Foam Core Board Sign Substrates- Selecting the Right Material for the Job

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What are the basics for selecting a foam core sign substrate?

Today we will be taking a look at selecting the correct foam core based substrate for your projects.
Dozens of factors can impact your material selection and we have listed several of the basic items to consider when making your choice.
When selecting a substrate, these key factors should be considered:

Target Environment

Where will your signs be installed? For the sake of this article we are focusing primarily on foam core board substrates. Foam core board products, for the most part, are intended for indoor signage including:

  • Commercial & Retail Store Signage
  • Interior ADA Signage
  • Routed Lettering and Logos for Indoor Signage
  • Interior POP Signs & Displays

Length of Installation

How long will the signage need to last? Ideally every sign you make will last forever- right? Unfortunately, durability generally has a direct relationship to cost. Clients tend to steer towards the most cost effective solution for the project, while insuring durability of the signage for the established time it will be implemented.

Printing Resources

What are you printing with? Are your print resources digital, screen printing, painting? Your method of application and print results are directly impacted by the type of foam core sheet you select. For the most part, your selection will be based upon the features of the facer or liner surrounding the foam core. Facers consist of various materials each with their own unique qualities for the type of application you desire.


Foam Core Board Composition

Foam core boards primarily consist of two components:

Foam Core Board Sheet– the foam core is made up of extruded polystyrene and is available in a variety of thicknesses. Primarily available in black and white.

Facer or Liner Sheet– foam core board facers or liners consist of a variety of materials depending upon the type of application and printing method.


Foam Core Board Facer Materials

Expanded PVC
Expanded PVC is a rigid and lightweight foam polyvinyl. It is extremely tough, rigid and versatile for many types of signage applications. One of the best Expanded PVC foam core boards for signage is the UltraBoard Plus product line.

A lightweight synthetic polymer of styrene resin. For an example of polystyrene facer foam core boards, check out our UltraBoard Classic line.

Several standard paper varieties are available with different finishes that are used depending upon the type of application needed. Here is a list of standard paper facers that are available for our foam core boards:

  • Kraft Paperalso known as paperboard or cardboard is produced from chemical pulp remaining from the Kraft process. Kraft papers provide high elasticity and tear resistance; and is ideal for signage products with high demands for strength and durability. Take a look at our UltraBoard White DP or UltraBoard Mount foam core boards for examples.
  • Poly Coated Paperproduced by laminating Kraft paper with a polymer based laminating film. Poly paper coating provide an additional barrier of protection from contaminates and moisture that would potentially damage the underlying Kraft paper. Take a look at our UltraBoard White DP foam core boards as an example.
  • Ultra White Paper– ultra white papers tend to have a brighter white point than standard papers. The brighter and whiter paper produces images that are brighter, of higher contrast, and have more intense color. For an example, see our UltraBoard White DP foam core boards.
  • Clay Paper- clay coated papers offer a very consistent and smooth print surface that make them an excellent and cost-effective choice for most printing applications. To learn more about clay coated paper foam board facers, have a look at our UltraBoard Core foam board line.