Learn all about channel letters

What are Channel Letters?

Channel letters are free form containers with shapes that  mimic an image or letters or figures found in companies’ brands. There are a number of configurations for how they are illuminated but the most common type of channel letter is a cabinet or channel with metal back, metal retainers and a translucent acrylic face.

Channel Letter construction - Dual Illuminated Burke & Herbert

Channel Letter construction – Dual Illuminated Burke & Herbert

The face is held in place by a trim cap that not only serves a structural purpose but a visual one as well. If you were to remove the acrylic face you’ll see the LED wiring and threaded nuts, you may even see a transformer in a self-contained configuration though in most cases channel letters do not house their own transformer.

The channel is typically 5” thick in depth but there are other sizes available. Below we describe specific types of channel letters that deviate from the ‘standard’ to achieve a distinct looks.

Easter Seals – Great Eastern

Custom Manufactured Channel Letter Set with Illuminated Logo, Illuminated Under Canopy Sign Cabinet & Plexiglas Tenant Panels for the Pylon Sign.

Mobility City – Elkridge, MD

DMS Manufactured and Installed these custom Channel Letters on a Raceway for Mobility City in Elkridge, MD.

Fat Patties – Baltimore, MD

Custom made building signage and awning decals for Fat Patties Restaurant in Baltimore, MD

The Vitamin Shoppe – Frederick, Maryland

  Channel Letters for The Vitamin Shoppe in Frederick, MD

Handcrafted Large Format Illuminated Building Logo for Northrop Realty in Bethany Beach

This Illuminated Building Logo Sign showcases our handcrafting abilities. These are large format channel letters fabricated and installed for Northrop Realty in Bethany Beach Delaware. The meridian is almost 7’ and beyond the capacity of our routing tables. Therefore...

Bank of America Re-Branding 2020/2021 Multiple Locations around Washington DC area

YES! We have multiple full time install crews and we own multiple cranes and bucket trucks. Check out our portfolio and picture gallery to see the projects we have complete in many of the following industries: Automotive Banking Commercial Real Estate Construction...

RGB Illuminated Channel Letters Installed With Custom Bracket On High Rise Building In McLean VA

A high tech company requires a high tech sign. We design, fabricate and install Wholesale signs as well as our own projects. This is one of such products. We were hired to assist with this project and we enjoyed working on this sign that had a few important...

Red Channel Letters for Gentleman Jim’s Restaurant and Bar in Gaithersburg MD

Signs look amazing!  . . .  Thank you for your wonderful work! Very very happy with the final product.And we’re starting 2021 with a bang! We designed, manufactured and installed these red channel letters for Gentleman Jim’s a family owned and operated restaurant and...

Types of Channel Letters

Face/Front Lit Channel Letter

This is the most common style and it’s described in the “What are Channel Letters?” section above. They’re all metal except for the face which is translucent acrylic and the face lights up..

Halo/Back Lit Channel Letter

This type of channel letters has an opaque face and a clear acrylic back. The LEDs are mounted on the inside of the face so that they project the light toward the mounting surface (the wall). The surface may be the building or a signboard.

Channel Letter construction - Face and halo lit

Channel Letter construction – Face and halo lit

Halo and Face Lit (Dual) Channel Letter

This type of letter has a translucent face and a clear back, in addition it will have a middle intermediate plastic board holding the LEDs that illuminate the face and the back.

Pan Face Channel Letter

A pan face channel letter is a channel that has the face welded to the retainers (side wall of the letter) and the back is open except for clips welded at specific locations for the mounting studs. Pan face implies the letters are solid metal and the metal materials can be Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Brass or Titanium. The metal finishes can be mill, brushed and polished. Pan Face letters when illuminated are by default the Halo/Back lit type.

Channel Letter construction - Pan Face Halo Lit

Channel Letter construction – Pan Face Halo Lit

Open Face Channel Letter

Open face channel letters are most commonly used to house neon illumination. This is a classic and attractive look. The face is open as the name implies and the inside of the retainer wall is oftentimes painted a particular color for daytime visibility and/or to enhance the illumination at night.

