Enamel House Signs Vs Acrylic House Signs


House Signage for Suburban Living

House signs are often an overlooked element in interior design. At first, they appear to be a small and minor detail, often dismissed as being boring or irrelevant, but at a further glance, you will see that it is quite the opposite. 

Enamel Signs House NumbersThe classic design phrase ‘form follows function’ coined by American architect Louis Sullivan in 1896 can so easily be applied to house sign design. First, it is important to consider the function of the sign, then begin to think about the materials and design. The basic function of all house signs is to identify the name and number of the property, however, that is not the only function that a house sign has. They also have to be weatherproof, long-lasting, vandalism proof and of course, display the personality of the homeowner. All of a sudden, house signs appear to be more complex than many dared to imagine.  

With ‘curb appeal’ being the buzzword du jour amongst the design-savvy, you can be sure that house signs are high up on their list of must-have items to create an Instagram worthy entranceway. However, a simple Google search for ‘House Signs’ will reveal over one billion two hundred forty million results showing anything from enamel house signs, acrylic house signs, to the more traditional slate house signs. With such a demand for personalised designs, it's hard to know where to begin when choosing the right sign for your dwelling.

Enamel and Acrylic are two of the most common materials, each offering a wealth of benefits. However, when deciding on which to go for, it is important to understand exactly which type of house number sign you are looking for.

What is an Enamel House Sign?

During the 1800s when Europe was experiencing an industrial boom, cities commissioned the production of enamel signage to highlight street names and building numbers. Ultramarine blue was the most popular colour used at the time and has since become the iconic look for traditional enamel signs. From their appearance on grand Spanish ‘Ramblas’ to the most majestic ‘Avenue’ in the city of Paris, enamel signs offer a long-lasting elegance and finesse. 


Metropolitan Collection Enamel Sign

How Are Enamel Signs Produced? 

The production of an enamel sign requires great skill and creativity. It is a timeless craft that has been industrialised and adapted for mass production. However, today more than ever, the process has returned back to its artisan roots.  

An enamel sign begins life as a sheet of metal, usually steel, that is cut and filed to its desired shape. This is then hammered down to give it a gentle arching or perhaps to add flanges to the edges. Holes are added for the screw fittings and the corners are hammered flat. Next, the enamel pigmentation is prepared with great care and then spray painted onto the metal plate before being transferred into a kiln where it is fired at temperatures up to 820ºC. This makes the glass particles fuse together onto the metal plate to create the base layer of colour. Once the base layer sets, further layers of enamel can be applied to build up a rich, intense colour. Once the desired shade has been reached, the stencils are removed and routine quality checks take place to make sure that each sign meets the high standards required by the master craftsmen. It is a labour-intensive process that creates a long-lasting, classic product. 

Production of Enamel Signs

What is an Acrylic House Sign? 

This plastic fantastic version of the traditional house sign catapults us into the 21st century giving our houses a modern, sleek facelift. Made from a clear polymer material such as Plexiglas®, Lucite®, Acrylite®, Crylux® or Perspex®, acrylic house signs are perhaps one of the most versatile sign styles due to their endless customisation options. They can be designed to mimic nearly any material from glass, enamel or even slate. However, unlike natural materials, the acrylic is prone to weathering, has a shorter lifespan and lacks the tactile nature that the other signs have. 

Acrylic Signage Benefits

How Are Acrylic Signs Produced? 

Acrylic signs are produced by machines in an industrial process involving UV printing. The plastic sheet is cut to size and the edges are either left unfinished (to give a frosted appearance) or finished (to give a smooth appearance). The UV ink used in acrylic sign production is specially formulated so that it doesn’t fade in sunlight. The desired colour is then printed onto the sign, either onto the front or back depending on the required finish and purpose of the sign. Printing on the front of the sign is what is considered as a ‘standard’ finish and this gives the sign a smooth, matte look. However, care has to be taken when using this method as the surface is prone to scratching and this will damage the colour. When printing on the back of the sign, the colour appears richer and more intense and takes on a glossy appearance. It is also not prone to scratching in the same way that colour printed on the front of a sign is. 


The Battle of the Signs

While any sign, either enamel or acrylic, will provide you with the basic function of identifying your property, it is important to consider the unique benefits of each style. These slight differences could be deal-breakers depending on the property you are looking to furnish. 

Each one of us, deep down, desires to live or work in a property that is visually appealing. Aesthetics play a huge part in our day to day and this extends to every inch of our living space. What we choose to place in our homes forms part of our visual identity and therefore it is an extension of our personality. We crave social acceptance and to be viewed by others as the epitome of good taste. 

So, in order to make an informed decision about which style of house sign works best for you, it is important to closely analyse the pros and cons of both enamel and acrylic signs. 


