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Portland Residents Have Fun Stencils So Can You!

stencilArtists in Portland have taken to the streets to update old, boring stenciled road markers. Super heroes and football stars are just some of the fun paintings you’ll see on the streets.

GoLocalPDX described the stencils as “happy road markers.” Residents of Portland can now have an extra smile in their day thanks to bike markings with bunny ears and woman super heroes.

Does your school parking lot, business location or town need some cheer? We can help! Alphabet Signs can make a stencil from just about any picture or file you have, and we make them in all sizes!

Send us your file, and we’ll get it quoted for you in a business day. Production time is usually only 1 business day, as well.

We have stencils for almost any application. You can customize your own stencil with lettering, or buy one of our popular pre-designed stencils, like No Parking or Stop. These stencils are available in many sizes. If the specifications of our stencils don’t meet your needs, let us know. We can change the strokes, letter width, etc. to meet your specs.

Remember that every 3 inches of letter can be seen from 50 feet away. For example, if you buy a 4 inch stencil, you can see those letters from about 70 feet away under normal conditions. If drivers are moving particularly fast, you may want to consider a larger size. Most of our stencils come in Highway Gothic, which the standard font for roads and parking lots. If you choose another font or make a custom stencil, also keep in mind that fancy fonts, cursive lettering and very narrow words can be hard to read from a distance.

The stencils we offer are a 1/10th inch thick and made for reuse over and over. They can be washed or wiped clean. You can also let the paint dry, then crack it off. We recommend using a water-based paint, as this will wash off the best. If you use an oil-based paint, be sure to put down a layer of WD-40 first, as this will ease in removing the paint from the stencil.

If you need a stencil that’s for more of a craft use, we also offer 7mm thick Mylar stencils. These stencils need to be used with care and not wiped harshly. You also can’t let these stencils dry, then crack the paint off, as they’ll just start to peel and become unusable.

Maybe you’re in the market for a handicap stencil? We have them for every state, even the newest one for New York state. The handicap stencils come in a 1/16th inch thickness or a 1/10th inch thickness. Either stencil is made to be used many times and is considered industrial strength. The 1/10th inch thick stencils will typically lay flat shortly after unrolling from the shipping box. The 1/16th inch thick stencils may need to be put in a warm room or in the sun for a few hours to lay flat. Since th 1/16th inch thick material may not lay totally flat, you will need to be careful about under spray when applying paint.

Where to start to buy a marquee sign?

Buying a marquee sign can be daunting. What size? What colors? What size letters? How does it mount? What does my township require? And on and on and on.

Alphabet Signs offers a variety of marquee signs. We have pedestal mount marquees, brick mount marquees, portable marquees, economy marquees…(do you feel like Bubba Gump with shrimp yet?).

Seriously. There are tons of choices for marquees, and our inquiry page is a great place to start. Let us know, in general or specifically, what size marquee and letters you want, colors, etc. We can send you a custom design and price in about a business day or so.

marquee-pedestal-letters-pronto pronto-letters-black marquee-sign-changeable-letters

If a brand new marquee isn’t quite in your budget, talk to us about getting high quality tracks and letters that will last a lifetime. You can mount these tracks and letters to any smooth surface and make your own marquee for a fraction of the cost!

What Does the Mounting Hardware Look Like for Bulletin or Letter Boards?

Mounting Bulletin Boards or Letter Boards can be confusing, if you aren’t sure what you’ll be receiving. The picture below shows a simple image of the hardware included when you order a board from us. This hardware is included for both indoor or outdoor units.

Hardware for Aarco boards

Basically, you will receive two cleats, which mount to the top of the board on the back, and two L brackets, which mount to the bottom of the board for support. You will receive the screws you need to attach the cleats and L brackets to the board, but you’ll need to get the hardware to fasten the hardware into your mounting surface.


These boards mount well into cement block, brick, stone or drywall. Uneven surfaces can be challenging, and it might be helpful to mount the board to a piece of plywood first for the best support.

If mounting the sign to a wall isn’t what you had in mind, you can order posts and make the sign freestanding. These posts are 2 inches x 2 inches x 96 inches and made of the same high quality extruded aluminum as the cabinet. The hardware to attach the board to the posts will be included with your shipment, and the holes are already pre-drilled to attach the posts. We recommend that you sink the posts into the ground at least three feet. The picture below shows an example of a letter board mounted with posts.

Bulletin board with header and black powdercoat

Can I Get a Letter Board Without a Frame?

