Channel Letters

What Are Channel Letters?

Channel letters are the metal and plastic letters you see on store signage. They’re used on public and commercial buildings and usually internally illuminated. You can see them from miles away because of how they’re lit and the way they’re constructed to stand out.

When creating a custom channel letter sign, you can create hundreds of letter combinations with channel letters by using different fonts, materials, sizes, colors. You can also choose from neon or light-emitting diode (LED) modules to illuminate channel letters. Not only are there various types of channel letters to choose from, but they typically last for years.



Types of Channel Letters


Standard Channel Letters

Standard channel letters are 3-D letters that are covered with a thick type of plastic and illuminated from within. Illuminated channel letters are made up of several components: the channel, the returns, the plastic covering, the backing, and the lighting.

The channel is usually made from metal or aluminum that’s cut to the prescribed letter shape. The sides of the channel letter are known as returns, which are formed by bending aluminum sheets around the aluminum backing. After these are attached, they create a solid can that forms the letter shape. The letter is painted and then fitted with neon gas tubes or LED modules.


Exposed Neon Channel Letters

These channel letters have no plastic covering, which allows people to see the neon. The neon may be covered with clear acrylic to prevent it from being damaged by weather and to keep birds from nesting in them.


Back-Lit Channel Letters

These are opaque on the front and illuminated from behind, which gives an effect of negative space when viewing them at night. The letter face is constructed from aluminum and the light floods the space of the letter, which is why they’re also known as “halo letters.”

These letters are expensive to produce, because LED is usually installed in the back and then the LED is protected with clear plastic to create an effect of diffusion and to protect the light. The letters are mounted about 1-½” from the wall to separate them from the face of the building, which should be light-colored to create the best effect.

There are various effects achievable with the halo lighting depending on the color, texture, and sheen of the building. Dark buildings that are mirror-like are not recommended for use with back-lit channel letters.


Front/Back-Lit Channel Letters

These channel letters are illuminated from the front and the back to produce a dramatic appearance.


Mounting Channel Letters

Channel letters can be attached directly to the building or they can be mounted on a raceway or wireway. A raceway is a mounting structure that contains the sign’s electrical components i.e. the power supply.

A wireway is a mounting structure, but it will only contain wiring. It’s thinner than a raceway.

Face-lit channel letters can also be mounted with a bottom and top rail with metal arms to rest directly on the building surface.

Channel letters are an eye-catching choice for your signage. Contact us for a fast wholesale channel letter quotation.