Flexible Face Tensioning Procedure

The patented ABC Tensioning System is easily learned, faster to install, and less expensive than any other hardware system on the market. Millions of ABC's Tensioners have been used in many thousands of signs in severe weather conditions, including hurricanes and even tornados, since 1980. When used as recommended by ABC, failures have been virtually nil.

Proper tensioning of flexible faces is very important. Too little tension may develop wrinkles in the face, caused by loosened Tensioners from wind and vibration. This will not happen when the face is properly tensioned. Too much tension puts unnecessary and undesirable stress on the face, frame and Tensioners. Please follow our simple instructions carefully. This will ensure beautiful, wrinkle-free and trouble free face installations.


With the sign frame laying flat and face up on floor stands, mark a center line on each side of the frame, to orient the center lines on the face. This will precisely center and align the face to the frame.


Place Tensioners in the saddle of the sign frame, on opposite sides, for both the height and length dimensions. Measure the distance between the Tensioner lips to determine both the vertical and horizontal dimensions.

Regardless of the brand of flexible faces, subtract a maximum of 1/8" per foot tensioning factor from those dimensions, not to exceed 1" regardless of size. This is the reference line.

Add 3" all around the Reference Line (a total of 6" overall). This becomes the Face Trim Line, for cutting the face to size.

Signs Over 16' Long
As an alternative to using the 1" maximum tension factor when signs exceed 16' in length, to tension the long direction, one may start from the center, progressively tension across the short direction, then work outward, by tapping the Tensioners sideways to the ends of the sign.


With the substrate laying flat and face-up on a clean surface, mark the Reference Lines on the face with a plex marking pencil. make sure opposite lines are perfectly parallel.


Draw the Trim Line 3" outside the Reference Line, all around the face.


Then trim the face to its overall trim size.


Mark a centerline on the Reference Line on all sides of the face. Beginning from these center lines, draw marks on the Reference Line for positioning the Tensioners on the face usually 12" on center. (See Tensioner Spacing, ABC's Wind-Speed  and Design and Criteria in your ABC Catalog).


Cut the corners at a 90 degree angle as shown. The trimmed size should leave about a 3/4" flap of material under the lip of the Tensioner when the face is in its final position.


Place a dowel under the face about 3/4" outside and parallel to the Reference Line and fold the face material around and under the dowel.


Pinch the face together at one end of the dowel, and slide the Tensioner over the vinyl face and dowel. Leave about 1/2" of the dowel sticking out of one end of the Tensioner so it can be held to rotate the Tensioner to its proper position.

When positioned properly , the Tensioner should lean at an angle of about 30 degrees, and with the lip of the Tensioner aligned under the Reference Line when the "lever" of the Tensioner is rotated back flat. Then slide the Tensioner over to center it on the dowel. Repeat until all Tensioners are on the face.


Place the two Tensioners on each side of the center mark in the saddle of the frame across the short dimension. Rotate the "lever of the Tensioner back, flat against the frame, then slide a keeper over the Tensioner. It is then locked in place.

On larger signs you may need to support the face temporarily by putting boards or rods underneath the face so that they can be removed after the center Tensioners are fastened down.


Several tools can be used to easily pull the Tensioner lever back against the frame. A blunted 2" wood chisel in the slot of the Tensioner works well, and a large jawed vice grips can be used to hold the Tensioner down tight to easily slip the Keepers onto the Tensioners.

Now repeat the process to lock the two center Tensioners down the remaining ends of the sign. Next, lock down the Tensioners at each corner on all sides. Then, go back to any center and work towards the ends of the sign. Two people, working opposite each other, make this a very fast, efficient process.


If slight wrinkles develop, take a mallet and screwdriver and tap the Tensioners beginning at the wrinkle and work towards the closest corner.

Once tensioned properly, the friction of the Keepers and Tensioners against the frame make them very unlikely to move sideways. However to prevent the possibility of the Keepers vibrating off the Tensioners during long distance transportation and wind, install #7 sheet metal screws (or silicone), into the frame, just under the Keepers on the vertical sides of the sign.

Securing the Keepers is not generally needed on the top or bottom horizontal frame, but may be advisable for large signs (150 square feet or more), which may be installed in high wind regions, and especially if signs are to be shipped long distances by truck. In those instances place a dab of silicone on each side of each Keeper to prevent its sideways movement from shock and vibration.

Finished Product