How Are Metal Address Plaques Engraved?

Metal address plaques are the perfect combination of simplicity and appealing aesthetics. They're sophisticated, durable, and the best way to display your house number or entire street address. But how are metal address plaques engraved and cut?

Our priority at Modern House Numbers is to utilize the best techniques for engraving your address plaques. To show how dedicated we are to engraving house numbers, we’ve decided to walk you through two different processes used to make address plaques and give you a behind-the-scenes peek at our favorite method. 

How Are Metal Address Plaques Engraved

 Image by Modern House Numbers

How Are Metal Address Plaques Engraved?

What tools are used for address plaques engraving depends on which of the engraving methods are used. The techniques also differ according to the material that is being engraved. For instance, the engraving methods for solid metal are not the same as for other materials. So, what are the processes of engraving and cutting metal address plaques?

There are two methods typically employed by companies to get the job done. The first is laser engraving. The second process, and the one we use at modern house numbers, is waterjet cutting.

Let's talk a bit about each of these techniques.

Laser Engraving

Laser engraving uses a a high-energy beam of light to make the address markings on the aluminum plaque. 

Digging deeper into the tools for laser engraving, there are three options laser engravers use to create an address plaque:

Laser engraving has several disadvantages to waterjet cutting, which is why we prefer the latter. These disadvantages include:

Durability - Laser engraving, while precise and appealing, isn't exactly known for its longevity. It's susceptible to environmental factors, such as rain, sunlight, or even dust, that can cause the engraved details to fade or become less visible over time

Design Limitations - With laser engraving, you're limited to designs that can be effectively etched by the machine. This means complex, intricate patterns may not be possible, and you might be stuck with simpler, less personalized designs.

Higher Cost - You're not only paying for the engraving itself but also for the machinery and technology involved. This high tech process often comes with a hefty price tag which can influence the final cost of your address plaque.

Waterjet Cutting Address Plaques

A high-pressure waterjet is used in this process. It's incredibly powerful, cutting through even the toughest metals with ease. But it's also precise, capable of creating intricate details and perfect edges.

Waterjet Cutting Address Plaques

Image by Waterjetter09, CC BY-SA 3.0

The waterjet doesn't warp or distort the metal like traditional cutting methods can. So, you're left with a plaque that's not just sturdy, but also flawlessly crafted and beautiful. That's the magic of precision cutting.

The Role of High-Pressure Waterjet Technology in Address Plaque Manufacturing

In detailing your design, you'll find that high-pressure jet technology plays a crucial role as it allows for an extremely accurate and clean finish. This technology uses a stream of water so powerful that it can cut through even the toughest metals with precision. Imagine having the power of a waterfall at your fingertips, but directed with the accuracy of a laser beam. That's what waterjet cutting technology offers.

It's the fine detailing that sets a metal address plaque apart. The intricate patterns and letters are all perfectly cut, thanks to this high-pressure jet. And because it's water, there's no risk of the metal overheating or warping. You're left with a perfect finish every time.

Why Does Modern House Numbers We Prefer Waterjet Cutting to Laser Engraving?

There are three simple reasons Modern House Numbers prefers waterjet cutting to laser engraving.

1. Versatility of Materials - While we use aluminum for all of our custom address plaques, the ability of waterjet cutting to work with multiple material types, makes it an ideal choice when we add new materials to our product list.

2. Cost-Effectiveness - Waterjet cutting is a superior cutting method that allows us to provide top-tier quality without passing on additional costs to the customer.

3. Efficiency and Precision Application - Waterjet cutting allows us to cut intricate designs with the utmost accuracy. Unlike laser engraving, it doesn't rely on heat, so there's no chance of distortion or warping.

Metal Address Plaques Step by Step

When you order a custom address plaque from Modern House Numbers, there are a number of steps involved to ensure your final plaque meets our high standards. Here is how we make the magic happen in Modern House Numbers.

