How to Build a Portable Sign Frame

sign. no entry sign. strictly private. image by L. Shat from

Portable sign frames are one way for a business owner to make a good first impression on a potential audience, and they are an effective way to get the word out about your organization in multiple locations. Whether your portable sign frame is for indoor or outdoor use, fabricating your display with quality materials will ensure that your sign looks good, gets your message across and stands up to the test of time.

Determine where your sign will be used and what size you want it to be. A smaller sign will be easier to carry to events, but a larger sign will help your message is seen by your audience. The American Institute of Graphic Arts says that a well-designed sign “must display useful information, be placed at an accessible point in the space and at a proper viewing height, and be adequately illuminated.”

Construct a wooden, sandwich-board-style A-frame display. First purchase two sheets of plywood cut to your desired size, then paint each plywood sheet with weatherproof outdoor paint. Connect the sheets at the top with a hinge. To protect your signboard and poster from the elements and the wear and tear of handling, purchase two sheets of clear PVC plastic and cut them to the size of your plywood sheeting. Screw the PVC plastic into the wood, but be sure to leave enough space to slide your poster underneath the plastic.

Brainstorm to determine the message you are attempting to convey. Remember to keep your message simple so that viewers can understand it in a few seconds. The length of your message will determine how large your typeface can be. Remember that larger typeface, which can be easily seen from a distance, is more effective than cluttered lettering. Then, consider when and where your message will be seen: Will it be seen at night or in daylight? Finally, remember to use colors and typefaces that are consistent with your organization's look and feel.

Paint your message onto a separate, thin substrate such as plastic or aluminum. Alternatively, you can use a word processing software program to create printed poster artwork sized to fit your sign display. Slide your finished poster into the sign frame, and your display is ready for use.

Utilize your new sandwich-board poster frame to its highest potential by creating different poster prints to announce sales, promote events and holidays, and changes to your company. Constantly rotating your message will ensure that your name stays fresh in your audience's mind. Always evaluate the effectiveness of your promotions by randomly asking your audience if they can recall the message you were attempting to promote.


  • Research local ordinances that govern the use and displays of signs in public places in your area.


  • Reduce your risk of liability by ensuring that your portable sign frame is placed in a safe location where people will not trip over it.



About the Author

Rene Agredano is a traveling journalist and entrepreneur based in Fort Collins, Colo. Since 1998, she has covered travel, home-and-garden, fitness, animal care and other lifestyle topics for publications such as "The Times-Standard" newspaper of northern California. Agredano holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Chapman University.

Photo Credits

  • sign. no entry sign. strictly private. image by L. Shat from