The Fundamentals of Updating Community Signage

By Mary Harris

Your HOA Board has asked you to get quotes for “updating the signage” but no other instruction. Where do you go from here? What exactly
do they mean by “update?” Here is some basic information that will help you look like a knowledgeable rock star.

First and foremost, enlist the help of a professional sign person. This person needs to be someone that has experience in all types of signs, not just banners from a quick sign shop. If you do not have a good sign resource, ask your co-workers or companions in the management industry for referrals. On the first contact with the sign professional, do not hesitate to interview them as you would an assistant. Ask for years of experience and projects that they have worked on. Take a look at their website. This can save you from headaches in the future.

Once you have chosen your sign professional, provide them with a
budget. You do not want to waste your time or theirs, so knowing the budget is key. Now that a budget has been established, ask to do a walkthrough of the property with them. This allows you the opportunity to see what they see, affording you better insight into the sign needs of the community.
The common types of signs in a community are monuments, street signs, stop signs, building signs, pedestrian crossing, community information kiosks, miscellaneous pools signs, and clubhouse signs.

Of course, each community is unique and may have other types of signs. In this article, we’ll discuss a few of these.

Monument signs are typically at the entrance of the community and create the first impression of the neighborhood. Although a monument can last upwards of 30 years, it may look dated. This type of signage will typically use the bulk of your budget. An update to the monument sign can be as little as cleaning off dirt and graffiti all the way to full replacement. Monument signs are most often constructed of some form of masonry, such as brick or stone, and metal faces or individual letters and/or logos. Some less costly, and less permanent monument signs are merely constructed of posts and panels. Ways you can update a monument are panel and letter replacement, adding lighting (currently, solar is particularly popular), re-painting the lettering/panels, and of course full replacement.

If the community’s streets are privately owned and maintained,
the street signs will need to be evaluated. Are they faded, missing street names, leaning, or just plain ugly? The MUTCD (The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) requires the sign faces to be fabricated in high-intensity reflective material; are yours? In my opinion, although private communities are not required to comply with the MUTCD regulations, it is wise to do so. It could reduce the community’s liability in the event of an accident. From an aesthetics standpoint, replacing the typical u-channel post and aluminum blades with decorative posts and sign blades can really improve the look of the community as a whole.

Community information kiosks can be custom built to meet the specific needs of the neighborhood. They can be free-standing
structures or mounted to the outside of a building such as a
clubhouse. They can be as simple as a glass front box with a cork board interior for posting flyers about a missing kittycat, or as sophisticated as an electronic LED display that can be controlled by one of the Board members. You will need to have your sign professional check with your local governing entity and establish what types of kiosks are permitted in your area.
Regulatory signs, and more specifically, pool rule signs are extremely important to keep clean, readable, and up to date. These signs need to be legible from a distance. Pool rules can change yearly.

New legislation is the most common reason to review your sign annually. You will need to check with your insurance carrier as well to find out what verbiage they require on the sign. While we are on the subject of pool signage, you’ll need to make sure that the water depth markings surrounding the pool are
in good, readable shape and accurate, as well as any other markings,
such as “No Diving,” etc.

Those are just a few thoughts on community signage. Your sign
professional should be able to educate you and your Board on all of
your sign needs. I will leave you with one final piece of information:
Do not feel compelled to purchase all of your signs at the same
time if your community needs to spread out the expense over time.
The only difference in price should be additional trip charges and
possible increases in material and labor costs (which in most cases,
should be nominal).


Mary Harris, Managing Member of Architectural Signs, has been a professional in the sign industry for more than 30 years. Architectural Signs offers custom dimensional signage locally and nationwide. Contact Mary with questions at