Letter board panels can bring an old, dull cabinet back to life. These open face panels might be hard to find locally or online, but Alphabet Signs will do any size from 12 inches by 8 inches to 96 inches by 48 inches in felt or vinyl material. The panel is cut to the quarter inch increment, so it’s no problem to make a custom cut panel that is 55 1/2 inches by 25 3/4 inches, for example.

Coppa Sandwiches

To answer the question “Can I get a letter board without a frame?”
…keep reading…

Short answer: grooved felt or vinyl can not be sold without the fiberboard backing and aluminum frame.

Long answer: many customers want to get creative with their signs and just order the material, like grooved felt or vinyl. The process of making the felt or vinyl have grooves is a little more complicated than just pulling it off a roll. First, a 1/2 inch piece of fiberboard is cut to your specific size. Next, the felt or vinyl in your color choice is laid on top. Then, a saw that has blades every 1/4 inch rolls the felt or vinyl into the fiberboard to create the grooves for directory letters. Finally, an aluminum band is placed around the fiberboard and felt or vinyl top to give the board a finished look.

Alphabet Signs can typically produce these custom cut boards in about 5 business days plus 2-4 days in transit. We offer several colors, and you can even get an unfinished oak wooden frame, if you prefer.



The “New” New York Handicap Stencil Makes its debut

Handicap Stencils used to be uniform for all states. There were some variations for different municipalities or other special circumstances, but for the most part, Handicap Stencils were all  39″ international standard across the board.

New York recently released their new version of the popular parking spot stencil.

The new symbol depicts the head moving forward and the arms pointing backwards. This is to indicate the person using that spot still has an “active status of navigating the world.” The leg was also moved forward, away from the wheel. This allows for a more crisp image and easy visibility for drivers.

The shape of the person in the wheelchair is consistent with the old logo, as well as other states’ markings, as to not create confusion amongst drivers. The wheel has two knockouts, or bridges, which allows for easier paint spraying of the stencil on pavement.

Alphabet Signs carries this stencil, as well as other states’ handicap stencils. These stencils are typically turned around the same day before 2pm.

Where do I get Vinyl Logos Made?

Alphabet Signs can make letters, numbers and punctuation in several colors, fonts and sizes. We are not setup to handle logos or graphics, however. To get these made, you will need to try a local sign shop. Some common chains are Signs by Tomorrow, Signarama or FastSigns.  Any of those companies should be able to help with larger graphics, too, as we are only set up to handle vinyl lettering up to 12 inches tall.

The picture below shows some vinyl sign lettering with a logo. We cut this customer’s lettering at a very affordable cost, and she was able to get her logo done locally.

Vinyl lettering with logo

On our website, you will want to check out the online vinyl lettering designer. Here, you’ll be able to type in your vinyl sign lettering and see what each font looks like before you order. The sign designer will show approximate dimensions, but if you have special needs regarding layout or sizing, let us know when you order.

Additionally, the vinyl sign lettering will be made to stick on the outside of a window, car, boat or any other smooth, non-porous surface. We can make your letters mirror cut, if you would prefer, so the sticker is on the inside of the window facing out; let us know when you order, and we’ll be will be happy to meet any of those needs.

We offer Standard, Premium or Reflective Vinyl Lettering.  Standard Vinyl is great for smooth surfaces, like business windows, store front doors or smooth homemade plywood signs. Premium Vinyl is a little thinner, so it wraps around curved surfaces well, like cars, boats or cement light poles. Reflective Vinyl is great for mailboxes or company vehicles that work night shift.

Alphabet Signs can typically turn vinyl sign letters around in 1 business day.

Where do I Find Banner Board Letters?

Banner Board letters from yesteryear are getting harder and harder to find. The letters below are plastic and have plastic clips on the back to attach to the metal board. The boards look similar to the inner copy boards used with metal church letters, but the letters are much different.

Banner Board Letters

The letters were made from an injection molded plastic then had plastic J-Clips glued onto its back. The J-Clips would hang over the rails of the Banner Board. The J-Clips fit snugly and made them very wind resistant which made the Banner Boards very popular.

I think the letters were made from an outfit out of Broward County FL but their phone had been disconnected and I lost touch of them. There is also a similar style sign letter but is made from stamped steel from an outfit named Commander Board that was originally out of St. Louis, MO.

Alphabet Signs offers several other options for letters, if you need to change your letter system away from Banner Board style letters.

Pronto letters are thick, high-quality letters that go into clear acrylic tracks; they come with a lifetime guarantee and are available in many different colors, sizes and assortments. If a whole new sign works better for your business’s specific needs, Alphabet Signs also offers Portable Marquee Signs; these signs have frames, back panels, tracks and letters that are easy to assemble.