Enamel Signs 

Acrylic Signs

Does Not Fade Under UV Light

Scratch Resistant 

Weather Resistant 

Can Survive Intense Heat

Will Last 30+ Years

Quick Production 

Based on the table of qualities above, tradition beats innovation. However, it is important to consider the needs and requirements of the consumer. If a consumer has an ultra-modern villa and is looking for an engraved, clear sign then an enamel sign is clearly not going to be a good option for them. Likewise, if someone was looking for a sign that would last for generations and become an heirloom item, then an acrylic sign is also ruled out of the considerations. 

How to Choose the Best Material for Your House Number? 

So after spending hours deliberating which light fittings create the perfect ambience in your lounge and which shade of buttercream white your kitchen should be painted, it is time to turn the focus to exteriors. There is no point making the interior of your property look like something from the pages of Elle Decoration if the outside looks as inviting as a limp lettuce leaf. 

When scrolling through the 235k+ porches featured under the Instagram hashtag #ihavethisthingwithdoors, one thing stands out. A common feature among them all is that they all display an eye-catching house number. Be it painted onto the facade of the property, carved into wood or a glossy metal nameplate, each property displays their number loud and proud. Just like a cherry on top of a cake, the house sign adds an elegant finishing touch to property while boosting it’s curb appeal tenfold. 

Signage for Period Property

Period Properties

From picture-postcard country cottages, sophisticated, luxury townhouses to majestic castles, each period property has a story to tell. Their facades have been witnesses to major historic events and often carry the battle scars as proof. This type of property is a constant project and any developer’s dream come true, especially if the period features are maintained. Often retaining, or growing in value, period property is something to be celebrated. 

Indulge in the heritage of the property and customise a whimsical style enamel sign, in keeping with the colour scheme of the exterior. Not only will it be aesthetically more appropriate but the sign will also last a lifetime without any signs of damage or wear. This means that despite the sign being new, the whole style harks back to the golden age of industrialisation in the 1800s and could be considered to be an original feature (depending on the construction dates of your property). 

Aside from historical accuracy, the handmade element of enamel signs is a big selling point for owners of period properties. Each enamel sign is carefully hand stencilled by highly skilled craftsmen giving them a beautiful quirkiness that gently reflects the often bold personalities of older dwellings. 

Modern Architecture 

Minimalist, stark, brutal, boxy - the list of adjectives to describe modern architecture is endless. There is an exciting, ‘anything goes’ element to this architectural style that makes it one of the most versatile to embrace. Really, the possibilities are endless! 

One thing that most modern buildings have in common, however, is their lack of colour. They are a geometrical unity of white, chrome, beige, brick and black. Any deviation from this is uncommon and if done, the building is deemed to be, positively or negatively, a ‘black sheep’ by the design world. This creates two possibilities for signage - minimalism or contrast. 

While enamel signs are limited to the colours available in the enamel pigments, acrylic signs can be printed with almost any colour under the sun. Choosing a glossy bright, zesty coloured acrylic sign for the wall of an ultra-modern villa shows a playful personality while oozing confidence. It says ‘We take design seriously, and want to be recognised for it’. 

Contrast can also be achieved with the combination of traditional fixtures on a modern backdrop. A sleek and glossy enamel sign in a deep ultramarine blue could beautifully offset the angular, monotone harshness of a modern home. Creating a softness within modern architecture allows the building to shift from being a stark show home to a warm and welcoming family house. 


At the End of the Day, Design Reigns Supreme… 

Modern House Design

Just like with any design decision, it is so easy to deliberate for hours on end about the pros and cons of each choice. However, sometimes it is just best to sit back and let your house do the talking. Treating your house as a blank canvas will allow you to analyse the building both structurally and as well as visually. 

When thinking about which house sign to add to your facade the key things to remember are: 

- The sign's materials and style should fit the building it is placed on

- Distance from the viewer  - is it legible? Will it be seen from the road and most importantly, by the emergency services?

- Will the sign survive the weather conditions subjected to it

- A sign must stand out from its background - think about colours

- Does the sign reflect your personality?  

Ultimately, the concept of ‘form follows function’ still rings true for the humble house sign. With it being a mandatory addition to houses in many countries, it is important to choose one that is aesthetically pleasing. With a wealth of designs available, you can rest assured that your house sign will add the stylish finishing touch that you desire for your property. 

About Ramsign

At Ramsign, we specialize in the fabrication of hand stencilled enamel signs. Through our interactive personalisation process, it is possible to create a custom sign which then gets sent to our master craftsmen. The sign is produced using traditional, authentic methods to maintain high standards. Discover our premium signage solutions today. 

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