Beautiful Signs for a Better Planet


Exterior ADA Signs

Exterior ADA signs are an often overlooked aspect of sign system design. All too often, designers specify the same materials for both interior and exterior applications. This oversight leads to disastrous results, as typical interior ADA signs fail when exposed to exterior conditions.

Failures usually fall into at least one these four categories:

  1. Adhesive holding layers of plastic together delaminates
  2. Plastic integrity fails due to temperature swing and UV exposure
  3. Braille balls fall off due to temperature swings; many braille balls are held in pace through tension alone. Since plastic expands and contracts with temperature swings, braille are often either squeezed out in the cold or drop out in the heat
  4. UV exposure causes colors to fade and not meet contrast requirements of the American with Disabilities Act

The Exterior ADA Sign Solution

Green Dot Sign® is committed first and foremost to sustainable signage solutions. Rather then fossil fuel based plastics, we use infinitely recyclable metals for our exterior ADA signage. Each sign is 100% recyclable at end of life and during manufacture we capture and recycle all waste.

Exterior ADA sign solution

What are Green Dot Sign® Exterior ADA Signs Made From?

Instead of plastic, we machine solid aluminum, brass or bronze plates. Each sign is then painted, sanded to expose letters and pictograms in the natural metal, and lastly dressed with a top coat. All paints are automotive grade, two-part catalyzed paints with the longest possible exterior life. Fading will occur around 10 years, but usable life is much longer.

Where are Exterior ADA Signs Required?

Exterior ADA signage is required in two instances: First, if not all entrances are accessible, signage must direct toward the nearest accessible entrance; Second, exterior tactile signage is required if an exterior space is part of a structure. More on each below.

Exterior Tactile Signage

Every permanent room or space must be marked with a tactile ADA sign, but when are tactile signs needed outdoors? If an exterior space is part of a structure, such as a courtyard or shared rooftop patio, then exterior tactile signage must be placed at the doorways leading back inside the building. An exterior mounted tactile sign is not necessary for doors leading to parking lots, sidewalks, or similar outdoor areas.

The more a structure seeks to bring the outside in, the more savvy designers should note if exterior tactile ADA signage is required.

Green Dot Sign® offers two exterior tactile sign options: metal and cedar. Our machined metal tactile signs come with a lifetime warranty. Fully recyclable, metal exterior signage can be customized with any paint color, content, and your choice of brass, bronze or aluminum.

Our cedar exterior signage offers the aesthetics, weight, and biodegradability of cedar wood, and FSC® options are available. While this option does not currently include a warranty, our testing of this product line is currently on year 3 of continuous outdoor exposure (including dramatic fluctuations of Minnesota winters) without failure.

Exterior Accessible Entrance Signage

If not all entrances are accessible (as defined by the ADA), then signs directing toward the nearest accessible entrance are required. In addition, the accessible entrance(s) must be marked with the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA).

Signage that directs towards an accessible entrance does not need to be tactile. Because wayfinding signage is not directly identifying or describing a permanent room or space, non-tactile content is permissible.

It is best practice to place signs at every turn along the route to the accessible alternative, and at every 35’ to 50’ if no turns are required.

For most projects, our accessible entrance signage is produced with the same machined metal manufacturing method as our metal tactile signage. Simple aluminum signs with our non-toxic inks are also an excellent option we’re happy to provide.

For questions about whether or not a sign is required please visit our ADA sign requirements page.

Custom Exterior ADA Sign Options

•  Custom Paint Colors – let us know a PMS/RGB/Hex code, or any paint code from the large paint manufacturers

•  Custom Shapes – design with your interior décor in mind to enhance branding and aesthetics

•  Custom Content – any content desired or required: from arrows and pictograms, to logos and lettering

•  Mounting options – studs, VHB, cleats, through holes with decorative fastener heads and more are all easy alternatives that don’t break the bank

•  Exposed metal along more then just the face – be creative!

•  Matte or satin finish options are both compliant


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