National Sign Link has a network of experienced manufacturers to provide you with all types of freestanding signs.  Our goal is to ensure that you get the product that you need, when you need it and at a fair price.

Freestanding signs form a broad category in the world of signs.  The simplest definition for freestanding sign is any kind of sign that is self-supporting or not supported by a building.  Included in this category are pylon signs, post and panel and monument signs.

PYLON Freestanding Signs

You will see good examples of pylon signs every day on your daily commute or on your way to run errands.  They can be seen at shopping plazas, recreational facilities, medical offices, schools, municipal buildings and all manner of businesses from car washes to bakeries to banks.  You will see them with single pole structures to double, triple or four sided support structures.  You will see multi-tenant styles, which can be single, double, triple faced, or four-sided.  You will also see rotating pylon signs.

In the broader category of freestanding signs, pylon signs are tall and can be seen at a distance making them visible to faster- moving automobile traffic.  Pylon signs can be made with a wide variety of materials including aluminum, plastic, sheet metal, and Dibond.  They can be illuminated or not and they are highly customizable, running the design gamut from simple to dramatic.  In areas where there are many businesses and signs competing for attention from motorists traveling at speed, a pylon sign may be the best choice to help customers locate your business.

MONUMENT Freestanding Signs

If the pylon sign wants to be the tallest tree in the forest, the monument sign wants to be the tree that stands apart from the rest and makes its presence felt in a more discreet elegant style.  They can be seen by automobile traffic and are easily appreciated by those travelling on foot.  They typically have a solid base and can be designed and built to incorporate some of the aesthetics of the building or designed to complement the environment that surrounds it.  Landscaping can also enhance the impact of a monument sign.  Monument signs can be single or double sided, they can have their own illumination built in, or alternatively, can be lit with external flood lighting.

A well-designed monument sign can make a very sophisticated statement about your organization.  As one of the major types of freestanding signs, monument signs are a tasteful, low profile, high impact choice to attract the attention of passing pedestrians and motorists.  You can even integrate an LED message centre or time and temperature unit into your monument sign.

POST and PANEL Freestanding Signs

The name correctly implies a simple, straightforward solution to freestanding signs.  The nice thing about this classic simplicity is that it can indeed be minimalist or easily and economically embellished in a variety of ways to make the desired statement.

The simplest post and panel sign uses a single post with a panel affixed either hanging from the side or centered on the post.  The next adaptation is to use two posts with the panel bridging or hanging in between.  They can be single or double sided and, for a corner installation, two panels can be used with a third post forming a tripod.

Post and panel signs are adaptable to a wide variety of locations.  For example, corporate identification, law offices, real estate offices and entrance signs.  They are an effective means to convey information in places such as parking lots where you can incorporate site maps or directional information for wayfinding.  They can also be effective in temporary applications for commercial developments or construction projects as well as for property sales signs.  For large signage projects, it is important to keep all onsite signage looking consistent.

Steel, aluminum, Dibond, metal, wood and plastics are all materials from which post and panel signs are commonly manufactured.  Additionally, the use of post finials or decorative edges on the panel will add another dimension of style and uniqueness to the sign.  When it comes to lighting, they can be flood lit or internally illuminated with LEDs.  The presentation of the sign can be enhanced by using stone, landscaping, or applying the design aesthetic that best suits your purpose and intention.  Whatever your target is, simple, ornate or dignified, a post and panel sign can achieve the objective, as it is highly adaptable.

Whether pylon, post and panel or monument, it is without a doubt that freestanding signs can deliver a durable, effective, and aesthetically compelling result; promoting your product, service, or message, day and night 365 days of the year.

One of the advantages of dealing with National Sign Link is that you get the benefits of our vast number of connections among sign manufacturers across Canada.  Put those connections to work for you, along with our collective 60+ years of industry experience.  Contact National Sign Link today.

freestanding signs gallery

freestanding signs glossary of terms

ACRYLIC:  A resilient and weather-resistant plastic, similar to glass, used to make interior and exterior signs.  Plexiglas® and Acrylite® are well-known commercial brands of the material.

ALUMINUM COMPOSITE MATERIAL (ACM):  An aluminum-clad, plastic core panel, used for sign faces and store fronts.  Alucobond is a brand of ACM but there are many others.

