Ways to take care of your indoor and outdoor self-storage signage


Signage is an important part of every self-storage facility. Operators invest significant sums to ensure that it represents their business and communicates properly with potential and current tenants. But if it’s not well maintained, it sends the wrong message. This is why regular maintenance should not be neglected.

Your signs serve as a brand manager for your business. They are an indispensable marketing tool for any commercial or retail establishment, welcoming customers and providing a professional first impression. But if your signs are dirty, damaged, neglected or outdated, that first impression can quickly turn negative. Preventive maintenance helps protect your reputation. It also ensures you get as many years of service from your signage as possible, increasing your initial return on investment.

Let’s look at the types of signaling commonly used in self-storage and the best ways to take care of them.

Types of signaling

Self-storage operators use signs of all types to convey messages, whether it’s spreading the company’s brand or giving various instructions to customers. Signage used inside the management office and storage buildings is primarily made of resin, acrylic or vinyl. These may include:

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    Lobby and office directories

  • Window and wall graphics
  • Braille and other American With Disabilities Act compliant signs
  • Orientation signs

Outdoor signs must be able to withstand variable weather conditions, especially when in environments with extreme temperatures and precipitation. These are usually made of aluminum, fiberglass, high density urethane or stainless steel. Examples include:

  • building panels
  • Channel letters
  • Property directories
  • Traffic signs (signage at ground level designed to attract the attention of drivers)
  • Illuminated signs

Take care of your signs

Always follow the cleaning instructions provided by your sign manufacturer. No one knows the materials and methods used to make each product better than this company. She is therefore in the best position to advise you on the safest and most effective methods of taking care of your investment. Even if you don’t have access to the manufacturer’s instructions, the following simple tips will help keep your signs looking their best for as long as possible.

Remove the packaging. When you receive a new sign, it is usually wrapped in a protective cover to secure it during transport. Remove it immediately, as it can actually damage the surface when exposed to certain elements.

Establish a schedule. All panels should be cleaned at least every three months. By setting a schedule and sticking to it, the task will only take a few minutes, because the dirt won’t have time to settle.

Keep them clean. Interior panels should be wiped gently with a clean, soft cotton cloth. You can also use canned air to safely remove dust and debris. If that’s not enough, you can make a cleaning solution using a mixture of mild dish soap and water. Gently wipe the panel with a soft, clean, damp (not soggy) cloth and follow with a clean, dry cloth. Work one small area at a time. Leaves no moisture! Also, never rub the surface where the lettering appears.

Exterior aluminum, fiberglass or acrylic signage should be cleaned using car shampoo with wax, which preserves and protects the painted surface.

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If necessary, use a graffiti remover. This specially formulated product works well on a variety of surfaces, provided it is used correctly. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not use it in direct sunlight.
  • Before applying it to the whole panel, test it on an inconspicuous area.
  • Use a soft cloth and make sure the area stays moist for the duration of the cleaning.
  • Rinse with cold water.
  • Avoid applying graffiti remover to vinyl text as it may damage the surface.

Pay attention. Be very careful on signs with embossed letters or graphics. These should only be placed in air-conditioned areas and should not be exposed to high humidity or humidity. If this type of panel gets wet, dry it immediately to avoid damage.

In addition, certain materials should never be used to clean your signage, such as:

  • Abrasive sponges, rags or scrubbing brushes
  • Detergent with ammonia or abrasives
  • Acids, solvents or methylated spirits
  • Pressure washer
  • Raclette
  • Razor blades
  • Any cloth used for other cleaning applications that may have come into contact with harmful chemicals

Note: If you attempt to clean vehicle wraps and graphics, use extreme care to avoid damage to the substrate.

Pay attention to environmental factors. If your self-storage facility is in an industrial area, you may need to clean your exterior signs more often. Airborne pollutants like lime, sulfur dioxide, and oil-based deposits can wreak havoc on the surface. Other things that can impact panels include:

  • Foliage and tree resin
  • Bird droppings
  • Salt coupled with high humidity (coastal areas)
  • Harmful UV rays

Protect the base. When installing exterior panels with posts, place native plants around the bottom. This can help protect the post and base from damage from landscaping crews who may cut the panel with mowing equipment.

Check for damage. Regularly checking your self-storage panels for damage and malfunctions should be an integral part of your site maintenance program. Although you may be tempted to repair a damaged or broken sign, this is generally not recommended. For things like changing light bulbs and replacing lettering, it’s best to work with a professional signage company that has the equipment and know-how to create a seamless solution.

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Plan replacement

No matter how much you care about a sign, at some point it’s time to say goodbye. Over time, even the best-maintained signage will fall victim to hazardous environments, weather and age. Once colors or graphics start to fade, don’t wait until your message is unreadable before scheduling replacement. Give yourself and your supplier partner plenty of time to design and install new signage before your current ones wear out.

Considering the impact that signage can have on your self-storage operation, maintenance is essential. Showing pride in your establishment is a good reflection of the company and will be appreciated by employees as well as customers.

Steven Weber is responsible for self-storage sales for Flashing signs, a full-service company that provides permitting, fabrication, installation and maintenance of exterior and interior signage. For the past five years, he has helped self-storage owners nationwide with their signage and branding needs from concept to completion. To reach him, call 877.433.4466; E-mail [email protected].


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