Brass house signs
There’s something very classy and elegant about brass house signs. They look reassuringly old-fashioned, taking us back to the days of personal bank managers, doctors who still knew their patients by name and respected family lawyers.
But you don’t have to be the old-fashioned type to have a brass house sign, just a lover of beauty. Polished brass has a lovely soft glow about it, a charm, that no other metal shares. It reflects light very differently from bronze, stainless steel or aluminium. There’s a quiet restraint to brass (which begs the question, when did “brassy” come to mean “brash and vulgar”?).
Brass house signs are particularly suitable to urban homes, close to the street, where your sign can be easily read – and easily reached for polishing. That’s the only drawback to the metal: it does require regular care and attention. It’s ideal for house-proud people who enjoy cleaning and polishing and having everything in and around their home looking beautiful.
As metals go, brass is quite soft so it needs a gentle touch with the polishing duster – no need to go at it hammer and tongs – and the polish should be properly cleaned out of all the engraved parts to avoid a build-up. But apart from the cleaning, brass is an easy metal to live with. It will stand up to the great British weather just as well as its tougher relation, bronze (and look prettier).
Etched, painted and polished
Brass is easy to etch so whatever words, numbers and/or pictures you choose will show up clearly. The engraved areas can also be coloured so they stand out better There has to be a tiny gap between each colour so that the paints don’t run into each other, but you can have a whole bouquet of them if you want.
Brass plates can be etched in two ways. The traditional way is to have a flat plate surrounding the etched wording; the second is to leave the words or numbers proud and cut away the area around them. Both look good; it’s just a question of your personal style and preference.
Etching isn’t a complicated process but it does require care. First your design is created on the computer and a vinyl mask is cut, either by hand or, if it’s very intricate, by laser. The mask is fixed on the brass plate to cover everything that you don’t want etched, including the underneath of the plaque.
Once that’s done, the plate is passed over rollers while being sprayed all over with etchant. When it comes out the other end, your pattern will have been eaten out by the acid in the etchant while the rest of the plate will be just as it was before the process began. The plate is washed thoroughly to remove any remaining etchant.
Painting the etched areas of your sign
The etched areas are then painted, if required, using two-pack paint (grey undercoat plus the colour or colours you want to see). We have to leave each colour to dry for several hours before applying the next, so a multi-coloured sign can take a couple of days to complete. When it’s all done we carefully remove the vinyl mask using tweezers so that we don’t scratch the brass or the paint. Only now can we check to make sure there are no marks or defects; if we find any we have to start the whole process again, so it’s a rather nervous moment. If not, we breathe a sigh of relief and polish the plaque.
Some people ask us to lacquer their brass house signs, thinking it will provide more protection from the weather, but we don’t recommend it. Lacquer looks very messy if it gets damaged by frost or stormy weather and then has to be completely removed, which is a long-winded and therefore expensive process. Light but regular polishing will keep the metal looking beautiful for years.
Brass house signs are a great way to make your house stand out, and prove that you are a person of taste, a lover of beauty and the good things in life. If you’d like help in designing a brass sign for your house, please get in touch.