Reverse Channel Letter

The term is a bit ambiguous but it’s used with enough frequency for us to list it here. Reverse channel letter is the same as Halo or backlit channel letter but some people may refer to open face letters with this term as well.

Request a free estimate

Types of Channel Letter Mounting

Flush Mount Individual Letters

The letters are stud mounted or screwed directly into the mounting surface. A push thru grommet and wire go inside the building for hooking up to a power source.

Raceway Mount

A raceway is an extrusion that serves to hold the channel letters in place and all the wiring and transformers are housed inside the raceway. Using a raceway simplifies the installation process and it causes the least amount of surface damage to the wall as less holes are drilled into the building facade. The raceway also serves the purpose of projecting the letters away from the building adding some extra depth to the overall look.

Channel Letter construction - Baseline Raceway Mounting

Channel Letter construction – Baseline Raceway Mounting

Bottom Mount

A bottom mount is used when the letters sit on top of an awning, shelf or wall and the only surface available is below the letters. In these cases the letter shape may be modified slightly for a more stable attachment.

Sloped Roof Mounting

Aren’t all roofs sloped tho’? not really, plenty of  buildings have flat roofs but I digress. When installing on any other surface not described above we may design our own brackets or frame to install the letters in the most elegant, visible and more importantly the safest way possible.

Channel Letter construction - Custom Bracket

Channel Letter construction – Custom Bracket

Custom Mounting

This option depends on what’s available and we can only figure it out after doing a site survey. We’re confident we can solve even the most challenging of scenarios. See examples below.

Channel Letter construction - Custom Curved Raceway

Channel Letter construction – Custom Curved Raceway

Types of Channel Letter Illumination

  • Fluorescent bulbs <- we oftentimes replace this with LED bulbs that plug right in the fluorescent bulb fitting.
  • White LED <- this is the default option nowadays.
  • Neon <- this oldie is making a comeback. We also offer alternative to LED that are more efficient and less expensive on the long run.
  • RGB LEDs <- the ones that can be any color. They can even play cool animated patterns.

Channel Letter construction - Open Face Neon Illumination

Channel Letter construction – Open Face Neon Illumination

Channel Letter Stroke Width Minimum

What is the minimum stroke width for channel letters? Our Minimum stroke width is 1.5”. Some wholesalers have a bigger/wider stroke width limit. This means they may not always be able to produce the channel letter you want. If you’re not sure, send us your artwork. We will be able to adjust it if necessary while retaining the look that makes your brand special.

Do you need help deciding which option is right for you? Fill the form below! We’ll guide you through.

What Businesses Buy Channel Letters?

Channel Letters for Automotive Businesses

We make and install channel letters  for many dealerships, auto maintenance facilities, auto parts retailers, mechanic shops and car washes.

Channel Letters for Banks 

There’s a national bank re-brand going on at all times. We pride in our ability to execute region-wide full-brand update for national banks such as Chase, Capital One, Bank of America, First United, BB&T, and more.

Channel Letters for Commercial Real Estate

We work extremely well with Commercial Real Estate Firms such as Long and Foster, BF Saul, Northrop Realty, Pettit Properties, etc.

Channel Letters for Construction Businesses

We work tightly with General Contractor to deliver turnkey products and to have them meet important deadlines. GCs have a lot of things to worry about. Signs and graphics is not one of them when they hire us to do the job.

Channel Letters for Businesses Headquarters

Headquarter offices are statement locations to display the professionalism and excellence that customers can expect from the product and services. We offer all type of high-end interior and exterior sign and graphics products so that headquarter offices can be the crown jewels of the company.

Channel Letters for Distributors Warehouses

When distributors reach out to us they expect us to make, install and service multiple locations in the region in an short amount of time and that exactly what we’ve done with the likes of Bray & Scarf and Amazon.

