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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

DISCLAIMER
British Sign & Graphics Association (BSGA) Technical Guidelines and other published documents are
produced for advisory purposes to clarify official guidance, standards and legislation. They are published
in good faith but without liability and are not intended to be taken as definitive legal advice. All
documents are believed to be correct at the time of publication but the BSGA cannot accept any
responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action or placing any
reliance on these guidance notes and publications. If in doubt, specialist advice should always be
obtained. All copyright and any other intellectual property rights in these Technical Guidelines and other
publications are and shall be at all times vested in and belonging to or be under the control of the BSGA
and not be reproduced or retransmitted to third parties without the prior written consent of the BSGA.
1.

FULL TITLE

BRITISH STANDARD 559:2009


Specification for: Design construction of signs for publicity, decorative and general purposes.
2.

INTRODUCTION

A new edition of British Standard 559 was published in July 2009 to include recent developments in sign
design and construction and include some areas not previously included. There are a number of relevant
European standards which are mentioned in BS 559 and a list of the cross references is shown in Annex
B.
Note:

Several parts of EN 60598 are published in the UK as BS 4533, Parts 101 and 102.

It is not intended to provide guidance notes for the associated electrical standards in this Technical
Guideline. Full details are given in BSGA Technical guidelines:
K3.1
K7.1

'Guidance notes on EN 50107, The CENELEC Standard for high-voltage signs


'Guidance notes on BS 4533 (BS EN 60598), Luminaires

However, it will be noticed in Annex B that the list of electrical requirements in BS 559 includes a
complete loop. BS 559 requires that electrical installation of the mains supply conforms to BS 7671 (the
IEE Wiring Regulations). BS 7671, Regulation 554-02-01 requires that all high-voltage lighting
installations conform to BS 559. This need not concern us too much. It merely means that which ever
way one approaches the subject of electrical safety in signs, BS 559 is the core document (see also
comments on the Low Voltage Directive below).

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Each section of this Guideline is in two parts:

The first part gives the essential wording of the particular clause of the Standard.

Immediately following each clause is a guidance note (in italics) which explains the meaning of the
clause and the steps needed for compliance.

The meaning of several clauses is self-evident and no guidance should be required. Only those clauses
that may present some difficulty are considered.
Note: The wording in the first part of each section of this Guideline summarises the actual wording in the
Standard. Members are strongly advised to obtain copies of the Standard to obtain the precise wording.
Copies may be obtained from:
Customer service
British Standards Institute
389 Chiswick High Road
London W4 4AL
Tel:
0208 996 9001
Fax: 0208 996 7001
E-mail: orders@bsigroup.com
3.

THE LOW VOLTAGE DIRECTIVE

All signs and sign installations have to conform to the EU Low Voltage Directive (LVD).
requirements for compliance are described in BSGA Technical Guideline:

The

K10.3 A guide to the Low Voltage Directive


An essential part of the procedure necessary to conform to the LVD is compliance with the requirements
of relevant harmonised standards. In this respect, BS 559 may be considered as the core document for
UK sign makers since it is cross-referenced to all the appropriate electrical safety standards.

4.

REQUIREMENTS OF BRITISH STANDARD 559:2009

1
Scope
British Standard 559 specifies requirements for the design, construction and installation for all signs and
sign installations, illuminated and non-illuminated, fixed or portable. The only signs not covered by the
Standard are road traffic signs (specified in BS 8442 and BS EN 12899), safety signs and fire safety
signs (specified in BS 5499).
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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Guidance on the use of vinyl is included as an Annex.


Although it may seem fairly obvious, it is worth mentioning that this Standard applies to most signs that
are made by BSGA members. These include non-illuminated signs, signs illuminated by fluorescent
lamps and/or LEDs, and neon signs. It also applies to cold-cathode tube installations, whether these are
for example outline tubing on a building or a lighting installation.
4
Service life
The service life of the sign will usually be agreed between the customer and the sign manufacturer or,
where it is not specified by either party, the service life will be assumed to be ten years.
It is necessary to specify life of components in various parts of the Standard but it is recognised that
some signs need to be designed to have a longer life than others. Some customers may need to
purchase signs which have an inherently limited life and, whilst those signs need to conform to other
parts of this Standard, it would be silly to use materials which have, say, a ten-year life. This clause
makes it clear that the customers requirements are the most important. Only if these are not specified
will a ten-year life apply.
5.

SIGN MATERIALS

5.1

General
Materials used in the construction of a sign shall meet the minimum requirements of the service
life of the sign.
The materials of construction shall conform to BS 476-7 for surface spread of flame.
This is a more general statement than previously. It is not as prescriptive as the previous
wording allowing the sign maker greater freedom of choice. However, subsequent paragraphs
reinforce specific items relating to specific materials. The requirement for conformance to BS
476-7 for surface spread of flame is also specified here and more detail given regarding
materials for use on signs in petrol filling stations. For wood, the requirement for surface spread
of flame to be not worse than Class 3 of BS 476, Part 7 is not particularly arduous, and most
hardwoods that are used out of doors will meet this criterion. However, sign makers should
ensure that resins used, for example, to bond plywood or where thick coats of paint have been
applied, the result does not mean that the flame can propagate freely over the material.

