1st SIGN DESIGN STEP – METAL TYPE & BACKGROUND COLOR
Aluminum, brass and bronze are available to choose from. The base material is painted any one color, and raised letters and pictograms have either vertical or horizontal brush marks. Over both paint and metal a clear coat determines gloss level.
For compliance, a high contrast is required between letters and background. This means if your aesthetic dictates a particular paint color it limits your metal options, and vice versa.
Aluminum is the most cost effective material option. Being pretty close to white, it also has a wider range of contrasting paint colors than bronze or brass. Aluminum is also lighter, making it easier to install.
As you can see here, with a red background only aluminum meets ADA sign contrast requirements.
Brass and bronze are similar in appearance, offering a warm color and perhaps implying more permanence and luxury than aluminum. Between the two, sign performance is the same and as of 2022, cost is highly comparable. Some designers consider bronze a more classic look, as it was used historically for exterior plaques and similar applications. Conversely, brass works well with many modern interior fixtures and color schemes.
The clear topcoat may be either satin or matte. If the signs are used indoors, we recommend matte. For exterior signs, satin is usually best as dust and dirt decrease gloss level during normal use. Gloss coatings are not ADA compliant.
To communicate paint color, feel free to use the paints codes from any major paint maker, hex or Pantone colors.
If color and material are not critical for your project, we recommend selecting aluminum with black satin paint. It’s cost effective, easy to read and has the fastest turn around time.