First Surface vs Second Surface: Window Graphics

First surface window graphics by Great Big Graphics in Vermont

There's no denying that window graphics are an essential part of any in-person business. Attracting attention to your business is nearly impossible if you aren’t catching people's eyes. Window graphics are the first thing people see when passing by your business, so it's crucial that they have a professional appearance to encourage customers to stop in for a visit.

So, you need window graphics for your business- where do you begin? Let's start with the basics.

The two most common types of window graphics are first surface and second surface. First surface window graphics are placed on the exterior of the window glass facing the outside, and second surface window graphics are applied to the inside, also facing outside. There are pros and cons to each, which we'll compare later on.

It's important to note that both first surface and second surface window graphics are installed to be permanent, and serve a different purpose than temporary window displays you may see stores changing throughout the seasons. First surface and second surface window graphics should be carefully thought out, designed, and installed by a professional to ensure they'll benefit your business and grow value long-term.

What are first surface window graphics?

First-surface window decals provide somewhat better visibility, and are generally easy to decipher since they are applied directly to the glass's exterior side rather than on the backside.

First Surface window graphics by Great Big Graphics in Vermont

What are second surface window graphics?

Second surface window graphics are installed to the inner side of the window glass, facing out. Second surface window graphics are elegant, and tend to last well against harsh weather conditions due to their protected indoor environment.

(Hint: great for Northeast businesses)!

Second Surface window graphics by Great Big Graphics in Vermont

But how do you decide which window graphics are best for your business? Here's what to consider.

Advantages of first surface window graphics

A first surface window graphic is the best option for a business when it comes to visibility and clarity. Being placed on the outside of the window, there is no glare from sunlight, which provides somewhat better visibility in comparison to second surface window graphics.

Window graphics applied first surface are known to be very legible from a distance, which makes it easy for passersby and potential customers to engage with the business from the first glance.

Disadvantages of first surface window graphics

But first surfaces have their disadvantages too. First surface window graphics require specific weather conditions when installing, and, depending on your location, may deduct from zoning sign allowances.

Advantages of second surface window graphics

At Great Big Graphics, we love second surface window graphics. Second surface window graphics can be installed year-round, and often afford your business bonus signage you wouldn’t otherwise be able to have. . Being installed on the interior side of a business window, they're protected from other unpredictable outdoor forces such as graffiti or vandalism, which is a nice perk!

In addition to their visual advantage, second surface window graphics are also beneficial in situations where zoning restrictions prohibit the branding businesses desire on their storefront windows. When graphics are applied to the outside of the window, they are often regarded as signage and fall under the jurisdiction of zoning. But when they're put on the inside, even if they face out they're exempt from zoning rules. This makes it easier on the business owner and saves them time and money in the long run.

Disadvantages of second surface window graphics

The one downside to second surface window graphics is that their visibility is slightly less consistent than first surface. Due to being installed on the backside of the glass, there’s usually a bit of a glare from the sunlight, making them somewhat less clear to see from the road.

While this can be prevented to some extent through professional installation and careful upkeep of the window glass, business owners are always going to get slightly better visibility from first surface window graphics.

Install window graphics today

Choosing window graphics for your business is a big decision. Whether you’re looking to install in cold weather, in need of professional window graphic design, or just want the best visibility and clarity possible for your brand - Great Big Graphics has you covered. Our team of graphic design experts knows what it takes when it comes to professional business signage, and we work with businesses and brands across New England every day to help their businesses thrive.

Get in touch today, and we'll get started on your next project! We can't wait to hear from you.