5.2

Metals
5.2.1 It is stressed that corrosion of the sign should not adversely affect the structural
integrity, and all surfaces and edges should remain corrosion free for the service life of
the sign.
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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

5.2.2

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Metals intended for external use should be either inherently corrosion-resistant for the
service life of the sign (e.g. stainless steel); or protected against corrosion for the
service life of the sign. All metals, other than those that are inherently corrosion
resistant, should be further protected in accordance with 6.2.4.
Again, this is a fairly obvious clause. Superior grades of stainless steel may be used on
signs without further protection. However, there are low-grade stainless steels that may
not withstand the most arduous climatic conditions. The advice of the supplier should
always be obtained before deciding on the degree of painting or other protection.
Although the Standard mentions aluminium as a metal that may be used without further
protection, sign makers should be wary about taking this too literally. Although the
surface rapidly oxidises with a transparent film, this film can be porous, allowing further
penetration of water. If the natural colour of aluminium is required, an anodic coating of
the appropriate thickness should be applied (see 6.13.4). The same applies to bronze
and other non-ferrous metals. These will tarnish rapidly unless protected by a coating of
a suitable clear lacquer.
There may also be a requirement for materials, such as copper, to be left unprotected
so that their appearance may be enhanced by natural corrosion (e.g. verdigris). The
weather protection of signs made in this manner is not specified in BS 559.

5.2.3

To avoid galvanic corrosion, metals with a wide difference in electrochemical potential


(e.g. copper and aluminium) should not be used in direct contact with each other.
All metals have an inherent electrical potential, and the value of this potential may be
found in any book of physical constants (eg. Kaye & Laby). If there is a significant
difference in potential between two metals which are in close contacts, this potential
difference will drive an electric current between them. The current will carry material
from one to the other, and this means that material will be lost from one metal and salts
will build up on the other metal. This results in rapid corrosion and metal failure.
A good example is aluminium and copper. The values of electro-potential are
expressed in rather complex terms but, basically, aluminium has a potential of 1.75 V
and the voltage of copper ranges between +0.04 V and about 0.24 V. Thus, there is at
least 1.5 V available to drive a current and cause corrosion. This is why it is not a good
idea to fix aluminium sheets together using copper rivets! The effect is increased if the
metals are dirty and wet. If they are needed to be close together, there should be
adequate insulation between the two metals not merely a film of paint.

5.3

Wood and wood laminates


Wood, wood laminates and fibreboard used to make signs should be protected in accordance
with the recommendations of BS 8417.
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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Wood used out of doors should be suitable for an outdoor environment and the advice of the
supplier should always be obtained. More information may be obtained from BSGA Technical
Guideline:
D3.1

Wood and wood laminates

It should be noted that BS 8417 specifies materials that may be applied to protect the wood
against degradation by wood-destroying organisms (as described in 5.2 of Guideline D1.3). It
does not cover paints and varnishes that are, additionally, used to decorate the wood surface.
These are described in Guideline D1.3, section 5.3 onwards.
5.4

Plastics materials
Plastics used in the construction of signs shall retain their physical properties for the service life
of the sign. No adverse effects from use or maintenance.
Instead of specifying high-grade plastics materials for all installations, BS 559 has related their
performance to the required service life (see 4). There are very good plastics materials which
would last over ten years in an outdoor environment, but these would be unnecessarily
expensive if the sign was mounted indoors and expected to last for merely one year. Types of
rigid plastics materials and their performance are discussed in BSGA Technical Guideline:
D1.2(a) Rigid plastics materials
A customer will require the plastics materials not to deteriorate too much during the life of the
sign. Sign makers should ensure that strength and optical properties are certified by the supplier
for the expected service life of the chosen plastics materials. Care should be taken with cleaning
and maintenance procedures as some cleaners can cause loss of structural integrity of plastics
through stress corrosion cracking. E.g. polycarbonate and some surfactants in cleaners.

5.5

Glass
Glass panels used for signs should be made from safety glass. The general physical and
mechanical properties of glass used for sign panels should conform to BS 6206.
BS 6206 is a code of practice for the glazing of buildings. The recommendations contained in
that code of practice should be followed. Also note that the Building Regulations may apply.

5.6

Aluminium composite material (ACM)


ACM shall be finished in the same way as pre-coated aluminium in accordance with BS EN 1396

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

6.

SIGNS DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

6.1

General
6.1.1 Signs which are to be used out of doors, or subject to wind pressure, should conform to
6.2.1, the requirements for resistance to wind pressure. All signs shall conform to the
remaining sections of 6.2 and 6.3 to 6.13, inclusive regarding their structure.
6.1.2

Any dimensions specified for materials such as glass, plastics, wood and metal will be
the nominal dimensions on which normal commercial tolerances are permitted.
The structural design of signs will take into account the mass of the sign and the
strength of the building on which it is mounted or the stability of the ground required to
support it. However, the most important factor will be the effect of wind pressure and
this is calculated from BS EN 1991-1-4.

6.2

Structure
6.2.1 Resistance to wind pressures
The sign should be designed to withstand the wind pressures prevailing at the
installation site as calculated using BS EN 1991-1-4.
Methods for calculating wind pressures on signs are given in BS EN 1991-1-4.
Examples of how those calculations may be used are given in BSGA Technical
Guideline:
K13.1 A guide to British standard BS EN 1991-1-4
6.2.2

Foundations for fixed free standing signs


Specified in BS 8004. Foundation bearing pressure shall either be specified,
determined by soil investigation, or the presumed allowable value given in BS 8004.
Factored loading shall be used for concrete foundations.
Holding-down bolts shall be designed taking into account factored loading and shall be
anchored into the foundation by suitable means.
Base plates shall either be tightened down to the foundation or shall be grouted
beneath.
Foundations is a new section in this latest edition of the standard. It is vital for safety
and a number of criteria are specified.

