How to Design a Custom Finish - 3 Building Blocks of Aluminum Decoration

Aluminum Finish Decoration - Beginning to End

This article is the first in a four part series on aluminum decoration.  In this article, I will offer insights into the steps involved in designing a custom aluminum finish.  Aluminum is a versatile substrate which can be decorated in an endless array of finishes.  This is a quick checklist for reference when developing a new surface or pattern. 

Aluminum Finish Design Checklist 

Consider these questions as you begin the design process:

  1. What is the overall feel or mood of the finish?
  2. What type of structure will it be?
  3. Will the finish be overall?
  4. Will the structure be applied selectively or in combination with other finishes?
  5. Will the pattern be developed to relate to the overall shape of the trim piece, evolving as it moves across the trim?
  6. Is movement and depth an important part of the structure?
  7. What color will the overall finish be? 
  8. Do you want a high contrast print?
  9. Will the finish be tone on tone?
  10. Will you incorporate texture into the structure?

Aluminum Finish Process Steps - The Building Blocks of Aluminum Decoration

There are many options available in the development of custom finishes on aluminum.  Simplifying the process into the most frequently used basic steps you get the following list:

  1. Brushing:
    overall or selective
    in one direction or multiple directions
  2. Printed Color:
    transparent tints
    opaque colors
  3. Texture
    clear or colored
    high or low gloss
    hard or soft

The basic processes are layered together to create a finish.  All of these process steps are optional.  A structure might rely on only one of the steps to create a finish or a combination of two of the steps.  All three steps can be used in combination to create endless finishes.   

Brushing, a mechanical process which abrades the surface of the metal, is the first step in the decoration process.  A printed resist or mask protects areas of the metal during the brushing process allowing a combination of bright and brushed aluminum.  Printed color is the next step in the decoration process.  It can be a simple overall tint of color or a complex layering of multiple colors to create finishes with depth and complexity.  Texture is the final step in the decorative process. 

Explore each of the process steps in the following articles. 

How to Add Depth and Movement to a Finish - Understanding Options in Brushing on Aluminum
How to Add Color to an Aluminum Finish - Options in Printing on Metal
How to Add a Tactile Dimension to Aluminum Finishes - Choices in Textures

Request samples of aluminum finishes to begin exploring the possibilities available to you in design custom finishes on aluminum.