Understanding Plaque SpecsTiffany Bronze Plaque

Some things we just can’t help you with. You will need to make decisions that only you can make. Where you place your plaque, for instance, is up to you. We can help you by showing you what others have done, and we do that through our website, such as the Hollywood Time Capsule article) and our gallery, of course, for both aluminum plaques (like the Barfield plaque below) and bronze plaques (like the Tiffany bronze shown here). But because you need to specify other things that are detailed and likely unfamiliar to you, such as plaque borders, plaque background textures, and plaque background textures - this article tries to help. We can definitely help you with the basic things you will need to specify for your plaque. Using photos and examples, this article shows the most common things that customers have ordered from us in the past. Barfield Aluminum Plaque


Size is important. Size must serve several purposes. First, your plaque must fit where you will place it. We cannot help with that.  But as for fitting text on a size, you can get an idea from the formula shown in How to Size a Simple Plaque.

We currently offer 7x5 and 6x8 sizes of metal plaques – and those are indeed small! They are a challenge to get your message onto that size because when metal plaques are formed (either tooled or cast) – we need to keep the letters to a minimum size so that the process can be done. Just because you can print your message nicely onto a piece of paper doesn’t mean you can have it done in a metal plaque of this type.

The most popular sizes of plaque that we do is the 6x8 and the 8x10 sizes. You can get most messages onto these sizes, and you will want to be sure the time capsule is opened when you want it to be. Larger sizes are available. 

You can easily order a rectangular plaque online, but if you want a special pattern to your plaque, such as a circular plaque or other fancy style, please contact us directly.


Besides the size of your plaque, you should consider the material we use to make your plaque. Most common are the aluminum and bronze. Both have lifetime guarantees (unless you walk on them regularly), and those are the materials we have on our site currently. Our foundry also offers brass, so please ask us about that if brass is your choice of material. Today, the default style of metal formed plaque that we have online is for the Precision Tooled Plaques, although you can order a Cast Plaque also - there is simply an additional charge.

You can choose an aluminum plaque:Aluminum Plaque Example

Or you can choose a bronze plaque material:

Bronze Plaque Example

Border Style Specs

Common styles for your plaque’s border include Single Line, Single Line with Bevel, No Line, No Line with Bevel, and Double Line. Other styles are available, but this article shows common styles. Contact us if you need a different style.

All of the examples below are for a precision tooled bronze plaque with blind mounting, in which the hardware is placed in from behind. If you order from us online, we choose a default for you, and “Other” so you can specify what you want at the time that you order, or wait until we send your proof and specs sheet (within a day of your order, most often).

Bronze Plaque, No Border

No Border

Bronze Plaque, Bevel (No Border)

Bevel but no border

Bronze Plaque, Single Line Border (default choice)

Single Line Border

Bronze Plaque, Single Line Bevel

Single Line Bevel

If you have lots of space on your plaque, you can consider fancier borders. Here are a few.

Bronze Plaque, Double Line Border

Double Line Border for Plaques

Bronze Plaque with Double Line Bevel Border

Double Line Border with Bevel Edge

Do you see the edges of these plaques? The edge that comes down from the top of the plaque is called a “Return”. Most commonly, such as for Single Line Borders, the return is painted the same color as the background. The area that you see the metal showing through is not painted. This is evident on these photos for the Bevel style borders. The default for our plaques is to paint that area. If you want it done otherwise, please make that known in your notes or on the specs sheet when we submit it to you.

Background Textures

We offer 4 textures at this time: Leatherette (default), Pebbled, Stipple, and Sand.
Sand is the smoothest, while leatherette is most traditional. Plaques need a texture so that the metal surface is consistently made. Here are some examples:


Here is the Leatherette texture, the most traditional texture we have available.


Stipple as a Plaque Texture
And here is the Stipple Texture.


Pebbled Texture for Plaques
Now, the Pebbled Texture:


Sand Plaque Texture
And the Sand Texture, which despite its name is the smoothest texture:


Bead Blasted Plaque Texture
Finally, here is a Bead-Blasted Texture, and you may want it if you want a low contrast plaque.
This example shows the bare metal through and would only have a clear coating over it. The example shows aluminum.

Background Colors

National Aviary Plaque with Black BackgroundPlaques begin with a metal - either bronze or aluminum - and the metal has a texture applied to it. With raised lettering, the part of the plaque that is behind that raised lettering (or logo) is painted - so that you see the raised area as the metal showing through. The raised areas of the plaque are brushed (you could also get them polished for an additional charge).

The most popular color background for Aluminum Plaques is BLACK, and that is our default when you order - but you can choose from one of many other standard colors for your background for no additional charge. Where you see "other" in the ordering area online, you can specify that in your notes. You get another chance to revise this when we send you the plaque layout proof and specifications sheet to approve.

The most popular color background for Bronze Plaques is DARK OXIDE (a dark brown, think semisweet chocolate color). Again, you can choose one of a variety of other colors for your background.

Bronze Plaque with Dark Oxide Backgrd ColorIn general, the darker colors look nicest when contrasted with the plaque's metal color. But some customers like gray on aluminum! So, the amount of contrast is up to you.

To see some of the the various colors, see our pamphlet on "Things to Specify for Plaques" as well as examples in our Plaques Gallery (both aluminum and bronze). We have a current blog article on the greens. If you have a color in mind, don't hesitate to contact us or specify that in your notes when you order the plaque. We will likely have a standard color that is very close - or, you could choose to color match for an additional charge.


These images show you the clear coatings that you can choose. To see the difference, the following are ordered from the least shiny to the shiniest. Our default is satin coating. Please specify in your notes if you wish the coating to be applied to both front and back of the plaque. Otherwise, you will get a front coating only. Coatings are definitely recommended! They help keep your plaque condition nice during the weather it must endure over time.


Satin Clear Coating

Satin is the default clear coating online.


Matte Clear Coating for Plaques


Semigloss Coating for Plaques


Gloss clear coat for Plaques

Gloss is the shiniest coating.

Mounting Methods

How you will mount your plaque is also a decision you must make. It is a function of where you will ultimately place the plaque. Most mounting methods can accommodate a blind mount (in which there are no holes going all the way through your plaque. Blind mount just has bosses and studs on the plaque's back so that hardware can be inserted from behind.Mounting Methods for Plaques

For certain walls, however, you can choose 4 corner holes in your plaque and hardware that goes from front to back accordingly. You can get hardware to match your mounting material. For mounting onto Wood, you can get the wood screws as hardware. For mounting on a hollow wall (assuming you can access the back) there is special hardware with toggle bolts. And, for a solid wall mount, you would get machine screws and hardware.

To cover the hardware over the holes, you can get standard rosettes if you want them. We recommend the true rosette (R-5) for outdoor plaques because the others are just affixed to the plaque with sealant. Eventually they will come off.

Even More Variations

We do not go into all of the choices that you can have for your plaque. You may want a different shape. Or a different border.
This article has just concentrated on the most common specifications for plaques. Call us or email for your specific requests and ask us to write an estimate.