6.2.3

Thickness of components
The minimum thickness of components should be either:
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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

a) that required to withstand the wind pressures in accordance with 6.2.1; or


b) as specified in the relevant parts of 6.5 to 6.10.
See guidance comments above
6.2.4

Protection against corrosion


The sign shall be design to resist the harmful aesthetic and structural effects of
corrosion.
For steel supports, protection is specified in BS EN 1090-2:2008 Annex E.
For steel substrates, appropriate paint, primer or zinc plating is required, along with
prevention of galvanic corrosion.
Galvanising shall be to BS EN ISO 1461.
Buried aluminium shall be protected with material such as tar, or similar.
External signs shall have suitable arrangements to prevent accumulation of water, dirt
and debris.
Coil coated aluminium shall conform to BS EN 1396.
Different materials require different techniques for corrosion prevention. These are
specified in BS or EN documents where possible.

6.2.5

Protection from damage by birds and rodents


Appropriate measures should be taken to prevent birds and rodents fouling signs and
creating a public nuisance where necessary.
Spikes, wires, across horizontal surfaces, devices such as model predators, and
avoidance of horizontal surfaces in the installation should be considered.

6.2.6

Thermal expansion and contraction


Where materials with different values of linear thermal expansion are used together in a
sign, the design should allow for movement between the materials to ensure that:
a) gaps do not occur between adjacent panels at the minimum anticipated temperature
(see 6.4.1);
b) there is room within the sign frame to allow for the maximum expansion at the
highest temperature within the sign or the surface of the face panel (see 6.4.2).

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

One of the more difficult problems facing a sign designer is to allow for the differences in
expansion and contraction between, say, an acrylic sign face panel and the aluminium
box into which that panel is mounted. This is a particularly difficult problem for long
fascia boxes.
The requirements are discussed in BSGA Technical Guideline:
C2.5(b) Structural design of plastic panels
6.2.7

Joints in signs
Joints shall meet the customers requirements during the service life of the sign.
Welded, brazed or soldered joints shall be carried out as recommended by the suppliers
of the systems used.
This clause is self evident and needs no explanation. Advice on welding is contained in
BSGA Technical Guidelines:
D2.3(a) Welding of metals
D2.3(b) Welding of Plastics

6.2.8

Mechanical properties
If structural components are made from materials that deteriorate over the life of the
sign, the designer should obtain details of the deterioration of mechanical properties
through life from the supplier(s). The minimum value of the mechanical properties
occurring during the service life and the minimum and maximum temperatures specified
in 6.4.1 and 6.4.2, respectively, should be used in the design calculations for wind
pressure.
Structural plastics shall be UV stabilised or otherwise protected from UV degradation.
The sign maker is faced with many new plastics materials, some of which are
accompanied by exaggerated claims concerning their properties and life. The strength
of a sign depends not only on the initial strength of the materials used in its construction
but also on how the properties of those materials deteriorate during life. A sign that
collapses or a panel that falls apart can have disastrous results. Particularly when using
new and untried plastics materials, the sign maker should obtain (in writing) details of
the material properties and how those properties will change during life and over the
expected ambient temperature range expected at the sign site. Some plastics materials
become excessively brittle at very low temperatures. Others deteriorate rapidly due to
the effects of sunlight and U V radiation.

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

6.2.9

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Adhesives
If adhesives are used to join sign components which are essential to the structural
integrity of the sign, the design shall obtain from the adhesive supplier written evidence
of a satisfactory performance over the service life of the sign at the minimum and
maximum temperatures specified in 6.4.1 and 6.4.2, respectively, the wind load
associated with the sign and the structural loading of the sign. The minimum value of
bond strength occurring over the specified temperature range should be used in the
design calculations for wind pressure as specified in 6.2.1.
It is noted that the correct adhesive must be selected and used as specified, taking
particular note of the preparation of the surfaces to be bonded.
As with properties of plastics materials, it is essential that the sign maker obtains written
confirmation listing how the strength of adhesive joints will vary over the service life of
the sign and, perhaps more importantly, over the expected ambient temperature range.
It is also essential that adhesives are applied in accordance with the manufacturers
instructions. Application of adhesives is fraught with pitfalls and it is no bad thing to
invite technical experts from the adhesive supplier to visit the company and give their
approval of the application process.

6.2.10 Support of face panels


Face panels of rigid plastics materials should be supported around their edges and, if
necessary, additional means such as anti-deflection props should be used to ensure
that the deflection of the panel at any point does not exceed 5 times the thickness of the
panel when subjected to the wind pressure and suction forces calculated in accordance
with 6.2.1. Spacing between anti-deflection props should not exceed 1000 mm.
Methods of calculating deflection of plastic panels are given in BSGA Technical
Guideline:
C2.5(b) Structural design of plastic panels
6.3

Protection against ingress of dust and water


6.3.1 The minimum level of protection of unprotected electrical equipment in and external sign
shall be IP23.
6.3.2

External sign enclosures shall either be IPX5, or IPX3 and have appropriate drain holes
of at least 5 mm diameter.
The minimum weatherproofing requirement for electrical equipment in signs installed
outdoors should be IP 23. The enclosure should either be sealed to IPX5, or IPX3 (proof
against the effects of driving rain) and fitted with drain holes. This does not mean that
rain cannot enter the sign (that is why drain holes are also specified) but water should
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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

not cause a hazard or effect the correct operation of the sign. In practice, this means
that water that does enter the sign should be kept away from electrical components. It
has to be assumed that water will drip from any convenient point within the sign
(remember that condensation must also be considered). Control gear should not be
mounted along, say, the bottom return of a box sign, and it may be necessary to fit roofs
over vulnerable pieces of electrical equipment.
If drain holes are not provided, the sign enclosure must be proof against a jet of water
from a hose (IP X5). This is difficult to achieve and, except in special circumstances,
drain holes plus a rating of IP X3 should be used.
6.4

