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Sign POSTS

SIGN POSTS

In almost every community, the requirements for traffic SIGNS (size, grade of reflective sheeting etc.) are determined by the Local Jurisdiction (County Highway Department, city government etc.) based on State DOT and Federal MUTCD guidelines. Only a handful of states have “state-wide” requirements.

Likewise, your Local Jurisdiction also establishes Local Ordinances and Regulations regarding SIGN POSTS installed along all “roads open to public travel”, which includes roads on PRIVATE PROPERTY* (unless the road is posted “No Trespassing” and/or gated).

* Please see our “Traffic Signs on Private Property” link on our homepage for additional information on why sign requirements and ordinances for signs installed on public streets also apply to signs installed on PRIVATE PROPERTY.

The Local Jurisdiction’s SIGN POST ordinances and regulations dictate the following:

1. TYPE of sign post

  • SQUARE POSTS
    • Regular duty and Heavy duty to extreme heavy duty use
    • Most common type of sign post, and most durable, HD and longest lasting
    • Often the ONLY type of permitted sign post for urban, rural and private property use
    • Width
      • 1¾” X 1¾” square posts are commonly required for most signs
      • some jurisdictions require 2” X 2” for larger signs (typically only for signs over 30” wide, but varies from one jurisdiction to another; some jurisdictions require the larger size for all sign posts, regardless of the sign size)
      • both sizes (widths) are available from us
    • Gauge
      • most square sign posts are 14 gauge galvanized metal
      • some jurisdictions require extra thick 12 gauge posts; typically only required for large signs
      • both gauges are available
    • Holes every 1” on all 4 sides along the entire length for a) mounting signs or sign brackets and b) attaching to posts to anchors (and sleeves, if required)
    • Various sign mounting hardware is available from us.  Hardware can be ordered separately or with posts at a discounted “package price”.
    • Square posts can be mounted in the ground without a galvanized “Anchor” section, but since some (typically 24" to 36") of the post will be underground, the above-ground height will be reduced and often will not provide adequate above ground clearance for even small signs and therefore posts only (without anchors) are seldom installed.  Typically this very rare method is only used on certain private property in very rural applications and only if permitted by the local jurisdiction.
    • Anchors (buried underground or set in concrete) and optional Sleeves (to provide a break-away feature; see section 2 below) are available separately or usually as a “sign post assembly” with posts and hardware and are easier to install and increase the overall height of the sign post
      • Our “EZ” square sign post systems: Posts with anchors which are buried in the ground or set in concrete.  After the post is attached to the anchor with hardware (included), all but an inch or two of the full height (length) of the post is “above ground” and therefore increases the clearance between the bottom of the sign and the ground below.
      • Our “Break-Away” sign post systems: Similar to our “EZ” posts, but also have a sleeve and hardware to provide a “break-away” feature often required by most jurisdictions (see section 2 below)
    • Square sign posts WITH a) an anchor only [”EZ”] or b) with anchor and sleeve [“Break-away”] increases the ground clearance because the entire sign post length (height) is above ground and therefore either 8’ square post assembly may provide adequate ground clearance for some applications and therefore is usually less expensive than ordering a 10’ or 12’ square post only which must be shipped via motor freight.
    • Posts only, EZ and Break-Away assemblies available from ARA Signs in 8’ post lengths (UPS Shippable) and 10’ and 12’ lengths (exceed UPS maximum dimensions and must ship via motor freight)