Channel Letters for Educational Buildings

Schools, Universities, Colleges and Training Facilities need channel letter that are install in high-rise buildings. We can install channel letters just about anywhere not matter how high.

Channel Letters for Government Institutions

Working with government institutions require a little extra experience and know-how. We have plenty of both so we work well designing, making and installing channel letters for government agencies.

Channel Letters for Grocery Stores

A grocery store is usually the biggest building at the shopping center. Their channel letters are also the biggest and brightest. We’ve had the pleasure of working with many local grocery chains such as Wegmans and 99 Ranch.

Channel Letters for Hardware Stores 

Hardware stores need big, bright and recognizable channel letters. You can often see them from far away. We have the capacity install large format channel letters for hardware stores such as Home Depot, Lowes and Ace Hardware Store.

Channel Letters for Healthcare Institutions

There seems to be an explosion of Physical Therapy and Care locations in our area. There’s also hospitals and Medical Building that need channel letters. Check out of recent posts to see some examples.

Channel Letters for Hospitality Businesses

Illuminated Channel letters that you can see from the highway are very important to the hospitality industry. We make, install and service channel letters for hotel chains such as Marriott, Best Western, Holiday Inn, Hilton, etc.

Channel Letters for Parking Garage Businesses

We all know the characteristic big “P” on a sign that tells us where to find public parking. Parking management companies need a lot of signs. Some of those signs are Channel Letters.

Channel Letters for Personal Care Businesses

Personal Care business are booming and we love installing signs for Massage, Nail, Hair, and Wellness Businesses.

Channel Letters for Places of Worship Buildings

How are you gonna find God if you don’t see the sign? We also help churches and worship places with their illuminate channel letter needs.

Channel Letters for Residential & Community Projects

We are including Residential and Community projects as potential customers for channel letters, buy we rarely make illuminated channel letters for them. They’re included here because we don’t want to leave anyone behind. If you arrived here looking for signs please do inquire about our offerings.

Channel Letters for Restaurant Businesses

Not to make any other businesses jealous but making and installing channel letters for restaurants is one of the most favorite places for our installers. Yes it is because we often times score a free meal. Check out our gallery to see examples.

Channel Letters for Retail Stores & Businesses

Think of your closest shopping mall or strip mall and all the illuminated channel letters you find there. We do’em all! Inquire below and we’ll give you a free price quote.

The process of buying channel letters

Removal of old channel letters

We can be contracted to remove an existing set of channel letters and along with this service you have the option to preserve the letters whenever possible for re-installation at a later time, perhaps on another location. When removing the letters from the building there’s always a stain left behind. It’s best to have the surface repainted. But even before that we recommend power washing the surface. We are able to help you with pressure washing and painting in most cases.


Installing channel letters is a construction job and an electrical job. It’s best to do a site survey to make sure the electrical hook up is in the right place or to suggest a location and to make sure the correct size crane, correct size sign and correct mounting options are utilized.


See the photo gallery for an extensive collection of jobs we’ve done. Our graphics department combines 50 years of experience designing all types of electrical signs including channel letters. If you have seen an illuminated sign you like you can send us that ‘inspiration’ piece and we’ll make sure to materialize your idea into a design proof. This process relies heavily on your input. It is an iterative process. We don’t stop until you’re happy, and only then we proceed with the steps below.


After a design proof is approved by you, the client, it’s time to submit a permit application. The process varies by county but we are well-versed on the different requirements each county has and we try to get your permit in the most expedited way possible.


We make everything in house in our manufacturing facilities in Mt. Airy MD. What does this mean to you? It means that we stand behind our products and in the unlikely scenario that something goes wrong we spring into action to make it right because we’re intimately familiar with every product that leaves our warehouse. We also beat the industry turnaround averages.


We have multiple full time install crews, several bucket trucks, a crane and we work at all times of the day or night and we also go far. While we do sub-out some of the nationwide work we have. Our install crews out of Mt. Airy are often on the road as far north as New Jersey and as far south as Norfolk, VA.

