Fonts: Letters can be created in almost any font. Wide fonts do cost significantly more. Selecting a condensed font can save you a lot on the price of the letters. Here are a few of the more condensed fonts:
Colors: Letters can be painted or non-painted. Typically, our letters are painted with a semi-gloss paint. This paint can be used outside. For special orders, we can also use automotive paints and even airbrushing. We can match specific colors using the Pantone codes.
Flat Bottoms: Some letters will not stand on their own, such as a "P" - it will fall over to the right. To work around this, we can cut the letters with flat bottoms. Another method is to use double-sided tape on the floor to hold the letters in place. They can also be attached to a pre-built base.
Long Letters: For lowercase letters with descenders ("g", "j", "p", "q", "y") we can build them by placing the other letters on a base so that everything aligns correctly. Another solution is to just go with all UPPERCASE letters.
Size of Letter: Height - Most of our stage letters are between 2' and 4' tall with 30"-36" being the most common height. Much of this is dependent on the stage and how far away the participants are sitting. Occasionally, we will recieve an order for letters being 5' and 6' tall - these are for very large stages. The word "FOLLOW" at 3' tall would equate to approximately 10' to 20' in length (based on the font). The same 4' letters would be about 13' to 28' in length (based on font). Pricing is greatly impacted by the size of the letters.
Width - This is an automatic calculation because the font dictates the width, based on the height of the letter. For example, on average Helvetica has a width to height ratio of 75%, but this varies from letter to letter - for example, if the letter is 4' tall, the width will automatcially be 3' fall (75%).
Depth - Generally, most 3' to 4' tall letters are 12" deep, which is a good depth to keep letters from falling over or being accidentally knocked over. Depending on the desired look, they could be anywhere from 6" to 36" deep. The depth of the letters also greatly impacts price.
Size/pricing - A 48" tall letter by 12" deep letter can be over twice as expensive as a 30" x 12" letter.
Coatings: Most of our letters are ordered without any smooth finish or without any special strength coatings. Occasionally an order will occur where someone wants a very smooth finish - this may be to accommodate the group signing their names on the front of the letters. Sometimes we will have special strength coatings applied, especially if the letters are to be used over and over.
Bases: Bases can be built in a lot of different ways, the least expensive is with foam, but very commonly we build them with MDF, making a very solid-looking base. It is also common to build them with an acrylic or polycarbonate base and then the letters are glued in place.
Process: After the dimensions and order specifications are finalized, our hot wire foam cutters start the process. Each letter is cut individually. We use 2 pound EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) which is common for foam letters. This means that a cubic foot of foam weighs two pounds. The letters are cut thick enough so that they will stand on their own or with the help of a base. Next comes the painting of the letters.
At this point we ship the letters (all of them are individually wrapped). One of the most surpising things to our customers is how they are shipped. The normal UPS and FedEx carriers won't ship these large items, so typically they are shipped via Motor Cargo. When shipping, remember that the larger the letter, the more expensive the shipping will be and it usually means that it will take a few days longer to arrive.