What is the Useful Life of The Average Road Sign?

What is the Useful Life of The Average Road Sign?

Posted by Jeffrey Dornbos on 8th Jul 2016

Do you know how long road signs are supposed to last? To many, road signs seem to appear over night. We’re not always sure how they get where they are, or when—they’re just there. But, believe it or not, it’s someone’s responsibility to update inaccurate and old road signs. And it’s most likely the same person or organization that is responsible for purchasing the necessary signs in the first place.

Now, we know that road signs aren’t really a mystery. Perhaps you’ve even seen a road sign being put up or replaced. The point is that it can take a lot of time and effort to make sure that every road sign is accurate, safe and readable. Plus, installing and replacing road signs can be a hassle.

If you didn’t know or couldn’t guess, the average life of a typical road sign is 7 years; however, weather, location and the quality of the sign all impact how long the sign will actually hold up. Read on to find out what would be a useful life for the run-of-the-mill road sign.

High Quality Road Signs Last Longer

Who would’ve guessed that the type of material used to make road signs would affect how long they last? Most signs are made with reflective sheeting. It is placed over the sign so it can be seen easier in rough weather conditions and at nighttime. There are a few different kinds of reflective sheeting, including: engineering grade, high intensity grade and diamond grade.

Engineering Grade and Engineering Grade Prismatic

When we say that the “typical” road sign lasts 7 years, we are talking about how long the most commonly used type of sign lasts. Most signs are made using  engineering grade reflective sheeting. There are two types of this kind of reflective sheeting, including: engineering grade and engineering grade prismatic.

The two variations have the same initial brightness; however, they are manufactured differently. Engineering grade reflective sheeting is made using glass bead technology, in which the beads are coated on one side by vaporized aluminum to make them reflective. This type of reflective sheeting has been used for over 50 years and is the most common type of road sign used, as well as the cheapest option.

Engineering prismatic sheeting is made using a newer technology. This type of sheeting uses microscopic plastic prisms that reflect light back towards the cars coming at the sign. This option is more durable than regular engineering grade signage and does not fade as quickly.

High Intensity and Diamond Grade Reflective Sheeting

High intensity and diamond grade reflective sheeting are a more expensive option compared to the average engineering grade sign; however, in the long run, they are more cost-efficient because they have a 10 year warranty for  3M High Intensity Prismatic and a 12 year warranty for 3M Diamond Grade. Also, when signs last longer, it keeps men from having to enter dangerous situations in order to replace them.

These signs are perfect for areas that have a lot of distractions present or in locations with harsh environmental conditions. They are guaranteed to last 10-12 years, but many states have their diamond grade signs on a 17-year replacement cycle.

The Environment Can Shorten the Life of a Road Sign

North, west, south or east—which way does the sign face? The direction a road sign faces can affect the length of its life. Also, don’t discredit geographic location. If a sign is in the desert sun, it might not last as long as a sign that hardly ever endures direct sunlight.

Does This Sign Need to Be Here?

Last, but not least: does a sign need to be where it is? Road signs are necessary for safety and the proper regulation of traffic. If there are too many signs in a single place or a sign isn’t being read as it should, perhaps it does not have a very useful life.

Buy a Long-Lasting Road Sign from Dornbos Sign & Safety, Inc.!

Check out Dornbos Sign & Safety, Inc.’s website today to look at all of our high-quality signs and accessories. We offer every grade of reflective sheeting in order to meet all of our customers’ varying needs. If you have questions or need assistance finding what you’re looking for, give us a call at 800-922-0029 or fill out our online contact form