Signage in your store: how to protect them from UV rays and moisture?
The popularity of self-made signage for outdoor use is increasing, but there is a lot of uncertainty about their protection. In this blog, we will take a closer look at protecting price and plant information signs in garden centres and nurseries from the effects of UV radiation. Moreover, we will share some useful tips on how to maintain and protect these signs so that they last longer and look their best.
It is often thought that it is sufficient if a (price) sign is only water-resistant. But this is unfortunately not the case. Besides water, UV rays coming from sunlight are the prints' biggest enemies. This is because these rays have a tendency to break down the pigments in the ink, resulting in a faded print. This can happen in the shade, on cloudy days, behind glass, or even under artificial light. Several factors come into play, such as the quality of the ink or toner used, the duration of exposure to light, and the intensity of the light, whether sunlight or artificial light.
Ink usage is important
There are different types of inks and toners, each with their own lifespan:
- Dye-based ink,: standard inkjet ink
- Pigment-based ink,: professional ink used in high-end photo printers
- Solvent-based ink, ink used in professional sign printers
- Toner, used in laser printers
Without protection, dye ink takes 3-7 weeks to fade, 3-6 months for pigment ink, 5-8 months for solvent ink and 4-7 months for toner. These are only guidelines and the actual lifespan may vary.
How to prevent UV fading?
Preventing fading depends not only on the material that is used, but also on the ink or toner. An effective way to delay fading is to apply a protective film or clear varnish with UV-blocking properties. These products are often referred to as "UV blockers" and while they cannot eliminate fading completely, they can significantly reduce the rate at which it occurs.
Besides using the right ink to prevent fading, the type of paper you use is also important, as garden centres and nurseries are often humid. Nevertear paper is therefore a good option to consider. It is a moisture- and dirt-resistant material, making it last longer than 'ordinary' materials.
It is impossible to predict in advance how long a print with protection will last before fading. One test that can be performed is to cover part of the print with silver foil or opaque black paper, and then leave it outside in full sun for a month.
The covered part can then be compared with the uncovered part to see how big the difference in fading is. However, this still does not ensure the durability of future prints because of the variability in UV radiation. After all, there is more UV in summer than in winter!
In general, pigment ink or laser printers are the most suitable and affordable.
Clear varnish or laminate film offer good protection, but each has its own advantages. Matt finishes offer better protection than glossy ones because they let less light through. This also means prints are more visible as there is less reflection.
Signs in garden centres
Protecting signage in garden centres and nurseries from UV radiation is essential for the life of the prints. While it is impossible to completely prevent prints from fading, using UV-blocking protective films or clear varnishes, as well as moisture- and dirt-repellent materials such as Nevertear, can help to significantly extend the life of your prints.
Make your own price signs?
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