How Environmental Factors Can Effect the Life of Your Signs

safety signThe environment plays a large part in the impact that a sign will have. The longevity of a sign is affected by many factors. These include:

  • The amount of exposure to the sun
  • The range of temperatures where the sign will be located
  • The surface colour of the sign, red fades the most.
  • The environment where the sign will be installed, an exposed location will reduce the life of your sign, or an area with high levels of traffic will be affected by pollutants.
  • The chemical composition of the films
  • The thickness of the ink coating
  • The amount of UV radiation that the sign will have, i.e. a shaded location will prolong the life of your sign.

Although each of these factors influence how long your sign will last and so the effectiveness of the message, there is little doubt that the most significant factor in sign longevity is UV radiation. A protective overlay film (POF) can be over-laminated protective overlay filmon to any aluminium or rigid plastic sign to give a greater degree of protection to the sign face. It allows:

  • Easier removal of Graffiti
  • Resistance to scuffs
  • UV protection – anti fade
  • Easier to clean
  • Prolongs life of sign

All signage material manufacturers use a worldwide standard rating system to determine the life of material based on application being 90 degrees vertical and facing north. However, one of the most important pieces of advice in positioning your sign is to get it absolutely right. If mount your sign with a slight tilt i.e tilting the sign backwards by as little as 5 degrees and you will reduce the life of the sign by approximately 50 percent.

Whilst UV light is the most important, other environmental factors that affect the life of the sign, which could damage your signs, are dirt, salt, acid rain, general pollution and more. All of these factors can reduce the life span of your signage, and need to be taken in to consideration. Our Safety Signs – How to clean your safety signs guide offer advice on general maintenance and up keep of your signs.  The type of fixing you choose can also effect the life of your sign, our article on Tips for the Care and Installation of Vitreous Enamel Signs  highlights the need for correct fixing methods Vitreous enamel signs. Other guides regarding the installation of general signage are as follows:

How to Install Your Signs – Part 1- Self Adhesive Vinyl Signs

How to install your signs – Part 2 – Choosing the right sign post height

How to install your signs – Part 3 – Installation of standard safety signs and general signage

How to install your signs – Part 4 – Sign Fixings
To ensure that you have a sign that is cost-effective, conveys your message clearly and lasts, then you need to pay attention to detail across every aspect of development.

  • Choose the right material for your sign, based on the conditions that it will be placed in. Our Sales Team would be happy to advise you on the best sign materials for your needs.
  • Make sure that your sign substrate or vinyl is free of any contaminants by washing with a mild detergent first and when dried wiping with a solvent saturated cloth.
  • Position your sign to reduce the affect that the environment will have on it.

Emergency Way Guidance using Photoluminescent Material

Photoluminescent way guidance

This photo was taken in the stairwell here at Stocksigns illustrating the intensity of the luminosity of Hilume.

In situations of emergency evacuation, especially when confronted by power failure, a way guidance system using photoluminescent tapes, signs and markers will help to indicate clearly defined escape routes, saving critical time for the evacuation of the building.

BS 5266-6: 1999, is a Code of Practice for non-electrical low mounted way guidance marking using a photoluminescent system. It recommends how to plan, design, install and maintain the system when used in conjunction with powered emergency lighting. The use of this standard, combines with BS ISO 16069:2004, Graphical symbols-Safety signs – Safety way guidance systems and BS 5499-4: 2000, Code of Practice for escape route signs, gives the answers to most questions that could be asked from those contemplating installing a photoluminescent way guidance system.

The installation of a photolumiescent way guidance system does not replace the use of powered emergency lighting when this is required, but compliments its existence. For a satisfactory performance, photoluminescent materials require initial activation from a good light source.

Water Safety Signs

National Water Safety Signs

The recently published part II of BS5499. provides a uniform family of water safety signs based on the signs produced by the National Water Safety Committee. These signs should be used at al locations where sport or recreational activities are taking place, to warn the public of possible hazards or dangerous situations and to give specific instructions for their safety.

Water Safety Signs

There are three main types of water safety signs you will find when you are around water. Each one has its own meaning, but all of them work to the same system. If you go to the seaside, then there are sometimes special flags to also look out for.

In addition to the water safety signs, you will also find information signs telling you where the toilets are or where you can get first aid. They will also tell you where the public rescue equipment is held.

Water safety signs

This sign means: Beware - Deep Water1. Hazard signs -Signs that warn you of danger, are always:
  • Triangle shaped
  • Yellow background, with black symbols
  • They are placed to help you spot a hazard that is not always obvious

They mean that you should be aware of something 

                                               2. Prohibition signs – This sign means: No DivingSigns that mean you should not do something, are always:
  • A red ring shape, with a line running through
  • White background, red line and black symbols or shapes
  • They inform you of things you are not supposed to do

These signs tell you that it would be dangerous to do something, or go in that place.

This sign means: Lifejackets must be worn.

3. Mandatory signs -Signs that mean you should do something, are always:

  • Blue and circle shaped
  • White symbols or shapes
  • They inform you of things you need to do

These signs tell you that you should do something to be safe.

Other signs you might see:

This sign means: Rescue equipment (this way).

Information signs, are always:

  • White background
  • Black symbols or text

These signs help you either find something, or get somewhere.

First Aid safety signsSafe condition signs, are always:Green background

  • White symbols or text

These signs tell you where important safety items are such as the first aid place, or the emergency telephone.

A red warning flag.Water safety flags

At beaches there are flags to tell us when and where it is safe to use the water.

This red flag means it is unsafe to be in the water.


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents For more information on general water safety

Tips for the Care and Installation of Vitreous Enamel Signs

Care & Installation of Vitreous Enamel signs

1    What is Vitreous enamel?

    Vitreous enamel is a glass-like coating which is fused onto steel at
    temperatures of 750-860 degrees C
    The enamel will exhibit all of the properties associated with glass including :
         •Hardness                                          •Colour Stability
         •Scratch & Graffiti Resistance           •Fire Resistance

care of vitreous enamel signs2     Vitreous enamel signs need to be carefully treated as if they were glass:

    a)    Carefully remove signs & any fixings from packaging.

    b)     Handle with care using protective gloves as there may be sharp edges & avoid dropping or hitting the signs.

    c)     Use stainless steel, brass or zinc coated fixings.

    d)     Ensure a soft protective washer ( plastic or fibre ) is used at all fixing points between the fixing & the sign surface.

    e)   Do not drill or enlarge holes as this will crack the enamel

    f)      Clean every two months with mild soapy water – ensuring there are no abrasives or grit on the cloth or sponge . For  stubborn marks use a non    abrasive bathroom cleaner.

3     Installation of Vitreous Enamel Signs

    a)    An enamelled sign pantray with return edges should never be fixed directly onto a hard or rough surface – the installation of vitreous enamel signslocalised compression which could occur on high points may cause chipping or spalling & possibly cause corrosion on the return edge.
    b)     Where an enamelled sign has to be fixed to an uneven or rough surface it should be spaced off from that surface to avoid localised pressure points.
    c)     If the sign is to be installed in a coastal or corrosive environment additional protection will be needed to the sign edge if slight corrosion is to be avoided. Edges of enamelled signs are  difficult to completely coat with enamel and so additional protection against corrosion may be equired. Protection can be given by exterior mastic, waterproof tape  or a rubber or plastic moulding. Alternatively the edge can be protected & hidden by an outer frame. Our technical sales department will be fixing vitreous enamel signshappy to advise.protecting vitreous enamel signs For more information about Vitreous Enamel signage contact our sales team at