deal—that’s if he takes me up on the offer to do the whole project at the same time. Since I’ll be printing these on the Roland VersaCAMM SP-300V, I can go by square footage to get an accurate price range.


Design A:

Redesign: $200

Trailer sides: 100 sq. ft. @ $19/sq. ft. $1900

Rear: 20 sq. ft. $374

Total price: $2474 plus tax

Design B:

Redesign: $200

Trailer sides (no photograph): $1685

Rear: $374

Total price plus tax (no optional picture) $2259

Picture of a recent job (optional, on one side) $560

Total price plus tax (with picture) $2819


Vince Balistreri
Vince Balistreri Signs Orlando, Florida

Design A:

If the design I did earlier for this customer’s pick-up satisfied him, I would use it in the trailer layout. The design is clean and direct, so I’d rearrange the copy to fit the 16-ft. trailer and explain to the customer that it will read like a mini billboard. My price would reflect a new layout, but since I have the original art I’d keep my sketch fees to a minimum—especially for a good or repeat customer.

Sketch: $135

Clean and prep: $107

Vinyl and labor: $1268

Remove and replace screws so vinyl would lay flat: $100

Total: $1610 plus tax

Design B:

Large-format printers can make our job easier and can help a layout, too. I think a complete wrap would be a waste of money for this particular job. I would select photos from my customer’s files or take some of my own—a good photo of a “prize yard” would go a long way toward representing the quality of a man’s work. Another option is to feature a different photograph on the back of the trailer, just for some variety.

Sketch: $135

Clean and prep: $107

Vinyl and labor: $868

Digital prints and installation: $1518

Remove and replace screws so vinyl would lay flat: $100

Total: $2728 plus tax

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x