AESTHETICS:  Elements of signage that project a particular level of beauty and value, including aspects of design, colour, form and quality of craftsmanship that appeal to a viewer’s artistic sensibilities.

BLEED:  A term referring to the portion of a printed image or graphic which extends beyond the intended borders of a sign.  This excess portion is trimmed away.

BRANDING:  The process of creating a unique, positive and recognizable identity for a product or service.  Along with marketing and advertising, creating a visual identity through signage is an important part of the branding process.

BUILDING CODE:  Provincial and/or local regulations governing public health, welfare and safety of construction and maintenance.  Be familiar with code before ordering a sign.  National Sign Link offers code review, permitting and installation services as well as product.

BULL-NOSE The end of a cabinet or sign panel that has either fully rounded or half-rounded ends.

Bullnose Diagram

CABINET SIGN:  A sign structure consisting of the frame and face(s), not including the internal components, embellishments or support structure.

CANTILEVER:  A sign mounted from the end.  Also called a flag or end mount.

Cantilever Diagram






CLADDING:  A cover added to conceal or decorate the base or supporting structure of a sign.  Sheet metal, aluminum and Dibond are often used.

CMYK:  The CMYK colour model (process colour, four colour) is a subtractive colour model, used in colour printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself.  CMYK refers to the four inks used in some colour printing:  cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black).  Sign shops require a PMS colour in order to match your desired colour.

COLD CATHODE:  (1.)  Electric discharge lighting, which uses an electrode with a large metal mass to emit electrons.  Neon tubing is a cold cathode type.  (2.)  Generic term employed to specify custom interior lighting produced through the use of larger diameter cold cathode tubing.

CONSPICUITY:  The characteristics of the sign that enable an observer to differentiate the sign from its surrounding environment.

CONTRAST:  The amount of difference between the lightest and darkest areas in an image or scene.  (2.)  The visual characteristics of an object such as size, shape and colour that make it distinguishable from other objects near it and the background it is set against.

COPY:  As a whole, the written message on a sign.

DIGITAL GRAPHICSWith digital printing, an image is sent directly to the printer using digital files such as PDFs and those file types from graphics software such as Illustrator.  Consider the following product types which can be ordered in your choice of shape and size printed on your choice of substrate.  Mesh banners, window graphics, replacement sign panels, floor graphics, fence scrim, vehicle wraps, building wraps, wall murals, point of purchase signs or billboards to name a few.  Use digital graphics to brand any surface in your space.

DIMENSIONAL LETTER:  A letter, logo or symbol, either cut out, cast, moulded or fabricated in material such as metal or plastic to create a raised condition.

DIRECTIONAL SIGNS (Wayfinding):  Signage that help drivers and pedestrians to navigate a given location or event, whether interior or exterior.  For example, parking signs and signs featuring destinations with arrows.

DIRECTORY SIGNS:  Signage listing names and locations for multiple business tenants in a building, or the companies in an industrial or office park.

DROP SHADOW:  The visual effect of creating a false shadow behind a letter or object by placing a darker coloured but identically shaped copy of it behind it but slightly offset up or down and to one side.

DUAL COLOUR VINYL:  A perforated vinyl that can be utilized to create a different daytime and nighttime sign effect, where contrast issues exist thereby allowing maximum visibility of the sign at all times.

ELECTRONIC MESSAGE CENTRE(EMC)  A large format LED or LCD display, used for indoor and outdoor advertising.  Can be either monochrome or colour, and can often support moving images.

EMBOSSED:  To raise above.  Embossed letters are raised above the background.

EPS FILE:  Encapsulated Post Script file.  A computer document intended to be usable in a graphics file format.  EPS files are more or less self-contained and reasonably predictable.  PostScript documents describe an image or drawing and can be placed within another PostScript document.

FACE:  The surface area on a sign where advertising copy is distributed.

FASCIA SIGN:  A building mounted sign.  Often referred to as a wall sign.

FIRST SURFACE:  That element or layer that comprises the outermost surface of a sign.

FLEX FACE:  Generic term for reinforced, translucent fabric made of PVC or polyester typically used for awnings, canopies and other types of signage.  An abrasion resistant, antifungal durable scrim extruded within the fabric makes this an extremely durable outdoor material.  Diffusion layer provides for brilliant graphics.  May be sewn, seamed and grommetted to finish in a wide variety of methods and sizes.