Heating of components
6.4.1 The minimum temperature shall either be agreed with the purchaser, or -20 Deg. C. for
external signs and 0 Deg. C. for internal signs.
6.4.2

The maximum temperature reached by components and materials used in the


construction of signs should not exceed the rated maximum temperature for those
components and materials. Ventilation shall be provided if needed.
The design of signs to ensure that they or their internal components do no overheat is
an important consideration. Detailed guidance notes are included with sub-clauses
6.4.3 to 6.4.5.

6.4.3

The temperature of the air within the enclosure housing electrical components should be
so designed that the temperature:
a) Does not exceed the Ta rating of the electrical component; or
b) The maximum ambient temperature specified by the supplier of the electrical
component; or
c) Where no information on the temperature rating of the component is available, 50
degrees C.
When designing a sign enclosure, it is essential that the ambient temperature of the air
within that enclosure does not exceed that specified for the various internal components.
The more vulnerable components should be marked with a value of the maximum
ambient temperature (Ta). For chokes or power-factor correction capacitors, this might
be as high as 70 degrees C. Electronic ballasts may require to be installed in a cooler
environment, and this should be marked on its case. If there are no markings or if the
sign designer is unsure of the requirements, a value of 50oC should be assumed.

6.4.4

Through flow ventilation shall be provided where heat generating electrical components
are installed in a cupboard or similar enclosed situations. This shall include:PAGE 10

Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

a) Air inlet holes and outlet holes or slots below and above the heat generating
components. Minimum 25 cm2 per component of 200 VA and above, and minimum
15 cm2 per component less than 200 VA.
b) The number of transformers mounted one above the other shall not exceed four.
c) Components vulnerable to the effects of heat shall be mounted below the heat
generating components.
The paragraphs in the previous edition of BS 559 have been replaced with a more
practical approach.
Care should be taken to ensure retention of the IP rating. Most sign makers have been
faced with the requirement to install transformers within cupboards or other confined
spaces. This occurs most often with high-voltage lighting installations but can occur
with signs. Unless such enclosures are properly ventilated, the internal temperatures
can rise alarmingly. Vertical through-flow ventilation is now a requirement for enclosures
containing heat generating components. The above clauses provide guidance on
avoiding overheating and should be carefully followed. The cross-sectional area of air
inlet and outlet holes is of particular importance, as is the need to mount vulnerable
components such as power-factor correction capacitors below heat producing items.
Further information on the ventilation of enclosures for control gear is given in BSGA
Technical Guideline:
C2.7
6.4.5

Cold-cathode lighting design

Materials used in the construction of signs and which could be ignited, deformed or
decomposed by heat should be protected from heated parts of the installation by
spacing such heated parts from the surface of the material by a minimum of 30 mm.

NOTE An example of a heated part is a tube electrode, where the outer surface of the glass
tubing around the electrode can reach a temperature of 150oC.
It is of particular importance to ensure that components such as electrode sleeves,
which are installed in close proximity to electrodes, are made from materials that will
withstand the temperatures existing on the wall of the glass tubing surrounding the
electrode. Electrode sleeves inhibit cooling by local air flow and the resulting wall
temperature may well exceed 150 degrees C. This is why Clause 13 of EN 50107
requires plastic electrode sleeves to be able to withstand temperatures up to 180
degrees C.

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

6.5

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Flat letters and devices


6.5.1 General
Steel, aluminium, plastics materials or wood, wood laminates or fibreboard may be used
for the manufacture of illuminated or non-illuminated flat letters. See 6.5.2, 6.5.3, 6.5.4
and 6.5.5 for the individual requirements.
The following clauses apply to flat cut-out letters that, unless otherwise stated, have no
means of stiffening other than their fixings to a mounting surface. The thickness of the
various materials has been specified to ensure that the letters do not buckle under
normal stress.
Remember that the values specified in 6.5.2 to 6.5.5 are minimum values necessary for
stiffness. Calculations for wind pressure (see 6.2.1) may mean that thicker materials are
required
6.5.2

Steel
Steel used for the manufacture of flat letters or devices should have a thickness of not
less than 0.9 mm. It should be stiffened by reinforcement or fixings spaced not more
than 600 mm apart if either the width or the height exceeds 600 mm.
Regardless of the type of letter or its stroke width, it is specified that once the letter
height exceeds 600 mm, extra stiffening or an increased number of supports should be
used.

6.5.3

Aluminium
Aluminium used for the manufacture of flat letters or devices should have a thickness of
not less than 2.0 mm. It should be stiffened by reinforcement or fixings spaced not more
than 600 mm apart if either the width or the height exceeds 600 mm.
The same requirements for extra supports for larger letters also apply to aluminium.
Because aluminium is softer than steel, the minimum thickness for flat cut-out letters is
specified at 2.0 mm.

6.5.4 Plastics materials


Acrylic sheet (or similar plastics materials) used for the manufacture of flat letters or
devices should have a thickness of not less than:
a) 3 mm if the height of the letter or device is 600 mm or less;
b) 5 mm if the height of the letter or device is more than 600 mm but not more than
1000 mm;
c) 6 mm if the height of the letter or device is more than 1000 mm.

