Custom Signs: 10 Substrates to Intrigue, Inform & Wow

Custom Signs: 10 Substrates to Intrigue, Inform & Wow

At Smartpress, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to signage. And we heard you – combing through the gamut of substrates, display options, hardware and uses can indeed be a daunting task! So we’ve made your shopping experience much easier – and more informative – by breaking out signs by type. Oh, and there’s an added perk: now that we’ve categorized custom signs, our pricing is better, too!

Custom signs printed on different substrates stacked on top of each other.

Top-3 Considerations



Where is it going? Substrates for outdoor signs are better resistant to weather and the elements. While every “outdoor” sign can indeed be used indoors, it doesn’t always work the other way around.


How will it be displayed? As you design your sign with our online printing services, consider if it needs to hang across an entrance or be posted on a wall. If both sides need to be seen, a substrate that can be printed on two sides will be necessary.

How long do you need it to last? Is this something you’ll reuse year after year or for a one-time event? Consider whether it will remain safely untouched or come into contact with curious hands and passing shoulders.


Upon determining your answers, start exploring the unique features of our 10 Custom Signs substrates to find your perfect fit for online printing with Smartpress.


Indoor Signage

Indoor Signs are intended to intrigue, compel, inform, direct and promote. While the design needs to be eye-catching, the material sets the tone for the overall effect. Match your needs with the unique qualities of these Indoor Signs:


Styrene Signs

An economical material, polystyrene allows you to showcase a vibrant, detailed print across a smooth surface. It’s a leading choice for retail businesses, restaurants and promotional events since it’s lightweight and durable. Polystyrene signs offer a sophisticated look for short-term advertisement.


Foam Board Signs (Foamcore)

Professional, economical and lightweight, foam board signs feature a smooth cardstock surface with a foam center. Since they display beautifully on a wall or easel, and can also feature two-sided printing, they are a top choice for marketing events, trade shows and visual presentations.


Cardstock Signs

Cardstock is pliable like a poster, but with coating and more rigidity to serve your needs for presentations, POP displays and hanging signage. Print can be showcased on both sides.

Honeycomb Cardboard Signs (Falconboard)

The biodegradable alternative to foam board, honeycomb cardboard is uniquely designed with a white cardstock surface and honeycomb kraft core. This makes it rigid, durable and extremely lightweight – perfect for retail marketing, presentations and trade shows. It’s also an affordable choice that can be printed on two sides.


Polystyrene Foam Signs

A sophisticated, strong and scratch-resistant substrate, polystyrene foam is an ideal solution for high-traffic areas in offices and retail stores. It is crafted with a foam core and faced with polystyrene sheets, so it’s designed to flex while offering significant durability.

Outdoor Signage

Outdoor Signs grab attention and drive awareness. And while a compelling design is important, the material you use is the foundation to ensure the sign upholds your needs. (Keep in mind that anything made for outside can work indoors, too!)


Corrugated Plastic Signs

Durable, lightweight and waterproof, corrugated plastic is an ideal solution for all outdoor signage. It’s commonly used for real estate and political advertising, as well as directional and sidewalk signage. Coroplast is made of fluted plastic and can be printed on two sides.


PVC Foam Signs (Expanded PVC)

Because PVC is durable and rigid, it can withstand harsh weather and UV rays while still offering a vibrant print. In fact, it can last for years when properly cared for! In your choice of white or black, PVC Signs can be printed on both sides. Hang them at trade shows, outside a storefront or above a crowd.


Aluminum Signs

Aluminum Signs are extremely durable and resistant to harsh weather and UV rays. They are built to last with a solid plastic core and faced with white painted aluminum sheets. Aluminum Signs are the leading substrate for parking and real estate signs, as well as business and corporate advertising. They can be printed on both sides.

Clear Signs (PETG)

Known for being 5x stronger than acrylic, PETG is nearly impossible to break and thus is great for hanging in high-traffic areas or protectively lining your POP displays. It’s also a beautiful option for window displays with its lightweight low-profile and pliable rigidity. You should only print on one side since the material is clear, but you can create depth by adding a second printed surface where artwork would show from behind.


Clear Acrylic Signs

With a thick, glass-like aesthetic, a Clear Acrylic Sign is a highly professional way to showcase your business name and logo. It’s also strongly rigid and weather-resistant. You should only print on one side since the material is clear, but you can create depth by adding a second printed surface where artwork would show from behind.






Hint: Get more signage inspo:



Old Irving Brewing Co.
Foxing Design by Corey Danks, Designer + Illustrator
Red Rose Design by Kawika Asuncion & Ogi Eyewear
Bella & Beau
Philosophy & Design by Marisa Iliakis
Cutters Point Coffee Co.
Josh Nelson & Jeff Babko Design by Paul Rivera
The Kovar Brothers Design by Kovar Design & Illustration
The Un-Sneaker Design by Samuel Hubbard
Congrats Design by B Schneider for CreativeMornings/MSPB

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