What are faux neon signs? How to make them?

Published April 3, 2023

Faux neon signs: The perfect alternative to real neon

Have you had the opportunity to lay your eyes on those brilliantly vivid and multicolored neon signs that can be spotted on the streets and grab your attention, making you feel an array of emotions? Neon signs have been a part of our surroundings for decades, but they can be exorbitant when it comes to procuring and maintaining them. This is where faux neon signs come in, serving as a much more budget-friendly and pragmatic substitute.

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In this article, we will delve into the realm of faux neon signs, exploring their upsides and downsides, the materials utilized to create them, the different techniques for producing them, and much more. Whether you are a business proprietor, a DIY enthusiast, or simply curious about the universe of neon signs, you will find a wealth of valuable information and pointers here.

This is chapter 10 in the neon sign library

Are there fake neon signs?

Fake neon signs have emerged as a sought-after option for a wide range of applications. They can be found in restaurants, bars, retail stores, and even in people’s homes as a trendy and captivating decor element. Some examples of popular fake neon signs include LED neon signs, rope light signs, and EL wire signs.

Fake neon signs offer several advantages. For instance, they are frequently more reasonably priced than authentic neon signs, rendering them a popular selection for small businesses and home decor. Furthermore, faux neon signs tend to be more sturdy than authentic neon signs since they do not require delicate glass tubes or high voltage electrical currents.

However, fake neon signs also have certain drawbacks. Although they can simulate a similar effect to genuine neon signs, they may not exhibit the same degree of brightness or color saturation. Additionally, some fake neon signs may not be as energy-efficient as authentic neon signs, leading to increased electricity costs over time.

Learn more: Neon versus LED: an indepth neon sign comparison.

What is faux neon?

Faux neon signs are a highly favored and economically viable substitute for actual neon signs. They are constructed utilizing an assortment of materials such as PVC, acrylic, and glass, all of which can be contorted and molded to imitate the appearance of neon tubing.

PVC is a frequently used material for crafting faux neon signs owing to its flexibility, durability, and ease of utilization. It can be effortlessly trimmed and fashioned into a multitude of designs and sizes, making it optimal for generating bespoke signage. However, PVC may not be as long-lasting as other materials and may exhibit diminished sturdiness.

Acrylic is another favored material for generating faux neon signs. It bears a resemblance to glass but is significantly lighter and more economical. Acrylic is also known for its resilience, ability to weather elements, and uniform light diffusion. However, it may be more intricate to work with than PVC and may require more technical proficiency to mold and bend.

Signs that are popularly fashioned from PVC include “open” signs, “bar” signs, and “love” signs, whereas acrylic is commonly employed for producing faux neon signs for home decor, such as “home” signs or “man cave” signs.

Learn more: Are acrylic neon signs the future of business signage?

How to make a faux neon sign

Crafting a faux neon sign is a thrilling and gratifying undertaking that can delight the senses. To undertake this endeavor, there exist various techniques at one’s disposal, such as LED lights, rope lights, and EL wire. The method chosen is contingent on the intended effect and available funds, each having its own benefits and drawbacks.

Beginning with LED lights, selecting the appropriate LED strip is the foremost step. These strips are offered in diverse colors and are modifiable to suit any configuration or dimension. Once you have obtained your LED strip, the next step entails affixing it to a backing board or surface, which can be accomplished by utilizing silicone sealant or adhesive.

How to make an LED neon sign in personalized handwritting

Alternatively, for those opting for rope lights, choosing the appropriate size and color is crucial. Rope lights come in varying thicknesses, ranging from ¼ inch to ½ inch, and can be tailored to any form or size. To achieve a faux neon sign utilizing rope lights, affixing them to a backing board or surface using clips or adhesive is necessary.

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Lastly, selecting the appropriate color and thickness of EL wire is a prerequisite for making a faux neon sign using this method. EL wire is obtainable in numerous colors and can be modified to fit any magnitude or contour. To assemble a faux neon sign utilizing EL wire, affixing the wire to a backing board or surface using clips or adhesive is a requirement.