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

It should be stiffened by reinforcement or fixings spaced not more than 600 mm apart if
either the width or the height exceeds 600 mm.
Plastic letters need to be quite thick if they are to remain flat when installed. The
recommendations given above should be followed.
6.5.5

Wood, wood laminates and fibreboard


Wood, wood laminates or fibreboard used for the manufacture of flat letters or devices
should have a thickness of not less than:
a) 20 mm if the height of the letter or device is 1000 mm or less;
b) 25 mm if the height of the letter or device is more than 1000 mm but not more than
1500 mm; or
c) 30 mm if the height of the letter or device is more than 1500 mm but not more that
2000 mm.
If the height of flat letters or devices manufactured from wood, wood laminates or
fibreboard exceeds 2000 mm, the material should have a thickness of not less than 25
mm and should be stiffened by reinforcement of fixings spaced not more than 600 mm
apart.
This clause is self explanatory and no guidance is necessary.

6.6

Fabricated letters
6.6.1 If fabricated letters or devices are manufactured from metal and have a channel or Hsection they should have a minimum thickness of metal and a minimum depth of returns
as specified in Table 2.
Table 2 Minimum sheet thickness and depth of return for metallic letters formed in channel or Hsection
Height or width (whichever is the
greater) of the letter or device (mm)

Minimum depth
return (mm)

Less than 230

Min. sheet thickness


(mm)
Steel
Other
metal
0.55
0.90

Over 230 up to and including 600

0.55

0.90

25

Over 600 up to and including 1.2m

0.70

1.50

38

Over 1.2m up to and including 2m

0.90

1.50

50

of

Not specified

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

This table is most likely to apply to open-trough letters, either with the trough facing
forward or backward in the case of halo letters. For illuminated letters, the minimum
depth of return may well be determined by the need to accommodate the tubing, and
may be greater than specified here. The values are self explanatory.
6.6.2

If fabricated letters are manufactured from plastics materials and have a channel or Hsection, they should have a minimum sheet thickness and a minimum depth of returns
as specified in Table 3.

Table 3 Minimum sheet thickness and depth of return for letters of plastics materials and formed
in channel or H-section.
Height or width (whichever is the greater) of
the letter or device (mm)
Less than 230

Min.
sheet
thickness (mm)
3

Min. depth
return (mm)
Not specified

Over 230 and up to 600

25

Over 600 and up to 1.2m

38

Over 1.2m and up to 2.0m

50

of

Again, these values are self explanatory. They are minimum values and should be
increased if neon tubing is installed within the letters.
6.6.3

If fabricated letters or devices have heights exceeding 2000 mm, they should be
stiffened by reinforcement or fixings spaced not more than 600 mm apart.
Large letters may require additional stiffening. Fixing to a flat wall (provided the fixing
centres do not exceed 600 mm) would ensure that the letter is stable. If they are
mounted on an open structure, additional steelwork may be needed to ensure stability.
Letters of this size will be vulnerable to wind pressure and the relevant requirements
must be considered (see 6.2.1).

6.7

Face panels of rigid plastics materials


6.7.1 Rigid plastics materials used for the manufacture of flat or moulded face panels should
have a thickness of not less than:
a) 3 mm if the minimum dimension (height or width) of the panel is 600 mm or less;
b) 5 mm if the minimum dimension (height or width) of the panel is more than 600 mm
but not more than 1000 mm;
c) 6 mm if the minimum dimension (height or width) of the panel is more than 1000 mm
but not more than 1200 mm;
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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

d) If the minimum dimension (height or width) is greater than 1200 mm, the
recommendations of the supplier of the plastics materials should be followed.
NOTE 1

Face panels may be part of a box sign and carry the sign legend or be face panels
of, for example, individual letters.

NOTE 2

If the minimum dimensions (height or width) of a face panel is greater than 1200
mm, the necessary thickness of the panel will depend on the effectiveness of stays
and supports. Advice of the supplier of the plastics materials should be obtained.

These are minimum values and may have to be increased for signs installed in areas subject to
high winds. Further guidance on rigid plastic panels is given in BSGA Technical Guideline:
C2.5(b) Structural design of plastic panels
6.7.2

If a face panel consists of two or more overlaid sheets of plastics in close contact with
each other, means should be employed to prevent the entry between them of dust and
moisture. The effectiveness of the sealing should be in accordance with IP 65.
It is sometimes necessary to protect a design that is screened, say, onto the face of an
acrylic sheet by fixing another clear sheet to the front face. Unfortunately, water may
get between the sheets and carry dirt onto the design. If this happens, the dirt is
unsightly and may be difficult to remove. For this reason, BS 559 requires that the
edges of such duplex sheets be properly sealed to IP 65. First numeral '6' means that
the edges are dust tight, and second numeral '5' means that the sealing is jet proof, ie. it
is proof against a hose. It is not difficult to seal around the edges of a duplex panel
using waterproof adhesive tape.

6.8

Face panels of flexible plastics materials


6.8.1 Frames and with tensioning devices, as specified by the suppliers of the materials,
should be used for the installation of face panels of flexible plastics materials.
Suppliers of flexible plastics materials provide detailed notes on suitable tensioning
systems. These should always be followed unless the sign maker has developed his
own systems. Guidance on the design, choice and application of flexible plastics
materials is given in BSGA Technical Guidelines:
C2.5(b) Structural design of plastics panels
D1.2(b) Plastics materials, types and sources of information, part (b) - flexible plastics
materials

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Published
Review Date

6.8.2

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Painting, heat-transfer inks or the application of other self-adhesive flexible plastics


materials which are compatible with the base material may be used for the decoration of
the faces of flexible plastics materials. Application should be carried out in accordance
with the recommendations of the supplier of those materials.
Further information can be obtained from the BSGA Technical Guidelines listed in 6.8.1.

