Direct printing Vs. Vinyl overlay for signage

22 October 2021 Product Focus

Whilst you are making the decision on what type of sign you want, you also need to consider whether you want to use either digital print or vinyl overlay to show the design. Whilst making this decision it is good to know the advantages and disadvantages of both signage styles to make sure you know the differences and similarities to make sure you make the correct choice for you.

What is vinyl overlay?

Vinyl overlay is a vinyl sheet with either a solid colour or a printed design, bonded to a rigid material. Vinyl overlays are a great alternative for smaller shops to use on their signage as it is a more budget-friendly alternative.

Advantages of using vinyl overlay

  • It can be placed and removed easily so it works well for temporary signs or somewhere where the information changes regularly.
  • Signs made with vinyl are very durable and can last around 5-10 years.
  • It is a budget-friendly alternative for smaller businesses.


Disadvantages of using vinyl overlay

  • When exposed to the sun, the colour of the vinyl can fade.
  • It is hard to apply without any small mishaps such as tearing or bubbles.
  • There is not a wide range of vinyl colours so there are times when brands have to result to printing because the vinyl colour to match their brand colour is not available.
  • There are no fades or blends of different colours when using vinyl overlay.
  • Vinyl stickers may leave a residue when they are removed.
  • Although durable, there is the possibility of it peeling and may not hold up against scrubbing and harsh weather.


What is direct printing?

Direct printing means that the design and text of the sign are directly printed onto the surface of the design. Direct printing comes as standard when translating an image or text onto a non-rigid banner or sign.


Advantages of direct printing

  • Direct printing offers a crisp and vivid copy of the images and text design.
  • The colour can be exactly matched to the brand colours.
  • Ombres, shadows and blends of different colours can be achieved when a design is printed directly.
  • Complex designs are not a problem of direct printing.
  • When a high-quality UV ink is used to print a sign, it is very durable and fade resistant.
  • No peeling because the ink is directly cured on the surface of the sign.


Disadvantages of direct printing

  • Unlike vinyl overlay, direct printing is a permanent solution.
  • Printed signs will most likely not last as long as vinyl (unless the sign is laminated).
  • Printed signs can be more susceptible to scratching (unless the sign is laminated).


Both vinyl overlays and printed signs both have convincing advantages and disadvantages, but it is mostly down to the way they will be used! Take a look at the different trade signs and fixings, available in a range of sizes, bespoke to your needs at Ashby Trade Sign Supplies

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