Signs: To Frame or Not to Frame

Whenever I see a sign, piece of artwork, or any other object on a wall that is not straight, I try to restrain myself and walk on without fixing it. However, waiting rooms or airports are the worst. You are almost confined on your seat, forced to look at the end product of sloppiness. It’s like it’s looking at you, saying, “Yes, I’m here. I’m crooked. Fix me.”

When I see this happen, I wonder why the person who made the artwork or designed or installed the sign didn’t do it right. Even if it’s just a little sign, the attention to detail creates your profit. I don’t need to see perfection everywhere, but if you don’t care, why do it at all? Take pride in even the simplest sign.

Typical modern signage, meaning the plain rectangular signs, have to be finished nicely. If you mount a square sign to the wall and it is one millimeter off, you will notice it. Moreover, a visible screw or a smudge of left-over glue or kit paste just outside of the sign is unacceptable. All these add up to the sloppy result that no one feels happy about in the end.

One possible solution to avoiding sloppiness is sign frames. Frames have two features:

Mounting (technical) feature

You install the frame first, which defines the exact placement of a sign in a building. When the sign needs replacing, you can simply pull out the sign itself and place a new sign inside the existing frame. The preferred way will always be the use of screws. It is a more durable method, and the whole installment is easier to remove and reinstall should the walls need to be repainted. Your sign will always be back in the same spot.

Visual (aesthetic) feature

A nice-looking frame adds a touch of character to a sign, just the same as you would frame a picture or painting. It makes your sign stand out.

So, what if you don’t have rectangular signs? How do you frame them?

You can’t, and that’s OK. Creativity is the key to making a difference. Don’t shy away from thinking outside of straight lines. Something that looks a bit different attracts more attention, and it puts greater emphasis on the message.

Without frames, you can use any material you want. You can go much further in quality, functionality, and creativity by using premium materials like steel, aluminum, wood, and glass and stylishly combining them.

To install them, you need a mounting solution that allows for easy removal when needed. Additionally, going frameless and premium does not mean you are going more expensive. It is often considered that fully customized signage of premium materials is more expensive because it offers higher quality and looks better. This is not the case. You are removing the cost of the frame, which then allows you to add to customization and overall higher quality of the sign.

Paul Kock Signdev

Paul Koch


Paul Koch is the founder of Signdev and has been employed in the graphic and sign industry since 1993. Working as a signmaker for 10+ years, he gained expertise in sign manufacturing, vinyl applications, car wrapping, and sign construction. Now, he is the product developer and designer at Signdev, focusing on designing sign and wayfinding systems. Paul is also partner at Modulex Group in Greece where he develops complete high-end wayfinding solutions and strategies for the hospitality, healthcare, and public sector.

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