Weather or Not: Creating Lasting Signs for Coastal Climate

Wilmington draws many in for its generally mild weather and beautiful beaches; living on the coast has its perks. Coastal conditions, however, can pose challenges for building signs that last. Coinciding with the advent of hurricane season, we’d like to highlight some of our tried and true materials and methods for weathering the coastal climate. Attention to these details makes our signs durable and vibrant for years. First, let’s discuss the local climate.

Coastal conditions

Our air is humid, almost year-round. Moisture in the air seeps into any porous material, which causes the material to swell, adding weight and cracks over time. We are all aware of our frequent rainstorms, so we build signs to get wet and potentially stay wet, using high-quality sealants, paints and laminates.

A second weather factor is wind. Any exterior sign will catch some wind, but the larger the face the more it functions like a sail. No sign is expected to survive hurricane-force winds, however sturdy mounting techniques and high-quality materials are key to withstanding common windy conditions. We consider wind with every sign installation. With years of trial and error experience, we have learned to brace signs effectively to prevent common structural failures. 

A third factor to consider is UV exposure. Depending on the location and the direction the sign is facing, the sun can fade and crack low-quality media and paint quickly. This effect is especially noticeable on vehicle wraps and metal signs that retain heat. Again, years of experience have led us to our tried and true media and paints to reduce sun damage.

The Port City Signs Difference

Your sign is an investment in your business; you want it to look like new for years. Our experimentation has delved beyond material types and brands and into fine-tuning shop processes and production methods to ensure every finished sign looks beautiful and stays beautiful.

Here are a few of our key processes and products aimed at durability.


We don’t use plywood often, but on projects that need it, we don’t source from box stores. We use sign-ready, marine-grade plywood. It’s made with waterproof adhesive and has exceptional weatherability, resisting warping and delamination.

When it comes to wooden signposts, we’re serious. We only use high-grade treated wood, which we dry under pressure in our warehouse. Anyone who understands wood knows that despite the best efforts some posts torque while drying. We discard these posts rather than trying to make them work. Once the posts are dry, imperfections are filled and the posts are sanded, primed, and painted. You can count on our team to install straight posts that stay straight and that keep their consistent painted color, without bleed-through. For the most durable post, though, we always recommend aluminum, which we can color match to any color.

Sealing out the elements

We edge-seal all porous sign materials to prevent water from seeping in over time. This ensures plywood and PVC sign faces resist swelling, warping, and stained edges even after multiple rainstorms.

In addition, all long-term sign faces receive a UV-resistant laminate top layer, which prevents fading for many years. We also offer graffiti-resistant laminate. 

We use the highest quality two-part polyurethane paint for our painted sign faces, including aluminum and high-density urethane (HDU), which creates an extremely hard surface finish guaranteed to hold strong and stay vibrant for 10 years.

The MOST durable sign face options:

These are some options for sign faces that withstand harsh elements for years, by default. 

King ColorCore is vibrant, fade-resistant, entirely non-porous, and as a bonus, graffiti and adhesives will never stick to it. ColorCore is layered with contrasting colors. We carve into it revealing the core color to create graphic elements. The only downside is the material has limited color combinations. But if you find one you like – it will never need to be painted or refinished!

For a more versatile choice, consider HDU. It can be carved and textured to imitate wood, painted any color combination, and will not absorb water. When painted with our high-quality urethane paint process – it will resist fading, scratching and graffiti.

For detailed graphics or text-heavy signs, painted or printed aluminum with our high-quality UV laminate is a durable choice. Flat aluminum signs are long-lasting and economical, or aluminum can be made into dimensional letters with the same enduring characteristics.

In summary, lasting quality is our goal. To achieve that, we’re very selective about the materials that we recommend and offer. Building a sign that will look good for years to come doesn’t happen by default, and we see it as worth the investment. One high-grade sign could outlast an inexpensive or poorly made sign threefold, especially in our deceptively “mild” climate.

Contact our team today if you're ready to upgrade! Our experienced professionals are on standby and ready to fulfill your signage needs.