6.9

Glass panels
6.9.1 The types, thickness and methods of supporting glass panels should conform to the
recommendations given in BS 6262.
BS 6262 gives full information on the choice of glass panels for various applications and
methods of supporting glass panels. No further information is given here. However,
sign makers should consider the requirements of BS 6399 for glass panels installed
outdoors.

6.10 Backing panels


6.10.1 If backing panels used for supporting signs are not installed within a box or similar
protective arrangement, they should conform to the following.
a) Panels of metal or metal/plastics laminates should have a thickness of not less than:
i. 0.9 mm if manufactured from steel;
ii. 2.0 mm if manufactured from aluminium;
iii. 3.0 mm if manufactured from a metal/plastics laminate.
b) Panels of metal or metal/plastics laminates shall be stiffened by reinforcement or
fixings spaced not more than 600 mm apart if either the width or height exceeds 600
mm.
c) Panels of plastics materials should:
i. have a minimum thickness of not less than 5 mm; and
ii. be stiffened by reinforcement or fixings spaced not more than 600 mm apart.
d) Panels of wood, wood laminates or fibreboard should:
i. have a thickness of not less than 20 mm if either dimension (horizontal or
vertical) is 300 mm or greater;
ii. have a thickness of not less than 16 mm if either dimension (horizontal or
vertical) is less than 300 mm.
These values for backing panels should be followed. All the information necessary to
produce adequately strong panels is given in the Standard and no further guidance is
necessary.
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Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

6.10.2 If a panel used as the means of backing in a fascia box or a similar sign enclosure has
support around at least 80 % of its edges, the panel should have a minimum thickness
of 0.5 mm provided the maximum unsupported area is not greater than 1.5 m2.
Provided a backing panel in a box sign is properly supported, say, by fitting it into slots
and grooves in the box extrusions, it can be made from quite thin materials. Thin white
rigid PVC is a popular choice, since this saves painting. The back panel of a box sign
should be coloured white since this provides better reflection of the light than bright
aluminium.
6.11 Sign Constructions; Fixings
6.11.1 Metal used for fixings should conform to 5.2.
This means that fixings should be made from non-rusting materials.
6.11.2 Plastics materials used for fixings should conform to 5.4.
Plastic materials can be used for supporting light sign components. A typical example
would be small individual letters supported on plastic locators. This clause means that
the plastics materials should be suitable for an outdoor environment. The
recommendations of the supplier should be obtained.
6.11.3 Lock washers or thread-locking devices should be provided with screws, other than selftapping or thread-forming screws, used for the assembly of a sign
This clause is self evident. All signs are subject to vibration and screws should be
properly locked.
6.12 Means of attachment
6.12.1 At least two means of attachment should be provided for suspended signs or luminaires
having a flexible means of suspension. The two means of attachment should operate
independently of each other and should be designed such that should one fail, the
strength of the remaining means of attachment ensures that the sign or luminaire
remains suspended.
Again, this clause is self evident. Remember that the means of suspension for signs
installed outdoors needs to withstand wind pressure as well as the weight of the sign.
Any calculations must assume that one of the suspensions has broken and the load has
to be taken by those remaining.
6.12.2 The hooks for a suspended sign or luminaire should be fitted with safety bolts or other
means of locking to prevent accidental unhooking.
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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

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BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Hooks with safety locking are readily available and should always be used.
6.12.3 The load on hanging hooks which are fastened to the top of a sign or luminaire should
be spread by using washers both inside and outside the body of the sign or luminaire.
The diameter of the washers should be not less than 3 times the diameter of the bolt. If
the weight of the sign or luminaire is greater than 11 kg, the hanging bolts should be
fixed directly into a reinforcing plate within the sign or luminaire.
Once the load on the means of suspension has been calculated in accordance 6.12.1,
the effect of the load on the sign housing should be considered. The Clause gives
adequate information for this to be done.
6.12.4 A minimum of two means of attachment to a wall or supporting structure should be
provided for individual letters, luminaires or backing panels for signs. The maximum
spacing between fixing centres should not exceed 600 mm.
See also various requirements in 6.5 and 6.6.
6.12.5 Conductors carrying the electrical supplies to a sign should not be used as means of
suspension or attachment for that sign.
There is conflict with the requirements in 7.1. This requires low-voltage signs to conform
to EN 60598. That Standard allows lightweight luminaires (and this would include signs)
to be suspended by means of their mains cables. An obvious example is a light fitting
and shade in a typical living room. Replace the luminaire by a small plastic sign and
you have a situation that conflicts with 6.12.5. However, for most applications, having
separate means of suspension is preferred. See also the requirement for at least two
means of suspension specified in 6.12.1.
6.13 Finishing
The clauses in this section of BS 559 are largely self explanatory and require the sign maker to
use processes specified by the suppliers of the paints, inks or substrates.
6.13.1 Suppliers of paints or other finishing treatments should be able to provide written
evidence of the satisfactory outdoor performance of their products over a period
corresponding to at least to the service life of the sign.
6.13.2 Pre-treatment, paint application and curing should be carried out in accordance with the
recommendations of the paint supplier.
6.13.3 Paint finishes should be of a type which can be repaired or otherwise treated on site
using an air-drying brush-applied schedule unless other finishing treatments are
specified by the customer, or otherwise considered appropriate,.
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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

