office (403) 279-9060
fax (403) 279-9078

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do we need to know in order to quote on your sign project?
A: What is the size of the sign (width * height)? How many signs are involved (quantity)? What is the sign going to be made of (substrate)? How many colours? Do you wish us to do the installation?

Q: How is a sign made?
A: Most signs are designed on the computer, the lettering and graphics are cut out of coloured vinyl and applied to a backing called the substrate. 3D letters and/or graphics can be cut from a variety of materials as an alternative to vinyl. Small signs can be engraved on Rowmark or made as decals or fridge magnetics. Screen printing, in sufficient quantities, is an economic alternative to cut vinyl.

Q: What is the best way to give Atlas Signs your ideas for sign layout?
A: Fax us at 403-279-9078 with a sketch of what you want. Be sure to include your name and phone & fax numbers so we can get back you. If you have computer graphics, send them via e-mail to Our favourite file formats, in descending preference, are EPS (Encapsulated Post Script), AI (Adobe Illustrate), CDR (Corel Draw Version 7 or earlier), WMF (Windows Meta-File), TIF or BMP (bit maps).

Q: Is a substrate required?
A: No. Cut vinyl lettering and graphics can be applied directly to any clean, smooth surface such as a window, vehicle or even an existing sign. We can install your vinyl or supply cut vinyl decals for you to install. We also can make paint stencils - either from reusable plastic or single use paint masks when sharper images are required.

Q: What is important to know about applying vinyl?
A: Vinyl can only be applied when the temperature is five degrees Celsius or greater, preferably with little or no wind. The vinyl is taped into position, portions of the backing is removed, and, the vinyl is then squeegeed onto the surface. It is possible to apply vinyl outdoors, but only under ideal weather conditions. Common problems in laying vinyl are maintaining alignment and avoiding air bubbles.

Q: Can vinyl be removed?
A: Vinyl can be peeled and removed by applying moderate heat from a hairdryer-like tool. The younger the vinyl, the easier it is to remove and less likely to have discoloured the substrate. Peeled vinyl cannot be reused. Chemical solvents can help when heat alone will not remove it.

Q: What substrates are used to make signs?
A: Temporary signs are commonly made from Coroplast or Banner material. Permanent signs are commonly made from Crezon, Aluminum, Sintra, Intecel, Acrylic, Lexan, or Styrene. All these materials come in white -- some can be painted if colour is required.

Q: What is Coroplast?
A: Coroplast is a plastic cardboard. Sheets 4' x 8' x 4mm white is most common. Other available colours are Red, Sapphire Blue, Black, Yellow, Dark Green, Brown, Grey, Beige, Orange and Peacock Blue.

Q: What is a Styrene?
A: Styrene is a dense plastic which is only available in white in thickness of 0.01", 0.02", 0.04" and 0.06". It is an economical choice when the sign is to be placed against another solid surface.

Q: What is a Banner?
A: Banners are reinforced vinyl. Its most common form is rolled 10 oz. white which hems to a finished width of 22", 34" and 46". Other colours, weights, and widths are available. Most banners are made with grommets (brass reinforced holes) placed approximately every 2 feet around the perimeter of the banner. Upgrading to 16 oz. may be required either to add strength if there is wind exposure or to allow for colour. Most coloured banner material is only available in 16 oz.

Q: What is Crezon?
A: Crezon is exterior grade plywood. Crezon is the work horse of the sign industry offering a life expectancy of 4-7 years. Its most common form is sheets 4' x 8' x ½". It takes paint well and is easy to cut.

Q: What is Sintra?
A: Sintra is a plastic (polyvinyl chloride -- PVC) with a nice matte finish. Sintra is a brand name. There are other comparable products with names like Monocel. It comes in a variety of thicknesses -- the most common are 3mm and 6mm. White is the most common and the cheapest colour. Other colours available are Dark Blue, Dark Red, Bright Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Teal, Gray, Light Gray, Beige and Black.

Q: What offers greater durability than Crezon?
A: Intecel is a plastic alternative to Crezon -- lighter, stronger and much more durable. Aluminum is also very durable - thinner and heavier. Both of these substrates will outlast any vinyl that is put on them.

Q: What should I know about Aluminum signs?
A: Aluminum offers superb durability. Its most common thicknesses are 0.064" and 0.080" (highway sign grade). A reflective surface is available.

Q: What are illuminated back lit sign faces made of?
A: Illuminated back lit signs are most often made from 4.5mm sign white Acrylic. This product can be purchased in either sheet or rolled form. Clear and coloured acrylic are also available. Where impact resistance is required, Acrylic will be replaced with either Lexan or Tuffak.

Q: What types of vinyl are available?
A: Regular vinyl is 3.5mil Calendar. It has a 5 year life expectancy and is available in about 40 colours. Premium vinyl is 2mil Cast. It has an 8 year life expectancy and there are a few more colours to choose from. Metallic, Gemstone, Pearlescent and Reflective vinyls are also suitable for outdoors and will yield a 5 year life expectancy. Polyesters are recommended for indoors only. Flourescents will last only about 6 months. Etched Glass will last 6-8 years and is suitable for outdoors.

Q: How are signs priced?
A: Sign substrates and the lettering applied are mostly priced by area. The price per ft2 of cut vinyl will decrease with order size and depends upon the quality of the vinyl. Screen printing pricing is much more job related. Screen printing will be more expensive than cut vinyl for jobs with less than about 30-40 ft2 in total area. 3D letters, engraving and stencils are mostly dependent upon cutting time and so is the only type of signage which is based on the number of letters. Other factors affecting sign price are additional cutting for small signs, painting and installation. Sign substrates in order of price (lowest to highest) are 0.02" White Styrene, 4mm White Coroplast, 0.03" White Styrene, 4mm Colored Coroplast, 10 Oz. White Banner, 0.04" White Styrene, 10 Oz. Coloured Banner, 0.06" White Styrene, 3mm White Sintra, 3mm Coloured Sintra, 12mm White Crezon, 0.03" White Magnetic, 0.04" White Aluminum, 4.5mm White Acrylic, 0.064" White Aluminum, 0.080" White Aluminum. Vinyls in order of price (lowest to highest) are Regular Calendar, Paint Mask, Premium Cast, Polyester, Metallic, Etched Glass, Translucent, Pearlescent, Flourescent, Holographic, Gemstone, Reflective.