In November, 2004, OCsigns.com and our sister company, Bannersontime.com were interviewed by Sign of the Times magazine for a feature article titled Hanging High. The article was about how to install banners. Here is that article:
The basics of banner installation
Banners are an estimated $864 million industry (see original article on signweb.com, Hanging High, April 2006.) In the sign world, banners offer a relatively quick way to bring in revenue without extensive labor, and to offer a popular product for customers. Banner users know that banners aren't meant to last forever, but want them to last as long as possible. Proper installation is the key to a banner's survival, and it's the best way to stave off a banner's downfall: Wind.
"Poor installation is the biggest factor in a shortened life of a banner," said Jim McCullough, owner of McCullough Banner Co. (Strasburg, PA).
The specific method for selecting material, attachments and installation plans is often unique to the signmaker or installer, but some general guidelines can be helpful -- as well as advice from those in the banner business.
Selecting an edge finish and hardware for installation depends on the size and weight of the banner. Exterior banners, typically created from material ranging from 10 to 22 oz., are often finished using folded edges with double-stitched hems (or using banner tape) and grommets spaced approximately every 2 ft. Rope can be threaded through the entire banner length.
Reinforced corners and nylon webbing in the hem can provide added support, said Jay Snyder, owner of Quick Signs (Tustin, CA) and its division, BannersOntime.com. Econo Signs (Oak Lawn, IL) recommends hems, ropes and grommets particularly for banners more than 60 sq. ft.
McCullough suggests using grommets for a utility banner, and adding webbing through the grommets for a more demanding banner. Steel D-rings, similar to seatbelt construction, can also be sewn into the corners. The D-rings can be "sewn into banner ends with reinforced polyester webbing for easy, rope tie-down installation" for smaller banners, according to Econo Signs.
When using ropes for attachment, Prime Signs & Graphics (Farmingdale, NY) recommends pulling and attaching the ropes horizontally and keeping the tension equal in all four corners.
However, rope isn't the only option. Nick Puleo, president of U.S. Banner Corp.(Greenville, SC), said he's "big on bungee cords" for banner attachment versus rope. "When tying ropes, I think it's hard to get the stress to be even. When the load is uneven, it can blow out the banner," Puleo said. Bungee cords help distribute the stress more evenly across a banner, and rope can stretch and sometimes come loose.U.S. Banner Corp.
Al Bolek, owner of Sign Concepts (Addison, IL), uses banners sewn with webbing, not ropes, with grommets every 2 ft. The banner tends to slide from side to side when rope is threaded through it, and webbing holds the banner in place, Bolek said.
A larger banner can act like a sail when it catches the wind, and poles or trees holding a large banner in place have snapped under the wind pressure. A 15- to 20-ft. banner shouldn't be attached only by its corners. Webbing or ropes threaded through all of the grommets can help even out the pressure.
Against a wall
Some exterior banners are installed flat against a wall. With this type of banner installation, Bolek said the material must be pulled tight to minimize the amount of wind that can get behind it. Using all the grommets, which Snyder (OrangeCountySigns.com) recommends be placed every 2 to 2 1/2 ft. (or closer/farther apart depending on expected wind load), can offer added strength. Installers can use pin mounts or put washers and screws directly into the building to attach the banner. But make sure to check with the building owner -- and the city -- for any regulations regarding drilling or screwing into a wall.
For flat wall installation, Bolek suggests using plastic anchor plugs -- which hold well in brick mortar joints and concrete walls -- with sheetmetal screws and fender washers or brick shell. If the installer drills a hole, he could hit a hollow spot. So, maintain flexibility on mounting options.
Bolek said that putting an anchor in every grommet for bigger banners adds stability. "If you can't, it's a good idea to extend the webbing out 4 to 5 ft. from the banner and tie it to that for added resistance. If there's too much slack in a banner attachment, it will beat itself to death."
Another option is to mount steel cable on the wall instead of mounting directly on the face. A backplate through the wall would insure a secure tie-off point, according to the Industrial Fabrics Assn. Intl.
For a wall site that will have a permanent rotating collection of banners, stainless-steel eyehooks can be installed in the wall 2 ft. from the edge of the banner, Bolek said. This allows the owner of the building to easily attach new banners without professional assistance.
For across-street banners, Puleo suggests running metal cables across the road to attach the banner with snap hooks mounted across the top and bottom of the banner's length. For stability, he recommends also attaching bungee cords in each corner, which attach to poles or buildings on either side of the street. He said 3 x 30 ft. is his maximum size suggested for across a street. "If it's any bigger, it's a sail," Puleo said.
Customers often want a bigger across-street banner than recommended. That type of banner need only be as large as the copy, McCullough said.
Most cities have regulations for a banner hung across a street, Snyder said. Often, permanent guide wires are already installed for changing banner installations along a busy street. He recommends professional installation for across-street banners or those in a potentially windy location. For simple, small banners, some can be installed by the end-user armed with instructions.