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Published
Review Date

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Jun 2016

6.13.4 The quality and thickness of anodic protection to be applied to aluminium should be in
accordance with BS EN 12373-1, as agreed between the sign supplier and the
purchaser.
NOTE The thickness and other parameters should be agreed on the basis of the
environmental conditions and pollution levels expected at the installation site.
6.13.5 Powder organic coatings applied to aluminium or galvanised steel should conform to BS
6496 or BS EN 13438, as appropriate.
6.13.6 If paints or inks are applied to non-flammable materials, such as metals, the resulting
surface spread of flame characteristic should be not worse than Class 1 of BS 476: Part
7: 1997. If they are applied to the surfaces of flammable materials, the resulting surface
should have a spread of flame characteristic of not worse than that of the underlying
substrate.
This clause is of particular importance where materials of low flammability have been
specified. Several plastics materials have a Class 1 rating (even Class 0) and this can
be affected by using the wrong thickness or the wrong type of paint.
6.13.7 Where paints and inks are to be used on plastics materials, the sign manufacturer
should obtain from the supplier written evidence that they are compatible with the
plastics materials to be painted and that they will not cause surface crazing.
Stresses can be left in moulded panels if they have been inadequately annealed. Such
stresses can result in crazing if paints or inks that are solvent based are applied.
6.13.8 The sign maker should ensure that plastics materials which have been formed are
annealed prior to painting so as to avoid surface crazing after the application of paints or
inks. The annealing should be carried out in accordance with the recommendations of
the suppliers of the plastics materials
6.13.9 Flux residues remaining after soldering, brazing or welding operations should be either
removed or effectively neutralised before the finishing processes are applied.
Leaving acidic flux residues in cracks or, for example, under soldered flanges will cause
rusting. Covering the area with a layer of paint does not help. Sign makers should have
a system for washing and drying soldered components before painting.
Full details of suitable finishing processes are given in BSGA Technical Guideline:
D2.4

Finishing processes
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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

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A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

7.

ILLUMINATED SIGNS

7.1

General
Unless otherwise agreed or specified with the purchaser, signs shall have even and consistent
luminance.
NOTE 1

Planning Regulations should be referred to; the maximum permissible luminance is


given in ILE report No.5.

NOTE 2

Environmental impact via light pollution should be considered. The unnecessary


use of up-lighters should be discouraged. Considerately and effectively illuminated
signs will preserve amenity and increase positive planning application results and
improve neighbouring site relations.
Light pollution can be minimised by, for example:
a) correct alignment and spacing of luminaires;
b) the use of light sensors, time switches and PIR detectors;
c) the use of shields and cowls.

Another new area covered by BS 559, evenness of luminance and light pollution. The
paragraphs are self explanatory.

7.2

LEDs
7.2.1 Electrical components and LED modules shall either;
a) conform to IP X3; or
b) be housed in an enclosure conforming to 6.3.2 and be protected against moisture
e.g. live parts have a conformity coating.
7.2.2

LED modules shall be installed in accordance with the suppliers instructions.


NOTE The instructions generally include:
a) power supply details including voltage and power rating;
b) wiring details including maximum numbers of modules per circuit;
c) spacing required for even illumination.

7.2.3

Power supplies shall be marked with voltage and power rating.

7.2.4

Cable shall be chosen to ensure minimum voltage drop from the power supply to the
module(s).

7.2.5

The power supply output shall be protected from overcurrent.


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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

K4.1

A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Another new section this time bringing LEDs into line with other light sources in signs.
7.3

Self-contained signs
7.3.1 Self contained fixed signs shall conform to BS 4533-102.1.
7.3.2

Self contained portable signs shall conform to BS EN 60598-2-4.

7.3.3

Self-contained signs operating at high voltage shall conform to BS EN 50107-1 and BS


4533-102.1 or BS EN 60598-2-4, as appropriate.
Typical examples might include small point-of-sale beer signs that have some neon
tubing operating at high voltage. Clearly, those parts need to conform to EN 50107.
However, there will be parts such as the mains lead, internal terminals and possibly
switches which operate at low voltage (i.e. mains voltage). This clause makes it clear
that EN 60598 (BS 4533) applies to those parts. In particular, sign makers should
ensure that the marking requirements of both EN 60598 and EN 50107 are complied
with (see Section 8).
BS 4533: Section 102.1 is identical to the European harmonised standard EN 60598,
Part 2.1. This refers to fixed general purpose luminaires (or signs) and merely contains
cross references to the appropriate clauses of Part 1 of EN 60598. Full details on how
to conform to these Standards are given in BSGA Technical Guideline:
K7.1
K3.1

7.4

Guidance notes on BS 4533 (BS EN 60598), Luminaires


Guidance notes on EN 50107, The CENELEC Standard for high-voltage signs

Signs or luminous discharge tube installations


7.4.1 BS EN 50107 applies to signs or luminous tube installations operating at high voltage.
Full details on how to conform to this Standard are given in BSGA Technical Guideline:
K3.1
7.4.2

Guidance notes on EN 50107, The CENELEC Standard for high-voltage signs

BS 7671 applies to signs or luminous discharge-tube installations operating at a voltage


not exceeding low voltage.
Full details on how to conform to this Standard are given in BSGA Technical Guideline:
K 6.1 A guide to the IEE Wiring Regulations (BS 7671)

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

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A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

7.5

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Floodlighting luminaires
These shall conform to BS EN 60598-2-5.
Guidance on the marking requirements in BS EN 60598-2-5 is given in BSGA Technical
Guideline:
K7.1

Guidance notes on BS 4533 (BS EN 60598), Luminaires

8.