FLAT CUTOUT LETTER:  A dimensional letter cut from sheet or plate stock acrylic, metal or high density foam of various thickness depending on the desired effect. The industry often defaults to 1/8″ material but National Sign Link defaults to 1/4″ material.  See our Partner link to Gemini for a listing of various substrates, thicknesses and finishes.

FONT:  A set of letters and numerals sharing the same design characteristics.  Examples of font sets include Times New Roman and Arial. (Also called typeface.)

FOOTING:  The concrete base into which a sign support is set.

FULL SERVICE SIGN COMPANIES:  Sign companies that complete the entire signage project, including surveying, designing, engineering, permitting, manufacturing, installing, and maintaining signs.  National Sign Link allows clients to choose products independently of our other services.

GAUGE:  A standard of measurement, primarily for the thickness of metal, or size of wire.

GRADIENT:  The smooth transition from one colour to another colour, from black to white, or from colour to the absence of colour. (Also called gradation.)

HANGING BAR:  A horizontal bar located at the top of a sign face, designed to carry the weight of the face, eliminate sag, and to help keep the face retained in high wind loads.

hanging bar diagram

JPEG:  (Joint Photographic Exports Group)  A common file format for colour digital images.  The JPEG standard utilizes a ‘lossy’ data compression method, meaning that in order to reduce the overall size of the file a small amount of sharpness from the original image is sacrificed.


LEXAN:  Brand of Polycarbonate.

LIGHT EMITTING DIODE:  (LED)  A semi-conducting crystal with two terminals, used in electronic displays, and as indicator lights on many types of equipment and products.

LOGO:  An identifying symbol (as for use in advertising).


MDO:  (Medium Density Overlay)  An exterior grade plywood sheet that has been given a resin-impregnated overlay on one or both sides to improve its paintability.

MESSAGE AREA:  The area within the sign panel describing the limits of the message.

MONUMENT SIGNS:  A freestanding, low-profile ground sign.

OFF-PREMISE SIGN:  An off-premise sign is a sign displaying advertising copy that pertains to a business, person, organization, activity, event, place, service or product not principally located or primarily manufactured or sold on the premises on which the sign is located. Commonly referred to as, Outdoor or third party displays and usually associated with billboards.

OIL CANNING:  Refers to the occurrence of slight buckling or waviness in a metal surface due to insufficient thickness of the material or inadequate support behind it.

ON-PREMISE SIGN:  A device whose message and design relates to a business, an event, goods, profession or service being conducted, sold or offered on the same property as where the sign is erected.

OPAQUE:  Solid, not allowing light or images to pass through.  Also refers to a coating or cover without letting the colour or image below to show through.

PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM:  A popular colour matching system used by the printing industry and the sign industry to print spot colours or to match colours. Most applications that support colour printing allow you to specify colours by indicating the Pantone name or number.  This insures that you get the right colour when the file is printed, even though the colour may not look right when displayed on your computer monitor.  PMS works well for spot colours but not for process colours, which are generally specified using the CMYK colour model.  National Sign Link uses the Pantone Matching System to match your colour needs, rather than CMYK colour codes.

PERMIT:  A document attesting to municipal approval of the installation and secured by formal submission of an application and fees.  Engineering may be required in some jurisdictions. Permits are required in most municipalities and need to be secured before a sign is built and installed.

POINT-OF-PURCHASE SIGN:  Signage that advertises a product at its point of sale.

POLYCARBONATE:  Various tough transparent thermoplastics characterized by high impact strength and high softening temperature.  Commonly referred to as ‘Lexan’ which is actually a name brand.

PUSH THROUGH:  A letter or graphic which is cut out, then pushed through a corresponding space that has been removed from a sign substrate.  The push-through is typically a different colour and/or material than the rest of the sign.  Typically used with an opaque sign cabinet and internal lighting.  “Push-through letters” are most often translucent acrylic letters that are pushed through a sign face panel to be flush or over-flush with the front surface of the sign face.

READABILITY:  The quality of a sign’s overall design that allows the viewer to correctly interpret the information presented on it.  Also, the optimum time and distance in which this can be done.  Letter size and style, legibility of typeface, colour contrast between letters and background, and a sign’s layout all contribute to readability. (See also conspicuity.)