The possibilities are endless for making a sign on your own or buying a pre-made sign. If you aren’t sure what letter system will work best for you, contact Alphabet Signs. Our customer service reps are knowledgeable, friendly and ready to help!


Combining Lettering Types to Meet Specific Needs


“I have different surfaces where my letters will be mounted. How can I still use your letters?”

This happens often. Not all buildings, or sidings, are created equally, but there is a solution: combining lettering types and styles to meet your specific needs.

The picture below shows formed plastic letters with vinyl letters. The customer used 15 inch and 6 inch Formed Plastic Building Letters and 12 inch Vinyl Lettering to achieve a professional look.

Formed plastic letters come with a lifetime guarantee against cracking, fading, peeling, etc. Vinyl lettering should last about 7 years under the manufacturer’s guarantee.

Both are easy to install. Formed plastic comes with four mounting options, and vinyl is a simple peel and stick application. Many colors, fonts and sizes are available for both types of lettering.

It is not always possible but when installing sign letters of different types you would want the sign letters to have a flush reveal. That is, the face of the sign letters are on the same plane.

Most different lettering types have different depths, some letters will stand off the wall more than the other. For example, the 6 inch letter will stand off the wall 1/2 inch and the 15 inch will stand off the wall 1-1/2 inch.

A trick of the trade is to add spacers to the back of the sign letters to give them more depth.


What’s that marquee board called for my metal church letters?

metal copy board replacement panel


We are often called by churches all over the United States looking for a replacement board that works with their metal letters from many moons ago. Often times, the person in charge of changing the church marquee sign is left with the task of finding new sign letters and refurbishing the sign board.  But because it an existing marquee sign, the previous church committee person had not left information as to where you can buy sign letters.

There are so many different styles and manufactures of church marquee signs over the years that it is difficult to know what to call the marquee boards when you are trying to describe to a professional signmaker the type of letter you need. You may end up with the wrong style of sign letters for your church board if you incorrectly describe  the letterboard. Or you may not be able to find the church marquee letters at all.

We like to start with the type of material the sign letter is made from. Is it metal or plastic? From there, we like to get a description as to how the church marquee letter attaches to the changeable marquee sign. Does it fit between sign letter tracks, does it have tabs on the back of the letters that push into grooves, or does it hang over a slotted track? Then we like to get specific information about the sign letter such as its size, color or gauge. With that type of information we can show you the type of sign letters that will work on your church marquee sign. Occasionally, we may ask you to email a picture of your reader board and letters just to be certain.

Many times the church letters are not named magnetic letters. Sometimes people will call them magnetic meaning that they stick to a readerboard. But magnetic letters are a ferrous based material and will rust outdoors.

The most difficult church readerboard to describe is the custom boards, called Metal Copy Board Replacement Panels or Inner Copy Boards, that are specific to Metal Church Letters. They are made from aluminum slatz that are stacked upon each other and welded to a perimeter frame. The metal church letters have a lip along its top and hang from the aluminum slatz.

These metal boards are grooved to hold any of the metal church letters we sell from sizes 1.5 to 4.125 inches. The grooves will hold Traditional Style Letters or  Sure Grip Letters.

Metal Copy Boards are made from aluminum and powder coated in matte white or black, and there’s a one inch aluminum band around the panel. These panels are meant for outdoor or indoor use and look great in a cabinet.

If you have a traditional marquee from 50 years ago in your quaint country church but the board is in rough shape, this is the perfect solution.



Swinger Sidewalk Signs Draw Potential Customers

Swinger sidewalk sign black message board with Deluxifier header panel
Swinger sidewalk sign black message board with Deluxifier header panel


What sign do you carry that’s easy to see and quick to change the message?

Businesses are always looking for new ways to advertise. Sidewalk signs are a popular choice, but there’s a whole host of signs out there. Do you want an a-frame? Something that swings? Plastic or metal? Letters, write on/wipe off or a poster?

The Swinger Sidewalk Sign is a great option for versatility and weather. The sign is made of steel and coated in plastic, so it will endure rain, snow or sleet. It has a ballast that can be filled with sand or water, so it will deflect wind up to 25 mph.

The Standard Swinger comes with changeable letters and a tracked board, but if you want to use a poster down the road or even a marker board, this sign is a great choice. You simply take the panel off the center crossbar, and put on your printed coroplast sign or marker face in its place.

Alphabet Signs carries the tracked message faces, sidewalk sign letters and markers for these signs.