MARKETING AND LITERATURE

8.1

Marking (illuminated signs)


8.1.1 The marking of signs which operate at a voltage exceeding low voltage should conform
to BS EN 50107.
Guidance on the marking requirements in EN 50107 is given in BSGA Technical
Guideline:
K3.1
8.1.2

Guidance notes on EN 50107, The CENELEC Standard for high-voltage signs

The marking of the parts of signs and sign installations operating at a voltage not
exceeding low voltage should conform to BS 7671.
Guidance on the marking requirements in BS 7671 is given in BSGA Technical
Guideline:
K 6.1

8.1.3

A guide to the IEE Wiring Regulations (BS 7671)

The marking of self-contained illuminated signs operating at low voltage should conform
to BS EN 60598-1.
Guidance on the marking requirements in BS 4533 (EN 60598) is given in BSGA
Technical Guideline:
K7.1

8.1.4

Guidance notes on BS 4533 (BS EN 60598), Luminaires

If self-contained signs have parts operating at a voltage exceeding low voltage but
include other parts of the sign illumination or wiring operating at low voltage, the
marking should conform to the relevant sections BS EN 50107, BS 4533: Section 102.1,
or BS 4533: Section 102.4, as appropriate.
See comments in 8.1.1, 8.1.2 and 8.2.3 above.
PAGE 22

Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

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A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

8.2

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Literature (all signs)


The designer/manufacturer shall advise the customer whether they provide a recovery and
disposal service.
NOTE 1
NOTE 2
NOTE 3

Consideration should be given to dismantling, segregation and recycling of


dissimilar materials at the design stage of a sign.
Attention is drawn to the WEEE (2006) and RoHS (2008) Regulations.
Various materials are hazardous upon recovery e.g. lead asbestos cladding and
cold cathode tubing. Electrical and structural stability should also be taken into
account.

The safe demolition, recovery, segregation and recycling of signs are key elements of modern sign
manufacturing.

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

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A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Annex A

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Guidance on working with vinyl films

The very wide range of materials, sources and techniques relating to working with vinyl films precludes
the application of Standard language.
However, there are some general good practices which should be followed to ensure the required
service life of vinyl films and graphics.
A.1

General
Following correct storage, handling, maintenance and removal procedures maximises the life of
the finished graphic. In the event of failure, the suppliers warranties are not invalidated.

A.2

Storage
Unapplied vinyl film should be stored in a clean dry area, away from excessive sunlight, heat or
humidity. Storage area should be maximum 38 degrees Celsius and less than 80 % humidity.

A.3

Handling
Applied vinyl film should be handled carefully to avoid damage. Follow manufacturers
instructions when bagging (temporary covering).
Generally avoid the use of pre-mask tape as it can bond to the graphic, paper or plastic covers
by plasticizer migration. Fasteners which might abrade the graphic should not be used.

A.4

Removal
Removable films are easier to remove and leave less adhesive on the substrate than
permanent films.
Removable films should be removed within the time specified by the supplier. Little or no heat
should be required and less than 30 % adhesive residue should be left on the substrate.
Although not designed to be removed permanent films can be removed with the use of heat,
but more than 50 % of the adhesive could be left on the substrate.
The type and condition of the substrate will affect both initial and ultimate adhesion and ease of
removal.
It is important to check suppliers warranties as removal from coated substrates might not be
covered and film removal might damage the substrate.

A.5

Substrate selection, preparation and cleaning


It is important to use the correct preparation and application techniques for the substrate in use.
Vinyl film can successfully be applied to most substrates that are:
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BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

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Jun 2016

1)
Clean
NOTE All substrates should be considered dirty up until the last cleaning process prior to film
application
2)
Dry
NOTE Any moisture trapped between film and substrate will cause lack of adhesion.
3)
Non-porous
Porous materials absorb or allow passage of moisture which will lead to a lack of
adhesion.
4)
Smooth
It is more difficult to obtain good adhesion, particularly when the substrate is rougher
than 150 grit sandpaper.
The three basic cleaning methods (general, solvent and IPA(isopropyl alcohol)) are dictated by
the substrate being used. Refer to suppliers recommendations to ensure warranties apply.
A.6

Application
Films should be applied when the ambient, film and substrate temperatures are within the
suppliers recommended range. Applications outside this range may affect performance or
negate warranties.

A.7

Conditions that might affect application


A.7.1 Films above recommended temperatures might prematurely grab and adhere.
A.7.2 Substrates should be above the dew point temperature to prevent condensation.
A.7.3 It may be difficult to keep the substrate dry in humid conditions.
A.7.4 Below recommended temperatures films and substrates may become stiff and brittle
and not adequately bond.

A.8

Cleaning
Cleaning graphics with an over-laminate film should be carried out with a chemical cleaner
suitable for use on high quality painted surfaces. The cleaner should be wet, non-abrasive with
pH 3 to 11. Power or pressure washing is possible but care must be taken to prevent the liquid
penetrating below the film.
Some oil based and organic contaminants might remain after normal cleaning. There are a
number of recommended methods, which should be approached on a test and approve basis.

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Technical Guidelines | Section K: Legislation and Standards

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A Guide to British Standard


BS 559: 2009
Published
Review Date

Annex B

Sept 2010
Jun 2016

Details of other standards cross-referenced by BS 559

PAGE 26