A Basic Guide to Bandit Signs

Coroplast sign on a metal stake

Bandit signs are an 18″ x 24″ cor plastic sign on a metal stake. Shown here is our standard stake.

You may have heard the term “bandit signs” and wondered what those are.

Contrary to what the name implies, they’re not used to track down local hoodlums. They’re simply yard signs by another name. Sometime people refer to them as lawn signs, as well.

“Bandit signs” are signs on stakes that can be placed anywhere there’s soft enough ground to secure the stake. They consist of the stake, and long lasting, weather-proof 4-mil corrugated plastic, a light weight polypropylene plastic material.

They’re most effective when placed adjacent to areas of high vehicular or pedestrian traffic. They’re simple signs, but they offer unique advantages.

When should you use “bandit signs”, what do you need to make them, and what are your options?

Common applications and advantages

The most common applications for “bandit signs” are political signs–which are all over these days– retail promotional signage, real estate signs,  and event marketing signage for schools, clubs, church functions, etc.  If you’re placing yard signs, look for sites that offer a clear unobstructed view from major roadways, intersections, or public gathering places.

Keep in mind that you can’t just plant them anywhere. Placement on private property requires the permission of the property owner. Use of public space should be done with permission from the local authorities. You could of course just plant them and run, like a…bandit in the night, but if you take that approach, don’t expect your signs to stay put very long.

Since we see these signs everywhere, one could rightly assume they must be effective. The primary advantages are cost, durability, and simplicity. Since the substrates and stakes cost only about $1.75 per sign, they’re one of the most economical sign display systems available. Decorated with a glossy calendared vinyl like EnduraGloss 500, the total material cost per sign is less than $2.35, so these should be very profitable staples for your sign business.  And since they’re made from polypropylene and steel, they’ll last much longer than the sales, events, and political campaigns for which they’re commonly used.

As far as ease of installation is concerned, nothing beats sliding the upper stakes into the sign blank’s flutes and stomping it into the ground. Speaking of installation, there are a few options regarding stakes and sign sizes. If you’re going to sell enough yard signs to make out like a bandit, you might want to examine all the options you can present your customers.

Sign and Stake Options

Basic Bandit combo: By far the most common “bandit sign” configuration is an 18” by 24” corrugated plastic sign blank mounted on a 10” x 30” metal stake. If you think of all the varieties of sizes and options for yard signs as an ice cream parlor’s menu, this would be vanilla. There are fancier choices, but this is the most popular. The sign blank is polypropylene plastic with its flutes running vertically along the 18” axis. So when you design yard signs, the default orientation is always “landscape”: 24” wide and 18” tall.  Click here for more info about cor-plastic sign blanks.

The standard sign stake is an H configuration with two horizontal crossbars 14” apart. The upper cross bar cradles the bottom of the sign blank displaying it 14” above ground.  The lower bar limits how far into the ground the vertical stakes go. The upper stakes protrude 8” into the sign blank’s flutes and the lower stakes anchor the whole display by being inserted 8” into terra firma.

Heavy Duty Stakes for Bandit Signs

Heavy duty stakes for harder ground or windy conditions.

Heavy Duty: One of the weaknesses of the vanilla option is the 9 gauge wire used in the standard stakes. It works wonderfully for most applications. But if you have to apply extra pressure to sink the stake into hard ground, or if you’re placing the sign in an area where it may be subject to sustained high winds, you might need heavy duty sign stakes.

Heavy duty stakes have the same 9 gauge wire at the top, but the vertical stakes are made from sterner stuff.

Our heavy duty Endura Stakes are made from ¼” galvanized wire for superior rigidity. The vertical arms protrude 10” into the sign blank flutes to hold it more securely and the distance between the crossbars is 12” instead of 14”, so the sign is 2” lower and subject to a little less wind shear.

Half Stake Cor-plastic holder

Half stakes put signs at ground level.

Half Stake: On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have simpler stakes designed for low profile displays.

The Endura Half Stake only has one horizontal crossbar. This means, when you plant the lower stakes into the ground, the sign blank is displayed at ground level so that it looks like it’s standing upright on its own. Since the sign blank is now sitting on the ground, it’s obviously not a good choice to plant in a grassy field unless you want to incorporate the local flora into your design.

One of my neighbors in Sherman Texas has an election sign on a half stake displayed in her front yard. Since she has a professionally maintained lawn, it serves as a premium quality display area for the sign.  If it were in my yard, it might not work as well.

Spider Stake Holder for Bandit Signs

This plastic spider stake holder is 8″ wide by 26.5″ high.

Spider Stake: Spider Stakes are the modern option. They have a single stake in the ground, which branches out as it flows upward in a curvilinear V shape toward the sign blank. The effect is a leaner, more aesthetically pleasing display. They don’t appear to be as sturdy as a traditional two wire step stake. But we’ve tested them in Texas and Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, and found them to be just as reliable.

In addition to the more appealing design, spider stakes are a more environmentally sustainable option because they’re made exclusively from recycled materials. This gives you a “greener” option for your environmentally conscious customers. The Spider Stake has the added advantage of a narrower 8” gap between the upper stakes that hold the sign blank so it can be used for smaller displays like 12” x 18” sign blanks . That means more creative freedom for your design staff and customers.

“Bandit signs” are a staple of the sign business, especially useful for startups. You can stick with the vanilla option of 18” x 24” signs on standard Endura Stakes and please most of the people most of the time. Or you can add other flavors to your menu for customers who want something slimmer, something stronger, or something greener.  By mastering this simple but effective sign display system, you can indeed make out like a bandit.

 

* Vinyl cost based on 60% coverage of a 1.8sf sign blank at 32¢/sf.