Beautiful Signs for a Better Planet

Installing ADA Signs like a Pro

Installing ADA Signs Like a Pro

Are you about to order new door signs for your offices and feel a little unsure about how to install them?

We here at Green Dot Sign® understand completely.  After putting time and money into ordering signage, installing signs crooked or in the wrong location is something no one wants.  We’ve put together this article series to make installing like a pro easy.  

Before reading further, please check out the downloads for our 4-peg install method instructions and foam tape install instructions.  This will help you understand exactly what we’re talking about. 

This graphic is accurate for well over 90% of the signs we hang, but please check our ADA guideline page and sign installation page for additional information.  These pages will teach you were to hang a sign if there’s no room on the wall next to it, no if you have double doors or the dreaded “hanging on a door” category that is far less allowed then most people realize.    Read on to learn how install them level and strong.

ADA Compliant Sign Mounting Height Guidelines

Tools for Installing ADA Signs Like a Pro

  • Cordless drill with 5/16” bit (for 4-peg method)
  • Low tack tape
  • Silicone or equivalent
  • Torpedo level
  • Tape measure
  • Installation pattern (for 4-peg method)
  • A written ADA-compliant location plan
  • Paper towels, trash receptacle and vacuum
  • Optional – Location jig (more on this later and only if you’re installing 10+ signs)

Cordless Drill with 5/16” Bit 

If you installing ADA signs via our eco-friendly 4-peg method you’ll need a drill.  Most hallways are short on outlets and once you get going, installing signs is pretty fast, so going cordless saves you lots of time and removes a tripping hazard.

Our pegs are 6mm in diameter (just under ¼”).  To account for human error and drilling angle we have found a 5/16” bit works great.  Our install kit includes a bit that works well for drywall or wood. Please note if you’re working with cement or specialty wall materials you’ll want the correct bit for the material you’re drilling into.   Test fit each sign into wall holes before applying silicone, or equivalent.  It’s common to need to wallow out one or two holes and if you do need to, go slow.  You can always take out more material with another pass.  

Last but not least, bring your charger and have a spare battery charging so you can get the job done right in a timely manner.  

Low Tack Tape

Lowly low tack tape is one of my favorite sign installation tools .  It comes in handy, and I do mean in how it’s that third hand you wish you had.  

For the 4-peg method you’ll use tape to hang the peg pattern on the wall before drilling.  For the foam tape install method, you can use it to draw exactly where the sign bottom should be before taping it up.  The foam tape can seem a bit tricky. The only mistake people sometimes make is placing the low tack tape too high up on the wall so when you remove the release liner from the foam tape and go to hang the sign, the foam tape hits the low tack tape, instead of the wall. Oops! If this happens, immediately pull the sign off the wall before pressing hard. Usually it will pop right off as adhesives get stronger with time and pressure. Just tear off the small strip at the top of the tape and reapply the sign.  

Low tack tape can also be adhered over plaster walls where you are going to drill to minimize cracking at the drill point.  I also apply some on the drill bit as a depth gauge so you don’t push into something in the wall and cause inadvertent damage.  Just put the bit against the sign back and apply the tape a skosh further back than the pegs. Another trick is to apply tape, put a level on it (laser levels work great) and then draw a level line where you are working with so you have a point of reference right where you need it.  

Last but not least, test the tape on the walls you’re working with before you get going.  We’re installing ADA signs, not removing paint, right?  Find an inconspicuous location and apply some tape with pressure, then wait a minute or two and remove the tape.  Inspect the back and look for traces of wall material on it. If there are traces of paint, etc., you need different tape or to wait until the paint cures.  Most paint manufacturers have a two week cure period. Alternately, you may find that the tape doesn’t adhere to the wall at all.  This either means the paint is really fresh, in which case you can usually see a thin chalky-milky layer on the tape, or you need higher tack tape. Many new paints are made to be easy to clean and hard to stick to, so cure time and tape selection is more of an issue now than it used to be.  

The painter’s tape included in our installation kit is mid tack strength.  

Silicone (Caulking Compound)

There may be some creative ways of installing ADA signs without silicone, but this is still the go-to material to bond interior signage.  We recommend using it in both of our endorsed installation methods.  

One tip is to not make the circle on the sign back too big.  Silicone can flow out of the sides when you press the sign against the wall. If this happens, don’t freak out, just use your fingers and paper towels to wipe the excess off.  If you bunch up paper towels and run along the edge applying medium pressure you can remove enough that it’s not visible.

We tested different options, including not using any silicone or adhesive at all. However, the best solution we could find is AFM safe coat Multi-Purpose Caulking Compound. As a distributor of this product, we can offer it with our installation kit at normal retail pricing.  It applies like a slightly-thicker silicone. It’s paintable, solvent-free, non-shrink, and meets many green standards including California Proposition 65 and LEED 2.2 Low Emitting Materials. It is also made in the USA. Good stuff.

Torpedo Level

A larger level or laser level are certainly helpful, but if you’re installing ADA signs like a pro you’ll want a torpedo level at the very least.  

