OK, so it’s time to have a sign made and you are getting a quote- How can you compare the product you are getting from one sign shop to that of another? Well, to be honest, it is not that easy for the average consumer. There are a myriad of different vinyl producers and with each provider, they offer varying qualities. At Sequoia Signs & Graphics we use only the top name brand producers (primarily 3M) but others may prefer to save a little on cost. This does not mean that they are using poor vinyl- just different quality. A Fiat is a nice Italian car that runs fine, but would you compare that with a Ferrari?
There is one major dividing line that will help as you shop for vinyl: Cast or Calendered. Cast is the higher end vinyl and is much more forgiving while calendered provides a lower cost point. Both have their uses. Here is a short explanation:
Calendered vinyl is like a piece of pizza dough. It starts out as a ball and is rolled out until it is super thin- maybe 3-4 mils. Works great for shorter term usage and for flat surfaces. Anyone who has made pizza at home, however, knows that after you roll the dough flat….it always wants to creep back at the edges. That’s because it still remembers that it started out as a ball, and it wants to return to its shape. Now please understand- this is not something that happens immediately, but depending on the quality of the calendared material, over time it will pull back ever so slightly. This also makes it a bad selection for sharp curves or over rivets.
Cast vinyl, on the other hand, starts out as a liquid and is poured into a thin sheet –maybe 2 mils. Because it never had form to start, it is much more accepting of living life in a different shape. In fact, anytime we heat cast vinyl up over 200F, it forgets what it used to be! This is why we use cast vinyl for vehicle wraps- over rivets and curves. It has a higher price point but it will last longer and on more difficult surfaces.
So when you are looking at your quote for wall graphics or anything using vinyl- take the time to ask what material they are using, how long is it rated? Is it cast?
We hope this helps! If you’d like to chat more about vinyl or any upcoming project, we would love to speak with you Give us a call at 925.300.1066 or email: [email protected]
Written by Sequoia Signs & Graphics