Installation of channel letters with 60ft bucket truck

Installation of channel letters with 60ft bucket truck


Do you offer electrical emergency service? Is a question we get a lot and the simple answer is: Yes…But it depends on availability. Call our installs department to inquire. We offer removal and disposal services. We offer survey services, Installation Services, Repair Services  and Maintenance Services

Sign Retrofit

Exterior channel letters take a beating from the elements and it’s no surprise that as they get older they may need a little TLC. We offer electrical service retrofitting where we either upgrade the fluorescent  light bulbs to LEDs bulbs that come ready to plug in fluorescent light fittings. Or we completely remove and replace the electrical system and install new LEDs in old signs. We are also able to repaint and reface signs that are no longer a good appearance for your business.

Channel Letter Permit Process Steps and Documents

See “Permits” in the section above.

“I love the permitting process” said no one ever. Well, perhaps our permit runner loves the process, who knows? It’s a bureaucratic process and the requirements vary wildly from county to county. It’s a good idea to have the following documentation ready. This is not an exhaustive list and you may not need all of these in all cases.

  • Design proof with construction and mounting details (We provide this)
  • Picture of structure with rendered proposed image.
  • Scaled Building Elevation and offset distance from key points.
  • Site with marked location of signs and offset distance from property line.
  • Building Occupancy certificate.
  • Customer Approval signature on design proof.
  • Landlord Approval Signature on design proof.
  • Permit Application Filled and Signed.
  • Application Fee Check (this is the county’s fee for processing the permit).
Request a custom price quote free of charge

Channel Letters Turnaround

How quick can we build channel letters? 15 Business Days on Average after permit approval. Rush jobs are possible with a fee. 

Channel Letters Pricing

The price varies too much based on too many variables. This is why most sign business are only able to provide a price quote based on your needs. There may be cookie cutter wholesalers out that leave you hanging after your buy their off-the-shelf product. We’re fortunately not like that. Fill out the form or give us a call. You won’t be disappointed!

Why buy channel letters from DMS Sign Connection?

  • We make everything in house.
  • We’re In the heart of the mid-atlantic region
  • No freight/shipping cost added
  • We install and service ourselves
  • We have hundreds of satisfied customers. Read Testimonials.

Below you find our most recent channel letter blog posts

Wholesale Channel Letters in Maryland

We offer turnkey wholesale solutions to sign business partners in our service area.

This means that your sign shop doesn’t have to worry about manufacturing, installation and warranty service. Just take care of the sales process and we’ll do the rest.

Our wholesale competitors such as Gemini, Sign Monkey, Direct Sign Wholesale, UFB and others in the south or west coast can’t compete with us because we won’t charge you freight fees and we will also install the signs for you. You may even come and check out the progress of your signs in our facilities in Mt Airy Maryland. We’re less than an hour driving distance from both Washington DC and Baltimore MD.

Request a Free Wholesale Channel Letter Quote by filling a contact form.

Handcrafted Large Format Illuminated Building Logo for Northrop Realty in Bethany Beach

Handcrafted Large Format Illuminated Building Logo for Northrop Realty in Bethany Beach

This Illuminated Building Logo Sign showcases our handcrafting abilities. These are large format channel letters fabricated and installed for Northrop Realty in Bethany Beach Delaware. The meridian is almost 7’ and beyond the capacity of our routing tables. Therefore...

Bank of America Re-Branding 2020/2021 Multiple Locations around Washington DC area

Bank of America Re-Branding 2020/2021 Multiple Locations around Washington DC area

YES! We have multiple full time install crews and we own multiple cranes and bucket trucks. Check out our portfolio and picture gallery to see the projects we have complete in many of the following industries: Automotive Banking Commercial Real Estate Construction...

DMS Sign Connection, Inc.

102 Lookout Ave
Mount Airy, MD 21771
(301) 831-7530

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