The Main Differences Between Cast and Etched Metal Plaques

Posted By  
| 06 Apr 2022
Differences between cast and etched metal plaques

If you are considering getting a metal plaque installed for your business or organization, then it might be hard to know where to begin. Generally, there are two different options you can choose from: cast and etched. The choices really boil down to what aesthetic you prefer.

However, it is sometimes helpful to understand how each is made and what you can expect it to look like when making your decision. Here, we look at the main differences between cast and etched metal plaques to help you make the right choice for your needs.

Common Uses for Metal Plaques

Metal plaques are suitable for all types of companies, facilities, and organizations, as well for commemorative purposes. Some common uses for metal plaques include the following:

  • Individuals and families use plaques to honour family members, commemorate occasions, or even just as an address plate.
  • Communities and park districts use plaques to mark monuments, the park name, or to commemorate community members or events.
  • Universities and school districts often have their school crest mounted at the school or have plaques in honour of major donors, awards, events, contributions to the community, or to honour faculty members and graduates.
  • Commercial buildings and hotels use plaques for top-tier tenant suites.
  • Health care facilities use plaques for donor recognition and dedications, or to designate special areas and departments.
  • Libraries use plaques to honour donors, historical designation, or for building dedications.
  • Zoos use plaques for photos, stories, and illustrations, as well as for directional signs and animal enclosure identification.
  • Businesses and company offices use plaques for company logos, or to mark various offices or locations at the facility.
  • Sports organizations commemorate sporting teams, athletes, coaches, supporters, and events.
  • Public and private organizations commemorate both the famous and infamous people associated with the community or location.

There really is no end to the possible uses for metal plaques.

What is cast metal?

Cast metal has been used for over 6,000 years. Metal casting uses molten, melted metal, and a mould to create a shape or image. Usually made of either aluminum or bronze, the molten metal is poured into a clay or sand mould. The mould contains the desired design, and once the metal is poured, it is left to solidify. Once the metal cools and sets, you have a very durable plaque because it consists of a solid, single piece of metal.

What designs are suited to cast metal?

Cast metal can work for all sorts of designs, including everything from your company or organizational logo to emblems, and from words to images. They are best suited to create a look of permanence and enhanced depth. They have a more formal look, so are ideal for historical institutions, educational facilities, professional offices, and government buildings.

Are there different types of cast metal plaques?

Yes. First, you have your choice of metals, including:

  • Bronze
  • Stainless steel
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Brass
  • Aluminum alloys

Next, there are various finishes and details you can add, including:

  • Painted details in your choice of colours
  • Oxidized patinas for bronze, as well as turquoise or green patina for copper
  • Polished to your choice of high-gloss or satin sheen
  • Brushed grain
  • Custom borders such as ivy, jewel, and Greek key
  • Textures such as pebble, leatherette, stipple, or sand

You choose the combination that works best for your needs and budget building. You can also decide if you prefer a bas-relief for more detail and dimension. This is a popular choice if your plaque is commemorating a person and their image is part of the design.

What is etched metal?

The etching process offers precise detail, making it suitable for very complex designs. The design is “etched” using chemicals that change the sheen of the metal with the contrast creating the image. The chemicals eat away at the metal, with the design being either recessed or raised. It provides a very contemporary look compared to cast metal signs, with many people choosing modern looks with stainless steel.

What designs are suited to etched metal?

Some of the most common designs for etched metal include:

  • Line art: Black and white drawings can be used to create the art for etched metal plaques even when very detailed.
  • Recessed graphics: Recessed graphics first etch the design, and then the recess is filled with paint to accent the details. Recessing creates a shallow image that can be coloured in your choice of paints while the background maintains the colour of the metal.
  • Photos: Halftone images can be used much like the process used to create newspaper images in print. They create an interesting texture with a series of tiny dots that are filled with black ink.
  • Raised graphics: In this design, paint is applied to the background, and the image or design is seen in the colour of the metal. These plaques usually don’t have a border, making it easier to see the raised design.

You can discuss your ideas with our team, and we can offer suggestions for which look will suit your needs and sense of style.

How to Choose Between Cast and Metal Plaques

Here is a list to help you choose the right metal plaque for you.

Cast Metal

You should choose the cast metal plaque if you are:

  • Creating a plaque larger than 14” x 16”
  • Including a portrait
  • Installing the plaque on the floor
  • Looking for a classic, traditional sign

Etched Metal

You should choose an etched metal plaque if you are:

  • Using text smaller than 36 points
  • Need a plaque thinner than ¼ inch
  • Prefer a modern look

If you still aren’t sure about the best choice for your organization or business, then speak to our team at New Style Signs today. We have been creating customized metal plaques for our customers for over 50 years. For more information on cast metal plaques in Mississauga, call us at 866-591-6938 or contact us online here.

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New Style Signs produces creative and high quality custom signs for companies throughout Southern Ontario!

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