Beginner’s Guide To Channel Letter Signs

Beginner’s Guide To Channel Letter Signs

Since the 1800s, people have been using electronic signs to illuminate the way and get people interested in products and services.

Since the 1800s, people have been using electronic signs to illuminate the way and get people interested in products and services. Popular signage trends have come and gone. Nowadays, channel letter signs is a stunning choice for those who want their business name to stand out among the crowd. You might be interested in getting channel letter signs for your establishment but don’t know if they are the best choice, so take the time to read all about them.

Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to channel letter signs to help you get started.

What is a channel letter sign?

A channel letter sign is a type of illumination that uses a three-dimensional construction of individual shapes to create words. In other words, channel letters signs are compromised of single character signs that are lined up to form a statement, such as your brand or business name. Every letter is constructed and attached to the edifice of the building or wall separately. Because of this, the design of channel letters is very flexible and can use a number of fonts, sizes, and colors.

What are the different kinds of channel letter signs?

There are four main types of channel letter signs that you can select prior to further customization:

Standard Channel Letters – also known as front lit channel letters, these are the most common choice. Standard channel letter have an acrylic face and aluminum backing. They can be designed a number of ways to fit your needs. If illuminated, the LED will light the front face of the letters.

Push-Thru Channel Letters – the appearance is that of have been push through the backing, created a more pop-out look.

Halo Lit Channel Letters – also called reverse lit channel letters, this is where the faces are covered in metal and light shines from the back of the letters, allowing the glow to illuminate the shapes.

Exposed Channel Letters – clear acrylic faces allow the light source to shine through.

What about mounting styles?

Depending on your business, one type of mount for the channel letters may be more appropriate than the others.

  • Raceway Mount – most businesses use raceway mounts because the letters are placed on a metal backing and thus limits the number of holes that have to be made to connect the power source to letters if the sign is illuminated.
  • Direct or Flush Mount for a sophisticated look, the direct mount is the best choice, because the channel letters are attached directly to the facade with the use of all-weather fasteners that do not corrode. The power source is hidden behind the bulkhead wall, which can make direct mounts a bit more different to install than the other mounting types.
  • Backer Mount most often used with push-thru varieties, the backer mount is much like raceway mounts, but instead of the metal box, the letters are attached directly to the backer panel. The power supply is housed behind the cabinet, bulkhead, or facade.

How are channel letter signs made?

Channel letters are fabricated with the following pieces:

  • Face – made from 3/16” thick acrylic sheets that are cut to shape.
  • Return – side of the channel letter that has a depth between 3-8” and needs to be specified before manufacturing. Aluminum is often used to create the return.
  • Trim Cap – the piece that attaches the face of the channel letter to the UV-stable, durable plastic using a liquid bond that chemically welds the two pieces together.
  • Backs – made from router-cut aluminum sheeting of varying thickness, depending on the design.
  • Illumination – channel letter signs can come either illuminated with LED bulbs or non-illuminated.

What are the illumination styles?

Having mentioned that channel letter signs can be lit up throughout the day and evening hours, let’s have a look at the choices available. Presently, many channel letter signs are illuminated either by LED bulbs or neon.

LED bulbs are safer than neon, use less energy, and have a life expectancy between 50,000 to 100,000 hours, which translates into about 13-15 years, depending on how often the light is used.

Neon is often though of as more appealing for certain businesses since the bulbs can come in different colors. However, neon can contain heavy metals and becomes dangerously hot when ran for extended periods of time.

How long will channel letter signs last?

While quality construction is part of the durability of channel letter signs, they also require maintenance. Aluminum and acrylic are very strong and flexible materials. The casing for channel letter signs is also waterproof and rustproof, so the signage will not look dingy within a few years. In fact, you can suspect channel letter signs to last for many years, especially if you keep the acrylic from fading and cracking and perform maintenance of the power supplies every 3-5 years.


Channel letters are, in short, individual letter signs that can attach to a building to form words. This option is excellent for businesses that want a touch of elegance to their front signage, as well as some flexibility with design. Consider getting channel letters for your business if you want to make a lasting impression without breaking the budget for other, larger signs.

Do you want more information about channel letter signs or want to contact a professional to ask your questions? We’re here to help. Fill out the contact form to learn more!