READER BOARD:  A sign on which copy can be changed manually.  It usually consists of a panel on which individual letters or pictorials are mounted.  Used to advertise special prices,  items or events.  Also referred to as a read-o-graph.  The electronic version is referred to as a digital display or EMC (Electronic Message Centre).

RETAINER:  A framing member mounted around the perimeter of a sign face, and attached to the sign cabinet structure.  It is designed to attach the face to the cabinet and/or intended to provide a decorating trim piece.  Trim Cap or Jewelite are commonly used as retainers on channel letters.  A channel letter that does not have a trim cap may be made utilizing Let-R-Edge or Chanellume.  National Sign Link defaults to letter fabrication utilizing an Accubend process so our letters will have a Trim Cap.  Let-R-Edge is available upon request.

RETROFIT:  To replace the face of a sign with a different material than it was originally designed for or to replace the lighting of a sign with a different product.  Often, letters and cabinets are retro-fitted to replace fluorescent lighting with high energy efficient LED lighting.

REVEAL:  An indented detail on a sign.

ROUTED FACE:  Typically an aluminum face with letters or graphics cut out.  These cut out areas may be backed with translucent white acrylic or have push through letters inserted.

SANS SERIF:  Fonts without “serifs”.  Also known as block letters.  Examples:  Helvetica, Arial.

SECOND SURFACE:  Refers to a sign made of a clear substrate, such as acrylic, where the art is applied in reverse on what can be an interior face of the sign providing extra protection from the environment.

SELF CONTAINED:  Letters and signs which have all the necessary wiring, transformers, ballasts, etc. enclosed within.

SERIF:  A small line or embellishment finishing off the strokes of letters in some fonts.  Well-known serif fonts include Souvenir, Times New Roman and Garamond.

SIGN:  Any visual display with words or symbols designed to convey information or attract attention.  National Sign Link can provide all sign types.

SIGN BAND:  Generally, a horizontal area above a tenants’ entrances, architecturally designed to accommodate signage in a sign-centric manner.

STROKE WIDTH:  The width of the major lines comprising a letterform.  A wider stroke width is used to make a bolder letter; a narrower stroke width is used to make a lighter letter.

STUD MOUNT:  Threaded metal pins which are screwed into letter backs and then pushed into a wall where they are adhered and sealed into place.

SUBSTRATE:  The surface to which graphics are applied.  Can be plastics, metals, vinyls, banners, fabrics, papers, glass and many more.

VARIANCE:  Special administrative procedure by which one may obtain an exception to zoning rules such as height, setback and type of use.

VECTOR IMAGE:  Unlike JPEGs, GIFs, and BMP images, vector graphics are not made up of a grid of pixels.  Instead, vector graphics are comprised of paths, which are defined by a start and end point, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way.  A path can be a line, a square, a triangle, or a curvy shape.  These paths can be used to create simple drawings or complex diagrams.  Paths are even used to define the characters of specific typefaces.

Because vector-based images are not made up of a specific number of dots, they can be scaled to a larger size and not lose any image quality. If you blow up a pixel based graphic, it will look blocky, or “pixelated.”  When you blow up a vector graphic, the edges of each object within the graphic stay smooth and clean.  This makes vector graphics ideal for logos, which can be small enough to appear on a business card, but can also be scaled to fill a billboard.  Common types of vector graphics include files produced with Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, and EPS files.

VINYL GRAPHICS:  Vinyl lettering and graphics are one of the most efficient and cost effective means of producing banners, signs, vehicle markings and lettering.  Our vinyl products are available in various levels of quality to suit your usage or budget.  From temporary banners to long lasting fleet markings, vinyl has it covered.

VISIBILITY:  The quality of a letter, number, graphic, or symbol, which enables the observer to distinguish it from its surroundings or background.  Always pay attention to the wall colour when planning your display.  Corporations often have flexibility built into their branding so that alternates are acceptable.  Dual colour vinyl is a great help where this issue can’t be addressed any other way.

ZONING:  Municipal Planning system to standardize developments in a particular area.  Signage is usually regulated under a zoning bylaw pertaining to land use.  We can help you ensure that a design will be approved.