Pole pockets, which create a space to secure the banner over a rod, can be used for banners on street poles or lamp posts, Puleo said. He recommends a maximum of 2 1/2- to 3-ft. long banners. Instead of rope, pole-installed banners can be attached via brackets on the poles or by fastening bands around the pole.
Interior banners don't have to contend with wind or the weather. These banners are often viewed from a closer distance than exterior banners, so the lettering or printing on the material may be more detailed. Installation influences how the banner is finished after decoration. Quick Signs said options include raw banner material (with no hem or grommets), single-folded taped edges, and a single-folded, double-stitched hem with grommets.
Wall mounting can include wood screws through washers and grommets, screw-in anchors, molly bolts or toggle bolts. Additional temporary indoor banners can be installed with a hook-and-loop Velcro® fastener, S-hooks, pole pockets and various banner stand products, Quick Signs reports.
Suction cups attached to grommet holes can be used for quick installation of small, temporary banners on the inside of windows.
Wind and weather
Wind is the enemy of a banner -- it's the primary reason for their demise. As banner size increases, so does potential wind load. Banners transfer wind load through their attachments onto the building or pole, which serves as a compression anchor. High winds can destroy even a well-installed banner or the structure to which it's attached, Prime Signs & Graphics reports. The company suggests removing the banner if very high wind is expected.
Some banners are hard to access if a storm is on the horizon, and wind can be difficult to predict, making removal often impractical. So, it's a good idea to do everything possible to reduce wind load on a banner.
Wind slits are an option, though signmakers have varying opinions on their benefits. The half-moon-shaped wind slits, cut into the banner at specific spacing with a special tool, allow some wind to flow through the material, thus reducing wind load. An alternative option is to use mesh banner material, if the situation allows.
Opponents to wind slits suggest that the cuts don't really make enough impact to the wind load to justify the potential detraction from the banner's appearance. Puleo doesn't recommend wind slits because the cuts could blow out and create noticeable holes. "Slits relieve 15% of wind load, so it's minimal benefit that's not always worth it," he said.
Snyder said he uses wind slits in high-wind situations, but tries to avoid it when possible for the sake of appearance. McCullough cuts wind slits if requested, but "I don't think it makes much of a difference. More typically I just recommend a heavier fabric." Cutting may void the material's warranty, so check with the manufacturer.
Mother Nature can also wreak havoc on the installation process. Banner material can stiffen in cold temperatures, which can make it more difficult to install. When it's really cold, Bolek suggests bringing the banner outside just prior to hanging it, so the banner doesn't have the chance to stiffen before it's installed.
Because a banner's life can be dependent on the wind conditions, Puleo doesn't like to give customers a guarantee for exterior-banner longevity. Sometimes customers want to use a banner as a permanent exterior sign in a seasonal environment, which isn't really the intention, Puleo said. "Don't have unrealistic expectations -- banners are temporary signage." But installed correctly, they can last a long time.
|Estimating Wind Load|
The Industrial Fabrics Assn. Intl. (Roseville, MN) offers a formula for calculating wind load that multiplies the size of the banner with a benchmark wind speed, set at 75 mph. So, a 10 x 10-ft. banner (100 sq. ft.) multiplied by 15 lbs. per square ft. of force, produces 1,500 lbs. of wind load. If that banner was hung between two poles, you would divide the figure by two for the potential wind load per pole (750 lbs. each). Divide the number of fixtures per pole to find the individual load per fixture.
The IFAI suggests consulting an engineer for more precise calculations. The formula is only an estimate.
|Questions to Ask the Customer|
* Will the banner be used indoors or outdoors?
* How long will it be displayed?
* What are the weather conditions in the installation area?
* Where will it be installed (flat against a building, between two poles etc.)?
* Are there city ordinances that apply to banners and building codes that dictate installation methods?
* What's your budget?
Quick Signs and its division, BannersOntime.com, outlines its own methods for installing various banner types:
* Against a building: Use 10- to 13-oz. banner material, grommeted so it can be fastened to the building through all grommets with screws and washers.
* Against a chain-link fence: The 13-oz. banner material, in this case, is possibly reinforced with nylon webbing stitched within the hem. Nylon ties or wires are interlaced through grommets and fencing.
* Freestanding banner frame: A three-sided pole-pocket banner created with 13-oz. material, possibly cut with wind slits if it's extra large, can include corner cutouts for easy assembly. An optional bungee cord can be attached through grommets and attached to a frame.
* Tied between posts or trees: A 13- to 16-oz. banner with stitched rope threaded through the entire banner length allows tie-up installation to pull the on rope only -- not the banner.
* Over-the-street banner: Heavyweight 16- to 22-oz. banner material is usually sewn with nylon webbing in the hem, and the hem is single-folded and double-lockstitched with reinforced corners and grommets. Wind slits are cut, and rope is stitched along banner top. Other options are D-rings, O-rings or snap hooks.
* Street-light banners: Heavyweight, double-sided, blockout banner fabric with pole pockets are stitched at the top and bottom and installed using light-pole brackets.