How to make faux neon sign

Cost of making a faux neon sign

Creating a faux neon sign is an optimal strategy for enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your home, business, or event in a budget-friendly manner. The price can be various from hundred dollars to thousand dollars up to many factors such as size, material and design, etc. Nevertheless, it’s imperative to fathom the costs involved in this endeavor before plunging in headfirst.

Calculating the total cost of creating a faux neon sign necessitates considering the size, complexity, and materials you plan to employ. Some online faux neon sign makers furnish cost calculators to facilitate estimating expenses. Apart from materials, labor costs may also need to be accounted for if you plan to delegate the task of crafting and installing the sign to a professional.

To curtail expenses when fashioning a faux neon sign, certain measures can be undertaken. One such measure is opting for less expensive materials or a more straightforward design. You can also economize by crafting and installing the sign yourself if you possess the necessary skill set and tools. Additionally, buying materials in bulk can serve as a cost-saving strategy in the long haul.

How can you tell if faux neon signs are real?

Faux neon signs have experienced a meteoric rise in popularity due to their affordability and versatility. Nevertheless, it can be quite challenging to distinguish between real neon signs and faux neon signs. So, how do you tell the difference between the two?

One possible approach is to examine whether the sign utilizes neon gas tubes, which are commonplace in traditional neon signs but not typically used in faux neon signs. Alternatively, you could investigate the presence of a UL certification mark, which indicates that the sign has undergone rigorous testing and complies with safety standards.

However, there are several observable distinctions in the visual appearance of real neon signs versus faux neon signs. Authentic neon signs radiate a brighter and more vibrant glow than their counterfeit counterparts. Additionally, genuine neon signs often boast a unique glass texture that is absent in faux neon signs. On the other hand, faux neon signs frequently employ PVC or acrylic to simulate the appearance of neon.

How to mimic neon?

If you’re yearning to replicate the striking, luminous ambiance of a neon sign, but desire to sidestep the use of actual neon, there exist a multitude of techniques at your disposal. One such technique is the utilization of paint or gel filters, which offer the ability to produce a neon-esque aesthetic. These materials are customarily transparent, and they are obtainable in an array of colors, rendering the creation of the brilliant and audacious appearance of a neon sign a breeze.

How i paint awesome 3D neon light effects

To begin, you must select the ideal paint or gel filters for your venture. Opt for products that are exclusively engineered for the purpose of generating a neon effect, as they will provide the most satisfactory outcomes. Once you have acquired your materials, you may proceed to apply them to your surface.

To engender a neon-like effect with paint, start by painting your surface with a foundational coat in the color of your choosing. Subsequently, employ a small brush to apply the paint in thin, even layers. Progressively build up the layers until you attain the desired degree of brightness and saturation.

Gel filters are an additional option for mimicking neon. These thin, pliant sheets can be trimmed to size and adhered to your surface using adhesive. To generate a neon-like effect, select a filter in the color of your preference and affix it to your surface. Additional filters in varying colors may then be added to formulate a more intricate design.

When endeavoring to simulate neon, it is of the essence to pay scrupulous attention to details such as the placement and spacing of your lines. By meticulously devising and executing your design, you can achieve a more convincing neon effect.

To procure the most desirable outcomes, it is recommended that you hone your skills on a smaller scale before attempting a more extensive project. And don’t be apprehensive to experiment with an array of techniques and materials until you discover the one that is optimal for your requisites.

Learn more: Looking for unique decor? Try these 30+ NEON SIGN IDEAS!

How to make a drawing look like a faux neon sign?

The process of transforming a drawing into a faux neon sign can be an exciting and imaginative endeavor. There are various methodologies that you can utilize to accomplish this task, relying on your preferences and resources available to you.

One alternative is to utilize neon effect applications that allow you to digitally apply neon effects to your drawing. These applications come with numerous styles and color options, and you can regulate the intensity of the neon effect to your liking.

Should you opt to utilize a neon effect app, the initial step is to select an application that suits your requirements. Numerous free and paid applications are available in app stores, each equipped with its distinct set of features. After selecting an app, upload your drawing and opt for the neon effect option. You can then adjust the color, style, and intensity of the effect until you are content with the outcome. Some apps may also enable you to incorporate animation into your faux neon sign.

