Large Format Substrates: 12 You Need to Know

Written by Large Format Printing

Choosing the perfect substrate is a critical decision that can affect many aspects of large format printing services, such as price, quality, and process. With thousands of popular substrates available on the market, narrowing them down is tough. We’ve compiled a list of the top 12 to make it a little easier.

Before choosing a substrate, consider these three factors:

Application – Take into consideration what kind of temperatures/environment the product will eventually be displayed in. For example, being outdoors risks UV exposure and moisture concerns.

Size – Take into consideration the viewing distance needed. For example, a 4-ft viewing distance versus a 50-ft viewing distance will require different scale.

Installation – Substrates’ physical properties all vary from each other which can impact installation of the finished product. For example, hard or soft, light or heavy material? Glue reactions and mounting hardware may affect the substrate as well.

Here is our list of the most popular substrates on the market for large-scale graphics, accompanied by their intended applications.

Top 12 Large Format Substrates:

1. White PVC

Made of a Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), this shouts durability. A plastic material that’s very resilient and high-grade would be perfect for any outdoor needs. Waterproof, weather resistant, and built to last, rest assured knowing this substrate will produce a high-quality image that will outlive others. Great for indoors as well.

2. Smooth Banner

Durable vinyl offers a long-lasting, smooth material, creating the perfect surface for outstanding image quality. Did we mention it’s also very affordable? High-quality banners are perfect for any large sign needs. Great for high schools, stores, windows, virtually anywhere. Placing in an optimal location, this creates a terrific marketing tool.

3. Removable Vinyl

One of the hottest sellers on the market, this vinyl material is clear and removable. It’s perfect for interior graphic applications. It can easily be removed without leaving damage or any mess on walls. Wood or painted walls are ideal placements.

4. Styrene

Made of strong PVC, while being very lightweight and thin. This is a budget friendly option for both indoor and outdoor signs. Examples of common uses include, billboards, trade show signs, bus advertising, and free-standing displays.

5. Foamcore

Also known as Foam Board. Extreme portability, lightweight, and a cheap option for a high-quality print. These are strong enough to mount on a wall and are not easily damaged. Excellent for school projects or company presentations. See for yourself why it’s one of our top rated substrates. Custom large-scale prints brings clients’ visions to life.

6. Acrylic

Looking for amazing luminance and depth? Printing directly on acrylic will give the outstanding quality clients crave. It’s a lot more versatile than glass, and makes for easy mounting or hanging. Perfect for photographs or light box applications.

7. Black PVC

Too dark? Think again! Top of the line white-ink technology poses no problem for Black PVC. Highlight is that it prevents light penetration. All of the great properties of the original white PVC are identical such as excellent durability, weather resistance, and amazing quality. Excellent for billboards and murals.

8. Falconboard

Made of a honeycomb core, this strong paper-based product is well-known for its superior print quality. Dimensional stability, breathtaking visuals, and budget friendly production are all some of its great features. Perfect for POP displays, kiosks, framing, mounting, and interior signs.

9. Coroplast

Ideal for indoor and outdoor use. Impressive waterproof properties can withstand tough weather. Made of a corrugated plastic polypropylene sheet, this lightweight, stain resistant, low-cost option makes for a very popular substrate. Immaculate for a variety of print applications.

10. Matte Scrim Banner

Banners are a hot commodity. Many clients want them since they’re portable, tear resistant, and able to withstand severe impacts. The matte surface enables faultless printing and brilliant color. Indoor and outdoor versatility. Great for use in public buildings such as airports, hotels, retail events, trade shows, or malls.

11. Dibond

Features an aluminum composite sheet with a polyethylene core and protective film on both sides. Super smooth, lightweight, long-lasting and sturdy for both indoor and outdoor applications. High corrosion resistance and UV protected. The rigid material is ideal for large signage applications, architectural signs, display and exhibition, digital & screen printing, photo mounting, and interior design.

12. Gatorboard


Much stronger than Foamcore (number 5), but has relatively the same weight. Polystyrene foam bonded between two layers of wood-fibre produces a rigid and stable product. Very easy to transport, water-resistant, and reusable. This is a top pick for versatility and durability.

It all comes down to pleasing the client in the end, envision their finished product and choose the substrate that will fit those needs.

Look no further than Printleaf for all of your large-scale printing needs. Our high-quality services and excellent customer service will turn your vision into a reality today.

Last modified: January 31, 2020

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