Rather than checking if every sign is level, it’s wise to check out how plumb and level your building is first.  I recommend checking walls, doorways, floors and if possible the ceiling as well. Some are great, many are not.  

If your building is on the “not” side of things, put that level away and stick with a tape measure.  If your building is good, use the torpedo level for two things: 1) double-check signs, especially your first few, to be sure they are level and 2) check that jig is plumb and level before installing signs with it.  We’ll address the jig later.  

There are also times were hallways shift at one end, etc., so having a tool to help you understand what you’re seeing and make decisions accordingly is invaluable.

Tape Measure

You gotta measure things, right?  ‘Nuff said? No? OK, then.  

I recommend having the bottom of all signs be a uniform height in any given hallway, which is usually a breeze because signs in the same hallway tend to be the same size   You’ll also need to confirm ADA compliance in regards to height above grade and distance from doorway. In absence of a level you can measure wall height at two ends of a hallway to understand how much shifting you may have to be aware of.

 Installation Drill Pattern

Included with each four-peg sign is a pattern showing the outline of the sign and the four points where the pegs are located.  Line up the sign outline where the sign belongs, then tape securely to the wall. I recommend taping the top and bottom of the paper so that if it slips up on one end, the other will still be in place and you get busy installing your signage.

How to install an ADA door sign like a pro - typical sign back
4-peg Sign Back

 

Then drill through the paper into the wall at the four points.  Be sure you have the right type of drill bit for your wall and remember, the pegs are not very long. Exploring the inside of wall with a rapidly spinning piece of metal longer than is strictly necessary leads to problems.  You wouldn’t want your dentist to do it that way, right? Use tape or a collar to mark the needed drill depth.

How to install ADA door signs like a pro - drill depth gauge
Low Tack Tape Depth Gauge

 A Written ADA-Compliant Install Plan

What’s the best way to keep your pants up?  Belt AND suspenders. What’s the best way to royally mess-up and cause unforeseen installation issues?  Not having a thought out plan.  

Check out our ADA-Compliant Sign Guide for more information.  Also, know that it is 100% ADA-compliant to have each of your signs be at different heights provided they fall in the acceptable above-grade height range.  Maybe that fits your brand, but it drives me completely bonkers and does happen.

Prevent insanity –  take some time to look at your signs, then take some time to look at your wall.  I like to use my lowly low tack tape to mark the permitted height range and then walk up and down the hallway to see it from different angles and distances.  Pay attention to lighting, projections from the wall and any other decorative elements to select the optimum height. Maybe ask around your company to confirm nothing is planned for decor or other features in the space.  Process this information and convert it into one single distance above grade for the bottom of your signs before installing ADA signs.

If most of your signage is room numbering but there are few stragglers which aren’t, such as exit or stair signs, create a defined plan for each category of signs that you can then carry on throughout your facility.  Write it down. If you have ADA questions check our Guide and/or call your municipal building inspection department. Keep the written signage plan on file so that when you expand, you don’t have to go through this exciting exercise again, and can just print the plan and start installing ADA signs.   

Paper Towels, Trash Receptacle & Vacuum

You just finished installing ADA signs all through your hotel and it’s only 2pm.  They’re level, they’re uniform, they look awesome and you’re feeling proud.  Then your colleague walks up, eyeing the dust piles on the floor beneath each sign and says “Jeesh, you’d think they could’ve at least tried to clean up after themselves.” You keep your mouth shut, chagrined.  

Not going into this one too much as it’s pretty self-explanatory, but if you forget your trash receptacle and have the shop vac, you can always open up the top and throw trash in.  That’s my only pro sign installation tip on keeping it clean, besides to say, do a solid and don’t be that sign guy.  

Location Jig

Due to popular demand I’ll be making this a separate article with more robust information, but the jig is a handy tool, usually made with leftover boxes such as the one we shipped your signs in.  

There’s some upfront time investment and it only works for signs whose bottom and left side will all be in the exact same location relative to a doorway. I’d say if you have around ten or fewer signs, there is no time savings in making a jig.  (Although you can dance a jig anytime the spirit moves you!) If you have 10 or more signs that are all the same, make a jig.  

With some thoughtful measurements, a box cutter, and a square you can basically pre-measure each sign and make installing ADA signs like a pro FAST. The jig is like an “L” with a bottom that shoots all the way to the floor. The left part of the “L” rests against the door frame. The bottom of the “L” is your desired above-grade sign bottom height. The sign rest in the nook of the “L” shape.  And voila, you can get your per sign install time down to one or two minutes (including vacuuming). 

Decided Installing ADA Signs is Not For You and Want to Hire Someone?

Installing ADA signs is not for everyone.  Heck, I’ve employed people who you’d think could do this with their eyes closed based on their experience, but…nope!  If you want a professional to hang the signs and you ordered from us, we will always find qualified people in your area and we will be responsible for their product.  If you did not order signs from us and aren’t sure where to start I recommend looking at 3M certified vinyl installers or a PDAA certified installer.