World’s Best Reflective Address Sign

“What makes a good reflective address sign? What are the important features to look for?”

Let us help you compare different sign materials and constructions.

Opaque black and highway green
The two most popular background colors are opaque black and highway green.

What color is best?

Colors behave differently when seen under the headlights of a vehicle. Halation (also known as “overglow”) is a major headache for emergency workers. This occurs on signs with a green, red or brown background. To overcome problems with halation, we recommend address signs with a black background.
Halation, or "Overglow", can be a big problem for reflective address signs.
Halation Address Sign
Overglow Address Sign
Halation, or "Overglow", can be a big problem for reflective address signs.
We are then often asked, “Why is black better?”. For a bit of background, we need a short explanation of how reflective films have changed over the years. 3M (with a dominant share of this market) has done incredible work on making reflective markers both more durable and far brighter than ever before. Glass beads have been supplanted by prismatic reflectives. Engineer grade signs are losing ground to High Intensity or Diamond Grade signs. The upgraded materials mean that most signs can be spotted from a greater distance and from a greater angle. As the population ages and as more and more visual clutter masks highway signage, the brighter 3M films are clearly superior and enhance driver safety.
Reflective address signs, unlike many street signs must be viewed at close proximity – to read your address number. Additionally, your reflective street number sign is typically seen at the level of the vehicle’s headlights. These, along a number of other factors, tend to exaggerate the halation effects of a reflective sign. A solid reflective background (such as seen in the green sign above right) can overwhelm the viewer. The entire sign glows brilliantly. Although EMS workers can easily spot the sign (say, from 400 feet away), they cannot easily decipher the actual address as they get closer to the reflective address sign.
Highway green address signs are great by day – but can be too bright by night.

What is the Best Printing Technique?

Most competitive address signs use either stick-on letters or ink jet print. These are two inexpensive, yet popular address sign techniques. Both are used for novelty signs. But, let’s explain why these two techniques create problems for outdoor “real” signs.
  • Signs using stick-on letters often fail in the field. These letters can be peeled off and have many more points of vulnerability. Often, users experience wrinkling – in that the vinyl stickers, over time, don’t expand and contract at the same rate as the base metal or the background film. Moreover, these flimsy letters are very difficult to apply and line up neatly.
  • The second common technique is to use a UV ink jet printing,. This is the same technique used for posters and banners. These banner presses give a rough finish to a sign and most ink jet presses and inks have an expected outdoor life of 4 years or less.
Inexpensive stick-on numbers
Most competitors use inexpensive stick-on numbers.
There is a reason that virtually all government ordered street signs in the US use 3M matched component printing and films as well as a unitary construction. Our factory makes 100’s of thousands of street signs per year and these reflective address signs are made in the same way.

What other Factors are Important?

An important factor to consider is metal thickness. We use a heavy duty 80 mil thick aluminum. With print on both sides, the metal provides tremendous internal strength. These signs withstand the inevitable abuse on the road. Many competitors use an insubstantial 30 or 40 mil aluminum. Further, we recommend High Intensity film. Note that most recent governmental bids now specify the use of High Intensity 3M film over the traditional Engineer Grade signs.
Heavy duty metal withstands abuse.
Heavy duty metal withstands
High Intensity reflective signs
High Intensity reflective signs are recommended for address signs.

Which design is best?

Most mailbox posts have both a vertical and horizontal element. Make sure to measure your post to make sure that the sign fits. We offer both vertical and horizontal designs.
House Number Horizontal Sign
House Number Horizontal Street Sign
The horizontal design can accommodate space for your name or street name.
Click here to select a Reflective 911 Address Sign design.