Enhancing Community Value through Signage

By Mary Harris

Signage is a very effective way to not only update, but add distinction and beauty to a neighborhood community. Research compiled by Newton Graham Consultants, a national economic forecaster, showed that the 1981-82 housing downturn proved that the best-looking neighborhoods had the highest resale values for its homes. The same data applies to the recent housing downturn, which is evident when looking at homes in well maintained areas because they show a greater retention of home owners and a greater return on investment.

This is where the community entrance signs can make a difference. A well thought out and aesthetically pleasing entrance sign can convey a certain type of community for the homeowners, while also providing direction to visitors. Like a park entrance sign, a community entrance sign should be bright, clear and informative as it embodies the personality of the community it signifies. Monument signage is essential to a residential development. Monument structures add a professional look in addition to assisting individuals to find their location.

Because a monument sign is one of the first items that a newcomer notices upon entering the neighborhood, it is very important to make an impression. Stone and brick monuments are popular and long lasting, and it is recommended that faces and letters be made of aluminum. There are different coatings that can be applied to aluminum (powder coating, baked enamel or regular paint) which all have different life spans, so be sure to understand the maintenance costs associated with the different coatings. 

Another popular option for entrance signs is sandblasted or routed signs. Typically, this type of sign will need to be repainted every five to seven years to keep them looking fresh. These signs can be made from Cedar, Redwood or a resin composite material, which can be a less expensive, more durable alternative depending on the situation.

Older HOAs often have signs that have outlived their usefulness and that have become dilapidated. A good way to start the talk about beautifying the neighborhood is to survey the community and ask which signs should be replaced or refurbished. Sometimes it is possible to refurbish existing signage to freshen up or completely change the look. Clearly defining HOA signage can help maintain a manicured and uncluttered look.

A wonderful way for a community to provide a prestigious and well maintained look is to use decorative traffic control signs. Many options exist including a variety of finial tops, different wraps around the base of the poles, and even scrolls and brackets. The size of the pole also makes a difference, as typically the larger the pole is, the more pronounced the sign looks. Sign pole sizes range from 2.5 inches to 8 inches in diameter. Keep in mind that consistency within the community is key, particularly with logos, colors, styles, scrolls, bases and finials.

Most decorative traffic control parts are powder coated, and thus should have a lifespan of five to ten years. They do not need to be repainted occasionally, and signs also may need to be replaced over time due to wear. If a neighborhood has any DOT style (galvanized metal) street posts, it is highly recommended to upgrade to a decorative style post. The new look will quickly upgrade the appearance of the neighborhood.

Message boards are very popular right now with associations and self-managed neighborhoods. Slide in frames, cork board, white boards or any kind of sign that allows changeable copy is a great way to display information and keep the community up to date. An LED message board is another option which offers endless messages and can be controlled online. As always, a uniform look and feel to match other signs is encouraged and can easily be accomplished.

Regulatory signs range from identification to instructional, including “No Trespassing,” “No Fishing” or “No Parking.” This type of sign isn’t the most appealing visually, but important none the less. The keys are determining how many are necessary, where they are placed and keeping them maintained consistently.

It might be rare to hear a compliment about a community sign, but good-looking and well-maintained signs can be eye catching and make a statement about that neighborhood. It might be valuable to take some time and think about what the community signs are saying about your neighborhood or those that you manage, and bring it to the attention of the board of directors.