  • Order receiving and design preparation

After receiving your order, our design team will assess it and prepare the design. We use top-tier graphic design software and ensure the design format is compatible with the one our waterjet cutter uses.

In the designing process, we take into consideration your custom requirements. We will make the address numbers design according to the choices you make while ordering, which include:

  • Preparing the material

After our designers make the design spotless, we move on to preparing the aluminum. Although it doesn’t take long, it is vital to clean the material because it ensures a seamless engraving process. 

Water Cutting Metal Address Plaques Step by Step
Image by Modern House Numbers

We double-check the material for imperfections. When the aluminum is smooth, we can continue with the next step.

  • Waterjet cutting the plaque

The main part of the process is the setup of the waterjet cutter and engraving. We dial in the settings of the waterjet cutter according to the design and plaque characteristics to precisely cut your custom design.

Then, we import the design and proceed with the cutting. Once the waterjet cutting is completed, we clean it from debris and residue.

  • Applying finish

The last step of how are metal address plaques engraved is sealing the address plaque with several coats of UV protectant and applying the finish. When making your order, you can choose between five finishes:

With the exception of the brushed aluminum, the finishes are powder coat finishes. They can withstand harsh conditions, which makes them much more durable than painted plaques some companies offer. By getting an address plaque made by us, you will get a product that is resistant to typical wear and tear.

After applying the finish, we do multiple quality checks as your plaque is processed through shipping. This redundancy virtually guarantees your plaque meets our (and your) high standards.

How Long Does It Typically Take to Waterjet Cut a Metal Address Plaque?

Now that it’s clear how are metal address plaques created, you might be wondering how long the process takes. Well, at Modern House Numbers, the production time is typically 10 business days, starting from the day we receive your order.

On top of the production time, you should expect your timeless engraved aluminum address plaque to arrive within two to five working days if you live in the USA. If you live outside the USA, you should have your custom signage within 10 to 12 business days.

In the package, you will get the following items:

  • Personalized plaque from recycled aluminum
  • 2-inch steel studs
  • ½ inch aluminum spacers
  • Drilling template
  • Installation instructions 
How Long Does It Typically Take to Engrave a Metal Address Plaque


Image by Modern House Numbers


Knowing how metal address plaques are engraved and waterjet cut can help you understand why they are durable. We always do our best to take your address numbers to the next level by using high-quality aluminum.

Use our website to customize your home address plaque, and order now! We ship both nationally and internationally. Don’t hesitate and order a modern plaque that will give a fresh look to your house.

Picture of the Author

rick mclain, author

Rick is a licensed architect at Repp McLain Design & Construction. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona and an MS from the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). When he’s not designing and fabricating he enjoys spending time with Brandy, Jack, Avery & Taylor and restoring his grandfather’s Ford pickup truck. Learn more about Rick on LinkedIn.

You can learn more about Rick on the Repp McLain Website, on LinkedIn, at the AIA Website, or on Facebook.

You may also be interested in:
Introducing Our Latest Innovation: Contrast Plates for your Plaques!

Introducing Our Latest Innovation: Contrast Plates for your Plaques!

Modern House Numbers is now offering contrast plates as an upgrade to your address plaque. Available in black or white, contrast plates are designed to slide behind your plaque to enhance visibility and extend viewing distance, while also adding a stylish detail to your plaque.  Created from durable high-density polyethylene, our contrast plates are engineered to withstand the elements. To...

VoyagePhoenix: Exploring Life & Business with Brandy McLain of Modern House Numbers

VoyagePhoenix: Exploring Life & Business with Brandy McLain of Modern House Numbers

Co-owner and co-founder of Modern House Numbers, Brandy McLain, is interviewed in a recent article in VoyagePhoenix Magazine where she shares the inspiration behind her family-run business, the challenges and lessons she's learned along the way, and what sets Modern House Numbers apart from the competition.  Upon completion of the re-landscaping of her first home, Brandy was on the hunt...