Alternatively, you can hand paint your drawing to create a faux neon appearance. Although this method may require more time and effort, it can result in a distinct and personalized piece of artwork.

If you prefer to hand paint your drawing, you will require materials such as acrylic paints, a brush, and a surface to paint on. Begin by sketching your design onto the surface using a pencil. Then, use your brush and paint to fill in the sketch with the desired colors. To create a faux neon effect, use brighter colors for the outlines and darker colors for the inner parts of your design. You can also add shadows and highlights to create depth and dimension. Once you have finished painting, allow it to dry entirely before displaying or mounting it.

When creating a faux neon sign from a drawing, it’s crucial to pay attention to details to achieve the best possible outcome. Choose a design that is simple yet visually appealing, and ensure that the colors and shapes complement each other. If you are using a neon effect app, experiment with different settings until you find the perfect combination. If you are hand painting your design, take your time and be patient to get the best possible outcome.

Learn more: What are THE BEST NEON SIGN QUOTE IDEAS? Find Out Now!

How to make something look like faux neon?

If you are seeking to create a faux neon effect, there are a multitude of techniques that you may utilize. One prevalent approach involves silk screening to achieve a similar aesthetic. Silk screening necessitates using a stencil to apply ink onto a surface, resulting in a printed image.

  • To produce a faux neon sign with silk screening, you must begin by fabricating a stencil of your design. This may be accomplished either by hand or by employing a computer.
  • Once you have your stencil, you must apply it to the surface and utilize a squeegee to apply ink onto the surface, taking care to fill in all of the spaces in the stencil.
  • After the ink has dried, you may integrate LED lights or rope lights behind the stencil to produce a neon-like radiance.

Neon light effects when printing in vinyl

To attain optimal outcomes while attempting to create a faux neon look, it is essential to select the appropriate materials and techniques for your project. When working with vinyl or silk screening, it is crucial to employ high-quality materials and adhere to the instructions scrupulously. Moreover, it is recommended that you experiment with various lighting alternatives to identify the most effective combination for your design.

Alternatives to faux neon signs

When it comes to selecting the optimal signage for your personal or commercial purposes, you are not limited to faux neon signs alone. There are several alternatives available to you, each with its own degree of feasibility and versatility. In order to make an informed decision, it’s essential to understand the variations between each alternative, with perplexity and burstiness being two vital metrics.

Lightboxes are an alternative to faux neon signs that involve placing a printed image on a translucent material like glass or acrylic, then illuminating it from behind with LED lights. They are frequently used in retail settings and have a reputation for being versatile and cost-effective.

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Backlit signs are akin to lightboxes, but instead of being illuminated from behind, they are lit from within. They are created by placing a printed image on a light-diffusing material and illuminating it from within with LED lights. These types of signs are often employed in outdoor settings and can be striking and attention-grabbing.

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Every alternative comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. While traditional neon signs are well-known for their vivid hues, they can be quite expensive to create and maintain. Lightboxes, on the other hand, are a budget-friendly and versatile option, although they may not have the same visual impact as neon or backlit signs. Backlit signs can be incredibly striking and can be used in outdoor settings, although they may not be as customizable as other options.

Ultimately, when choosing an alternative to faux neon signs, it’s important to take your specific needs and budget into consideration. With a thorough understanding of the alternatives available to you, you can select the option that best suits your requirements and preferences.

Learn more: How to hang neon signs LIKE A PRO? The ultimate guide


As we draw to a close, it’s clear that the burgeoning popularity of faux neon signs is due in no small part to their impressive versatility and affordability. Although it’s true that they may not possess the same level of quality and authenticity as their genuine neon counterparts, faux neon signs nonetheless represent an exceptional choice for anyone looking to infuse their space with some neon-inspired pizzazz. All things considered, it’s clear that faux neon signs are a particularly wise alternative for anyone eager to embrace the aesthetics of neon signs without incurring the potentially exorbitant costs or inherent dangers associated with genuine neon signs.

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