    • For more information, please see our “Installation Instructions” with drawings for square posts on our website or contact us by phone (702-644-7446) or email
  • U-CHANNEL POSTS
    • Typically not approved by jurisdictions for traffic signs except, on a limited basis, for parking signs, some traffic sign applications on private property or for temporary signs only
    • Light to Medium to duty
    • Type
      • green baked enamel finish (most common type)
      • galvanized (more expensive, for very wet and corrosive soil conditions)
      • both types are available from us
    • Thickness
      • medium duty 2 pounds per foot steel; the standard thickness
      • very light duty 1.12 pound per foot steel posts, but their use is very limited and often not suitable or approved for most signs. Usually for very small temporary signs only and not recommended
    • Break-away hardware is available (see section 2 below)
    • 8’ lengths (UPS Shippable) and 10’ and 12’ lengths (exceed UPS maximum dimensions and must ship via motor freight)
    • Can be installed in the ground without a break-away section and hardware, but the above ground height is reduced and therefore probably will not provide adequate “bottom of sign to ground clearance”
    • Like our “EZ” and “Break-Away” square posts, U-Channel posts WITH break-away anchor and hardware increases the ground clearance because the entire sign post length (height) is above ground and therefore 8’ U-Channel posts with break-away may provide adequate ground clearance for some applications without having to order a 10’ or 12’ U-Channel break-away post which must be shipped via motor freight.
    • Please see our “Installation Instructions” for U-Channel posts drawings on our website for more information or contact us by phone (702-644-7446) or email
  • ROUND POSTS
    • 2 3/8” diameter round, galvanized metal posts
    • Light to medium duty; NOT heavy duty and NOT for large signs or windy areas
    • Usually only approved for small parking signs in parking lots and parking garages and other special locations such as downtown, historic districts where appearance (many people feel that round posts without holes ‘look nicer’ than square posts with holes on all 4 sides every 1 inch; round posts are smooth and do not have any mounting holes) is more important than durability
    • Sometimes approved for residential roads and for commercial signage
    • Although ARA Signs can supply round posts, fortunately round posts are available locally and, due to not having to pay expensive shipping costs, they are often less expensive. They are the same diameter (2 3/8”) as “end posts” used for gates on chain link fencing. Shorter lengths are available from home improvement and hardware stores. Larger lengths are available locally from fence suppliers.
    • Special sign mounting hardware is required to mount signs to the front of the round post, or front and back, or on the top of the post is available from ARA Signs (unfortunately, not from hardware stores and other local fence suppliers).  These sign mounting brackets for round posts do NOT require drilling holes in the round post; they simply bolt-on.
    • Hardware to mount signs to LARGE DIAMETER STREET LIGHT POLES and other posts up to 12" diameter are available from us
  • WOOD POSTS
    • A few local jurisdictions allow the use of weather resistant (pressure treated, redwood, etc.) 4” X 4” wood posts for certain limited uses; usually only on private property, campground, parks and other rural properties
    • Wooden posts are the most economical type of sign post and are available at home improvement and hardware stores, thus avoiding any shipping costs
    • Easily available zinc coated sign mounting hardware is also available locally or from ARA Signs
    • Some jurisdictions permit drilling holes thru the post at the base to create a “break-away” feature
    • Wood posts are often the least durable type of posts, depending on soil and weather conditions, but, due to their low cost of replacement, it may be cost effective to use wood posts for traffic signs if permitted by the local jurisdiction

