Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2023
For every issue, SignCraft gives a few sign makers an imaginary project. We ask them to do a sketch of the sign they might have produced, and to quote a price for the job. Most of the details are left to the designer’s imagination. The object is to see how different sign makers approach the same project. Here’s the scenario these sign makers were given:
A custom homebuilder who you’ve done a lot of work for would like four single-faced site signs. His primary concern is durability, as he hopes to move the signs from one construction site to another. Make a sketch of the sign you might have designed for the customer and quote a price.
This appeared in the March/April 2005 issue of SignCraft. While the prices have been adjusted for inflation, they may not accurately reflect current pricing for such signage.
John Deaton, Deaton Design, Harlan, Kentucky
Design A: This simple layout has two colors of vinyl film on a white background, quick to lay out and quick to complete.
Price: $220 per sign or $880 for four signs
Design B: This layout has four colors of vinyl on a colored background and would require more time for lay out and fabrication.
Price: $281 per sign or $1124 for four signs
I sometimes get to do this type of sign, but usually the customer wants corrugated plastic because it’s less expensive. Since the customer wants these signs to be durable, I would use 1⁄2-in. overlaid plywood, edge sealed with wood filler, primed and painted with Porter acrylic latex paint. The lettering would be vinyl film. I would either do something simple or more colorful, depending on the customer’s preference.
Russ Mills, Artcraft Signs & Design, Pineville, Kentucky
Design A: If a contractor comes in off the street wanting a simple but durable sign, I’d use 1⁄2-in. overlaid plywood finished with exterior acrylic latex paints and lettered with premium 3M or Oracal vinyl film. I sometimes give a quantity price for a large quantity of signs that can be screen-printed.
Design fee: $114
Four 2-by-4-ft. single-sided signs: $228 each
Design B: This design is more typical of the work I do with contractors for whom I have designed a logo. I’d use 1⁄2-in. overlaid plywood finished with Rhino and Porter acrylic latex paints and premium vinyl film. I’d use a paint mask for the mantle-type panel and scroll border. The burgundy border would be painted, with vinyl lettering.
Four 2-by-4-ft. single-sided signs: $304 each
Diane & Dave Malesky, Summit Signs, Coopersburg, Pennsylvania
Prestige Construction is similar to one of our customers. He’s an upscale builder and remodeler who likes to convey quality work in his signs. His clientele is primarily professionals. This particular customer has purchased many signs and truck-lettering projects from us, and we use his logo and graphics on all of his projects. Initially, we gave him several designs to choose from and worked with him to create the final layout that he desired. For a good customer such as this, we will offer a discount of 10 to 25 percent, depending on the customer.
We offer a quality product that will serve the customer for many years. We explain that this advertising will continue to work much longer than a newspaper ad or other means of advertising. Plus, by being on-site, his potential customers can see the quality of his work. Our customer loves his site signs and has had many inquiries from them. That’s good. We’re doing our job and we all win—the customer, his customers and us.
These signs are 3-by-4-ft. custom-shaped black LusterBoard panels [www.laminatorsinc.com] with high-performance vinyl film and enamel finish.
LusterBoard sign panel: $61
1Shot enamel and Sign Primer: $38
12 to 14 yds. high-performance vinyl film: $99
Total materials after 100% markup: $396
Design layout: $76
Cut pattern and sign: $76
Paint borders 1 hour: $76
Cut, weed and mask vinyl 1 hour: $76
Apply vinyl 1 hour: $76
Total selling price per sign: $776
A 20-percent discount would be given for two to five signs. The optional posts are black 8-by-4-by-4-ft. pressure-treated posts with burgundy ball finials, caps trim and routed lines.
Two pressure-treated posts: $30
SignFoam ball finials: $58
Total materials after 100% markup: $206
Cut, rout, construct, prime and paint including brackets and hardware 3 hours: $228
Total selling price per post: $217
A 20-percent discount would be given for two to five posts.
Harry Oresko, Harry’s Signs, Inc., Brea, California
I consider this type of sign a yard sign usually mounted on a 4-ft. metal step stake. It’s usually 18-by-24-in. or 24-by-36-in. but custom sizes and shapes are not a problem. Inexpensive signs are usually done on corrugated plastic, hardboard, steel or aluminum blanks. For this size I would use 1⁄2-in., Good Two Sides (G2S) overlaid plywood. Fifty percent of customers have a logo or letter style they are using, but if not, this is something I would design for them.
Overlaid plywood cut to size, primed and painted edges: $30
Hardware and drilling holes for mounting: $30
Computer time – 1 hour: $91
Cut, weed, mask and apply one color: $68
Total selling price 1 to 4 signs: $219 per sign
4 to 12 signs: $210 per sign