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Good to Know Guide: Flat & Built Up Lettering

Built Up Lettering

When is comes to choosing a sign for your business, there are lots of options.  So many in fact, it can get a bit confusing. To help you out, we have put together one of our ‘Good-To-Know Guides’ for Signage Lettering.

Types of Letters:

a) Flat Cut Metal and Acrylic Letters

Metal can be easily formed in any font or shape and can be painted in any colour. Aluminium is better for smaller signs as the material can be cost prohibitive for larger signs.  Acrylic can also be painted a specific colour or you can choose from a standard set of pigmented colours. Pigmented acrylic has the advantage that it doesn’t rust, chip or peel.

b) Foamex Letters

Choose from 5, 10, 13 or 19 mm thickness and mount either flat onto your wall or raised on stand-offs. Letters can be spray-painted to your specified RAL colour in matt or gloss finish. Alternatively, each foamex letter can be faced with acrylic, metal or di-bond to improve durability and add a more premium feel.

c) Built Up Letters (also known as 3D or Channel letters)

If your sign is too big for flat-cut-out lettering or if you want to add a bit of depth and interest to your sign, built up or 3D letters are the way to go. They can be made in brushed or painted metal including stainless steel or aluminium and painted any colour. They can also have lights built into each letter.

d) Illuminated Built Up Letters

i) Front Lit

Each letter is illuminated through the front of the letter only. They are either machine made (trim cap) or hand made (Let-R-Edge). Trim cap letters last about 7 years, they are cheaper but more difficult to maintain and can be damaged easily when cleaning.  Let-R-Edge letters last up to 40 years, are more robust and easier to clean but are more expensive.

ii) Halo Lit (or Reverse Lit)

Popular due to the unique lighting “wash” behind the letters when illuminated. The illumination is created by LED fitted inside each letter.  It is important to choose tested LEDs and to fit correctly to ensure an even glow. Halo Lit Built Up Letters can be made of any material and finish as they don’t require the light to shine through.  Examples include brushed metal, stainless steel or painted aluminium.

iii) Open Lit

If you want your sign to have a retro feel, open channel lettering is a good choice. Each letter does not have a face and the neon tubing or LED is exposed.

Don’t forget, it is also possible to combine open, reverse and front lit built-up lettering in the same sign.  For example, your business emblem could be face lit with your business name reverse lit.  The creative possibilities are endless. For advice, just call and we can talk through the many options with you. Our in-house design team can draw up some options for you to get those creative juices flowing.

Types of Mounts:

Your sign can either be mounted flush to the wall, away from the wall on pins or on a rail.  The choice you make will depend on the look you want, whether or not you are illuminating your sign and whether or not you have access to the interior wall behind the sign and finally, the condition of the wall onto which you are mounting the sign.

a) Flush Mounted

Letters are simply mounted or bonded flush to the wall. This style of mount is suitable for non-illuminated flat cut letters or illuminated front lit built up letters. For it to work, your wall needs to be even and have a stable surface. For illuminated front lit letters, you will also need to be able to access the wall behind the sign to accommodate the wiring and power packs. A hole is drilled in the wall behind each letter to allow the cables be pushed through and connected to the power pack mounted on the interior wall.

b) Pin Mounted (also called stud or stand-offs)

If you want to give additional dimensions to your display, studs are used to pin the letters off the wall. This is essential for Halo Lit signs in order to create the glow behind each letter.  Each letter has to be pinned off the wall by at least 0.5cm.

c) Rail Mounted

If your wall cannot support flush or pin mounting, rails can be built of aluminium tubing and painted to match the wall. The letters are then pinned to the rail. For example, your wall may be an old uneven brick wall or you may not want to drill holes in the wall.






d) Tray Mounted

If your sign has front lit or halo lit lettering but you do not have access to the interior wall behind the sign, you will need to build a mounting structure called a tray or a raceway to enclose all the electrical power packs and transformers. Letters are then mounted onto the tray and the tray is mounted onto the wall. Our trays are typically manufactured to hinge open, which will reduce service costs in the future.

For some more inspiration on exterior signage for your business, have a look at our Pinterest Board.