2. BREAK-AWAY FEATURE

  • Most jurisdictions nationwide require some form of break-away feature for certain types of roads and applications to minimize property damage in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
  • Many jurisdictions do NOT require a break-away post for residential and other low speed (such as less than 25 mph) locations such as shopping center parking lots.
  • Multi-section break-away posts, such as U-Channel posts (if permitted) and “EZ” (with anchor, plus connecting hardware) or Square Post “Break-Away” (with anchor and sleeve, plus connecting hardware) also provide more “above ground height” and therefore more clearance than one-piece posts.  8’ sign posts with a anchor and/or breakaway post section and hardware often provide adequate ground clearance... are also “UPS Shippable”, and are therefore less expensive than a 10' or 12' post only (no breakaway, and therefore some post height is "lost" because some of the post itself is buried underground), considering costly motor freight shipping is needed.

3. MINIMUM SIGN HEIGHT (and required length of post)

  • All Jurisdictions and many commercial property owners have established a minimum sign height / clearance (distance from the bottom of the sign to grade [sidewalk, road, earth etc]) to prevent bodily injury. The bottoms of most signs are often required to be
    • Urban areas, near sidewalks or where pedestrians are present: 7’ minimum clearance is quite common, some jurisdictions require an even greater clearance while a few only 80” (6’ 8”)
    • Rural areas where pedestrians are not present: many jurisdictions reduce the clearance to 5’ while others do not allow any clearance reduction for rural locations
  • Sign posts, therefore, must be long (tall) enough to
    • a) provide this clearance,
    • b) plus the height of the sign(s),
    • c) plus the length that is buried below the surface.
  • As stated above, in addition to providing a break-away feature required by many jurisdictions, U-Channel breakaway sign posts and our square post assemblies with an anchor and / or breakaway post sections also add 30" to 36" of useable sign post height compared to "posts only" because all but an inch or two of the sign post is above ground.
  • Although a "UPS Shippable" 8' sign post with an anchor and/or breakaway section may provide adequate ground clearance for some signs in some jurisdictions, 10’ and 12’ overall sign post lengths, therefore, are often necessary (which exceeds UPS maximum shipping length and must be shipped via motor freight).

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Since these Ordinances vary from city to city and county to county, we, of course, are not familiar with the regulations governing your installation in your particular community.  We, therefore, can only provide "what is typical in the USA" information that may NOT be applicable in your community or meet the sign post ordinances established by your local jurisdiction.  Always CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL JURISDICTION to determine the approved / required type and size of post BEFORE PURCHASING SIGN POSTS (including sign and posts on private property).  In most cases, your local jurisdiction has this information on their website or can immediately answer your questions by phone. Others may require a request for information in writing or email, but often reply promptly.

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OTHER CONSIDERATIONS and ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

1. SHIPPING COST

  • Sign posts are heavy, long and awkward objects that are subject to UPS special handling fees and are relatively expensive to ship. In many cases, the cost of the post plus shipping can exceed the cost of the sign!
  • Any object, including sign posts 9’ long and greater exceed UPS’s maximum length and therefore must be shipped via motor freight
    • a. The shipping cost per post to ship one or a few sign posts via motor freight is extremely high and usually becomes the most expensive portion of the entire signage project
    • b. Orders for larger quantities of posts, of course, have a much lower shipping cost per post
  • In about 20 larger US cities, we can also make arrangements for you to pick up sign posts at our suppliers and therefore avoid any shipping costs. Please contact us for a list of these select cities.

2. HARDWARE

  • Don’t forget the sign mounting hardware!
  • We offer all types of sign mounting hardware and special brackets
  • Some types of hardware for certain applications are available locally
  • We also offer vandal / theft resistant hardware
  • Hardware to connect sign post sections is included with the sign post package
  • Sign mounting hardware can also be ordered from ARA Signs along with the posts as a package at a reduced cost
  • Please see our “Sign Hardware” link on our website for additional information on sign mounting hardware

3. NUMBER OF POSTS

  • Although some signs are mounted on walls or other flat surface, most are mounted on 1 or more sign posts
  • Small to medium size signs (typically up to 30” wide) are usually mounted on 1 sign post
  • Larger signs (typically 36” wide and larger) are often mounted on 2 sign posts
  • Very wide signs are often mounted on 3 or more posts or use "Z-Bars" (available from ARA Signs.  Please see our info page on this website)
  • Wind is often the primary factor.  In high winds, the wind resistance on even a medium size sign can be extreme and damage the sign if mounted on just 1 sign post.   In extremely windy locations many local jurisdictions require all medium size signs to be mounted on two posts.  Likewise, it may be wise to mount custom commercial signs on 2 or more posts even if the local ordinances do not require it.
  • Check with your Local Jurisdiction for the number of sign posts required for traffic signs

4. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • Please call us at 702-644-7446 or send us an email and we will help you select the proper sign post and hardware.  As stated above, we can only provide "what is typical in the USA" information that may not satisfy the sign post and hardware requirements established by your local jurisdiction.
  • We also have additional printed information with a table to compare the different types of posts (which is much easier to understand than this on-line document).  Please contact us and we will email you a copy.

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