Display and Signage Material Guide: Expanded PVC

Selecting the right material plays a critical role in the effectiveness and pricing of retail displays and signage. While you don’t have to be an expert on all the materials available, it helps to know the basic qualities—and the pros and cons— of using each material.

One of the display and signage materials available is expanded PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Is this the right material for your retail display or sign? Find out more about the material and its applications.

What is Expanded PVC?

Expanded PVC is a foam material (often confused with styrene) that comes in sheets, and it can be fabricated into a variety of shapes that make it ideal for diverse displays and signs. The interior of the material has a softer foam appearing structure, but its exterior is flat and smooth with a very light matte appearance.

There are a few brands of expanded PVC, including:

  • Komatex
  • Sintra
  • Celtech

While there are many gauges available, expanded PVC typically comes in 1mm, 2mm, 3mm, 6mm, and 12mm. It is also available in other thickness. The material can also be ordered in a wide variety of colors, with white and black being the more commonly used.

Why is Expanded PVC Used?

Sign and display manufacturers choose to use expanded PVC because it is easy to fabricate and shape. The material is also FDA compliant and suitable for many commercial and retail applications. Expanded PVC sheets are tough and fairly durable, especially considering they are so lightweight. This makes the material affordable to purchase as well as ship.

Expanded PVC is also highly resistant to moisture damage and corrosion from some chemicals. This makes the material ideal for a variety of settings and practical uses.

Its other benefits include:

  • Low Flammability: meets UL94 5V, UL 1975
  • Smooth matte surface that is ideal for graphics. The surface is great for screen prints and digital prints.
  • Thermal conductivity (acts as a good insulator)

Expanded PVC Applications

Expanded PVC can be a suitable material for many applications, including:

The Drawbacks of Expanded PVC

Although expanded PVC is affordable, easy to fabricate, and fairly durable, it is not the sturdiest material. If you are looking for more permanent fixtures, acrylic or high impact polystyrene may be better choices. Expanded PVC is ideal material for lightweight displays and signs that can easily be hung, or moved around the store at any time.


Thinking of using expanded PVC on your next project? Let us help you choose the right material and build a display or sign that’s perfect for you. Get in touch with our display specialists today.


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