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Sign Care and Maintenance




  1. If stored for long periods of time prior to being installed, signs should be stored on their EDGE and in the original shipping carton whenever possible.  If stored “FLAT”, never stack cartons of signs on top of each other if the total height exceeds 5” and NEVER place heavy objects on the signs or the carton containing the signs.  Excessive weight will break the reflective sheeting’s encapsulated / enclosed microscopic glass beads or prismatic cells, resulting in a loss of reflectivity and will void the warranty.
  2. Use extreme care when installing the sign(s). 3M™, Avery-Dennison and ARA Signs recommend the use of nylon washers to avoid damage to the sign face.  We include special nylon washers at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE for all signs we sell.  Careless use of tools when installing signs can damage the sign.
  3. Although the corners of most signs are rounded, the edges of aluminum sign can sometimes be sharp and can cause injury.  Always wear gloves when handling and installing signs.



  1. Signs occasionally require cleaning to remove dirt and grime and to restore the full reflective qualities of the sign.  
  2. A mild detergent, water and a very soft cloth should be used. Gently clean the sign and rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining dirt and detergent.
  3. The use of most “graffiti removers” and all strong cleaning solvents can damage the sign and void the warranty.  If, and only if soap and water will not clean the sign, ONLY use a reliable, gentle detergent such as "Dawn" dishwashing detergent or a very reputable "graffiti remover" such as "Goof-Off" and test the solvent on a small, inconspicious portion of the sign before attempting to clean the entire sign.  More "harm than good" will result if a harsh cleaner is used, and will ruin the sign and void the warranty.  NEVER use "Ajax", "Comet" or other abrasive cleaners and NEVER use a scrubbing pad.
  4. Avoid “scrubbing” as pressure on the face of the sign will cause some of the tens of thousands of glass beads on Engineer Grade signs to break resulting in a loss of reflectivity and warranty. Prismatic cells on High Intensity and Diamond Grade signs are more durable, but scrubbing these signs will also damage the sign, cause a loss of reflectivity and look unsightly.


ORIENTATION LINES(High Intensity and Diamond Grade reflective sheeting only)

3M™ and Avery intentionally place “Orientation Lines” at right angles on their “High Intensity” and “Diamond Grade” reflective sheeting to serve as a guide during the manufacturing process and are therefore often visible on some finished signs.  These lines are not defects and do not adversely affect the reflective properties of the sign(s).



Despite electronic air cleaners and other precautions, during the manufacturing process tiny dust particles and air bubbles occasionally become trapped between the 3M™ Acrylic Film and Sheeting.  These blemishes are only cosmetic in nature, are not considered defects and do not adversely affect the durability and reflectivity of your sign.


BACKS of SIGNS(except double-sided signs)

  1. ALODINE COATING: That golden-brown “stuff” you might have noticed on the back of the sign isn’t, of course, rust. Aluminum can’t produce the “normal” brown rust everyone is familiar with, but can develop aluminum oxide (“white rust”) and off-gassing that can cause the reflective sheeting to separate from the aluminum on untreated signs. To prevent this from happening and to provide the best warranty in the sign business, we only purchase high quality (alloy 5052-H38) aluminum that has been treated on both sides with Alodine 1200 (a Chromate Conversion process) at the aluminum mill to minimize the formation of aluminum oxide. The amount of visible Alodine coating (“brown stuff”) varies from “hardly noticeable” to “very noticeable”, but is always necessary to produce the highest quality outdoor signs.  Other formulas of Alodine 1200 are clear and may leave a slight glossy sheen on exposed aluminum surfaces.
  2. SCRATCHES on the ALUMINUM:  Despite careful handling, occasionally tiny sand and dirt particles trapped between sheets of aluminum will cause surface scratches when sign blanks are pulled out from a stack prior to making the sign.  Scratches also occur during shipment from the aluminum mills and our location.  We wish it never occurs… but it does sometimes.  Rather than cover / hide the “worst side” (side with the worst scratches) with the sign face as many sign shops do, we prefer to use the “best side” to insure the absolute best adhesion.  Consequently the side with the scratches, if any, is used for the BACK but therefore remains visible.  Although not ideal cosmetically, whenever surface scratches are visible they are unavoidable, are not considered defects and means that the “best side” was used where it is really needed; to provide a smooth surface for the sign face.



The paper with “3M (or Avery) Reflective Sheeting” printed on the back (Engineer Grade signs) or clear plastic (High Intensity and Diamond Grade) found inside your package(s) was originally the backing to the adhesive side of the reflective sheeting, and then used to protect the sign during shipping.  It should be DISCARDED or RECYCLED along with the other packaging materials.

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