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The Creative Possibilities of Channel Letters

Channel lettering is a popular signage technique that you probably see every day. The cut-out shapes emphasize the business’ name or logo because it follows the shape of the letters or image, making it a great choice for anyone looking for a unique and eye catching sign. Traditional, or face-lit, channel letters enhance the design of the lettering or logo through simple illumination of the face of the sign, but there is a whole variety of channel lettering techniques that can truly make a sign shine.

Channel letter signs are three dimensional; they are composed of a back, sides (or returns), and a face, and different materials are available for each component. The channel is usually cut from sheet metal in the shape of the letter or logo, creating the back of the sign and the basis for its shape. Aluminum is a common choice for this component because it won’t rust. The sides are made from a strip of the same metal, bent around the shape of the back. This is then painted and fit with the interior lighting components such as neon tubes or LEDs. LEDs allow channel letters to be as thin as 2 inches. The face of the sign is usually a translucent acrylic or polycarbonate cut to fit the shape of the channel. The illuminated letters are eye catching at night or in dimmer light. Letters can be coloured, and matched with a corresponding LED for maximum effect. Warm colours such as red and orange, for example are matched with warm LEDs.

Traditional face lit channel letters have a translucent, illuminated face and opaque back and sides. Exposed neon offers a retro-twist on this look by using neon tubing for the internal lighting and a clear acrylic face. Halo lit, or backlit, channel letters create an interesting modern look. Halo lit letters have an opaque, aluminum face and internal lighting directed towards a translucent or clear acrylic back. The sign is usually mounted slightly away from the wall so the lighting shines through the back onto the surface of the building, creating a halo-effect around the letters. This is a sophisticated and elegant way to make a sign stand out at night. Halo lit channel letters also incorporate the colour, sheen, and texture of the building’s surface into their effect. Plastic formed letters offer many creative opportunities. Plastic signs can be illuminated on the side and face. The back is made from moulded plastic with a raised lip, which a moulded plastic cover snaps over. The face can be flat, round, or prismatic. Cut vinyl can be applied to the plastic to create light and colour effects, or a translucent chrome finish can make the letters look chrome by daylight but lit up at night.
Whether you are looking for a sleek and sophisticated look, a fun and funky style, or something retro, channel letter signs offer diverse options with a wide range of creative possibilities to suit your brand and style.

Channel Letters

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