What’s it cost to produce this building directory?

By Duncan Wilkie

Posted on Friday, April 28th, 2023

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The Dominion Hotel Building’s owner came to us by referral and inquired if we could build a directory. The building is circa 1930 and in a historic area of the city. The existing directory simply looked out of place. It did not reflect the era of the building, and updating the list of tenants was difficult.


34 Standoff caps and T-nuts: $185

24 sq. ft. 1⁄2-in. MDF: $27

6 sq. ft. 3mm aluminum composite panel material: $43

2 sq. ft. 3mm acrylic sheet: $21

Total: $276


Concept, design and create production files: 8 hrs.

Route and profile components and letters: 3 hrs.

Paint components and letters: 2 hrs.

Prepare and image tenant blades: 2 hrs.

Final assembly: 2 hrs.

Installation time on site: 1⁄2 hr.

Total time: 17 1⁄2 hrs.

We presented the client with samples of our work and assured him that we would improve both the look and the function of the directory board. This would be achieved by extracting colors and architectural elements from the building decor, selecting appropriate fonts and bringing it all together in attractive functional design.

Photographs and color matches were obtained, and the design process began. The basic shape and layout were made based on the site survey results and the number of tenants to be accommodated. The molding profile and the keystone were elements extracted from the building architecture.

Following this, it was time to pick the fonts and colors. The colors, two shades of brown, light beige and gold were taken from interior trim and wall colors.

The name of the building suggested something strong yet elegant. The classic simplicity of Hensler from LetterheadFonts.com fit the criteria with style and grace. Back in the day, the tenant text would have been hand lettered so LHF Garner was chosen for its simplicity and ease of readability.

The client was pleased with the thought and effort we put into the design process. Approval, along with the deposit, followed promptly and the production process began. Production drawings were created and approved, and fabrication was started.

Most of the components were cut from a single piece of 1⁄2-in. MDF. Chamfers and profiles were added with a trim router. On the back side of the directory panel, T-nuts accept the Standoff Caps [www.standoffsystems.com] that hold the tenant panels.

All the components were first dry fitted then broken back down and painted. The Dominion Hotel Building letters were routed out and painted. The base structure was assembled with glue and brads. Tenant nameplates were prepared from 3mm aluminum composite material.

The lettering and keystone were bonded to the backer. This was followed by mounting the tenant text on the blades and installing them on the finished directory board with gold anodized Standoff caps.

Installation on site was a simple task. The fasteners are hidden behind the removable blades. The building owner is pleased with the function and look of his new directory, and we have a satisfied new client.

Duncan Wilkie, Comsign, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

This appeared in the March/April 2011 issue of SignCraft. While the prices have been adjusted for inflation, they may not accurately reflect current pricing for such signage.

Router-cut components from MDF (medium-density fiberboard)

Profile components as required with a trim router

Install T-nuts on back of backer

Router-cut small letters for header

Paint all components

Fabricate nameplates from prefinished Dibond

Assemble the sign

Drill directory panel holes

Bond keystone and letters and mount blades with Gyford standoffs


Here’s the sign it replaced.


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Kathy Gernold
Kathy Gernold
1 year ago

Looks great! Definitely a better replacement!

Don Ramsey
Don Ramsey
1 year ago

Original 0 out of 0 – 100
Replacement 100 out of 0 – 100

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