Guide to Portable Signs: Signage that Follows the Action

Signs don’t have to be stationary. A portable sign can hugely expand your range of exposure. Easy to set up, break down, and reposition, portable signs are a simple signage solution that can stay up for as long or as short as you’d like. Portable signs come in a variety of forms, each with their own specific benefits and uses. But the overarching advantage of a movable sign is clear: portable signs can go exactly where you need them.

Why You Might Need Portable Signs

Not sure if you should invest in permanent building signage or portable signs? Here are common use cases when portable signage could be a huge advantage:

  • Your space is temporary, or mobile: Do you run a food truck? Sell your products at tradeshows, fairs, and outdoor markets? Are you renting a booth or a kiosk in a shopping center or at a convention? Does your business only operate on a seasonal basis? You need signage that can be packed up and taken with you when it’s time to close up shop or move to another location.
  • Your business offerings change regularly: Do your menu items rotate daily? Do you offer seasonal sales? Do you host live music acts on the regular? You need signage that can be quickly updated and changed out.
  • Your business is a bit off the beaten path: Is your building just off the main strip of a busy tourist area? Are you located off a highway exit, but not visible from the road? Portable signs can be placed in areas where people will see them, and point them in your direction.

  • Your work isn’t bound to a single address: Do you offer landscaping services throughout a specific neighborhood? Do you sell homes or commercial real estate? Do you deliver within a given residential area? If your customers never need to come to your place of business, it makes more sense to place signs at the site of the transaction.
  • Your business is located in a large complex: Do customers sometimes have trouble finding you amid your building complex? Do you get a lot of questions about where the front door is, or where to park? Portable signs can clear up these minor confusions so that customers have a better experience.

  • You need to cover a lot of ground: Do you have a big event coming up, like a concert or community fair? Do you need to raise awareness about an issue, like an election or government bill? Portable signs allow you to bring attention to your cause, and are much more visible and durable than posters.
  • You need to notify people of something, but only temporarily: Is a certain part of public space closed off for repairs? Is your building’s entryway slippery during the winter months? A portable sign can be put up as needed, and taken down when the issue is no longer relevant.



Advantages of Mobile Signs vs. Permanent Signs

Portability is of course the keyword when it comes to signs that aren’t fixed to a given location. The ability to move or distribute a sign an be crucial to your needs as a business or organization. Here are a few advantages, beyond the ability to place them anywhere and take them with you, that mobile signs have over permanent ones:

  • Lower price point: Mobile signs are significantly less expensive than permanent signage. Depending on your budget and needs, it may not make sense for you to invest in permanent signage when portable signage brings the same results for cheaper.
  • Test out many possibilities: Print out a variety of messages and try different placements for each. With mobile signs, you can get a feel of which signs are most effective, and where.
  • City ordinances: Some locales have strict rules about how large, high, or bright your sign can be. Portable signs can be solution if a permanent sign doesn’t fit within the parameters of the city code.


Types of Portable Signs

So you think a portable sign may be a good fit for your business or cause. But what is the best kind of sign for your needs? Here are the most common types of portable signs, and which situations they are best for:

Yard Signs

When most people think about these kinds of signs, they picture a small rectangle on a stake in someone’s lawn. While this is certainly one of the most ubiquitous uses of yard signs (and where they got their name), yard signs don’t need to be on a residential property. Yard sign can also refer to the same type of signage in public spaces. Most typically, yard signs are displayed on stakes lightly hammered into the earth. They are often made from corrugated plastic, which is durable, lightweight, and inexpensive.

Common uses for yard signs

  • Real estate signs
  • Home security notices
  • School or team pride placards
  • Advertisement for home services like delivery, landscaping, or cleaning
  • Advertisement for community events
  • Political signs, for upcoming elections or legislation
  • Notices for temporary safety hazards
  • Directional signs
  • Parking spot signs
  • Roadside ads, to direct people to a nearby business

Yard Sign Materials

For their many uses, yard signs typically come in one of two materials: corrugated plastic or aluminum. Which sign material you choose should depend on your budget and the look you’d like to achieve.

Corrugated Plastic Yard Signs

Corrugated plastic is basically plastic cardboard, and the primary manufacturer is Coroplast. Coroplast is incredibly light weight and durable, and makes for an excellent printing material. Colors print vibrantly onto Coroplast, and the prints can withstand several months of beating from sun, rain, wind, and snow before beginning to fade. Coroplast is also very inexpensive, so it tends to be a popular choice for those who need many prints on a budget.

Aluminum Yard Signs

Aluminum yard signs are more sophisticated, more expensive alternative to Coroplast yard signs. Aluminum sheeting is also incredibly lightweight (though a bit heavier than corrugated plastic), so these signs are also extremely portable and versatile. Both pure aluminum sheets as well as composite aluminum Dibond panels are popular options for metal yard signs. Many high-end real estate agencies prefer to use aluminum for their yard signs as the look is more polished than Coroplast.

Display Options for Yard Signs

There are plenty of ways to display yard signs, so take some time to consider which options fits best with the overall purpose and aesthetic of your sign:

  • Single stake: for single-sided prints, a single wooden stake is adhered to the back of the sign and insterted into the ground.
  • Internal stakes: metal stakes are attached between the external panels of a yard sign and inserted into the ground. Double-sided prints are compatible with this display method.
  • Frame: a metal frame surrounds the sign, and its feet are inserted into the ground. Double-sided prints are compatible with this display method.
  • Hanging: Grommeted holes are punched at the top corners of the sign. The sign is then either hung from an existing structure, or from a dig post specific for this purpose. Double-sided prints are compatible with this display method. We don’t recommend this method for particularly windy areas, as the print will flap around.


A-Frame Sidewalk Signs

Sidewalk signs stand alone without needing to be dug into the earth. This makes them even easier to set up and break down than yard signs. Your typical A-frame sign is built from PVC (we use Sintra brand PVC), an incredibly sturdy and weather-proof material. Sintra is heavy enough to stand up against the wind, but not so heavy that you won’t be able to pack up the sign at the end of the business day. When ordering a sidewalk sign, you can choose to have a specific image printed onto both sides, or you can opt to have pockets installed. If you go with the pocket option, you can change out the images that you display on a regular basis.

Common Uses of A-Frame Signs

  • Placed on the sidewalk outside a restaurant or venue, to advertise the specials or lineup for the day.
  • Placed in the lobby of large buildings, to direct people to a special event or conference.
  • As menu or pricing boards for mobile vendors, like food trucks or farmers’ market vendors.
  • As signage for indoor booths and kiosks, like in shopping malls, convention centers, or expositions.
  • For directional signage at big events, like festivals, markets, and conferences.


Have more questions about portable signs and what they can do for your event or business? Call us at 858.880.7771 or leave a comment below!