One of the best ways to customize a project is to select a specialty finish; they can be applied to essentially any element on a job and can completely change the look of a space.  But there is more than just what meets the eye – literally – when considering the use of custom finishes on a job.

From matching metals to extended lead times to, of course, cost implications, there are a myriad of different ways that finish selections can impact a project.  So how do you know which to choose?

Let’s discuss some of the most important factors in specialty finish selection that can help make your next job a success.



Specialty Framing Finishes

With aluminum framing, finishes are most often offered as anodized, which is a chemically-applied finish that not only changes the appearance of the metal but also makes it more durable.  The longer aluminum is left in the anodizing bath, the darker the color will get, allowing for anodized finishes from “clear” and light champagne all the way to black.

Painted finishes are often available for aluminum framing systems as well, but are often more susceptible to scratching during construction and throughout a lifetime of use.

Certain systems can offer other, even more specialty finishes depending on their manufacturer.  The Arch Street Glass line of Modernus systems are available in a diverse range of custom metal anodized finishes, from satin and polished stainless looks to brasses, coppers, and more.

Modernus also provides the unique ability to wrap their framing systems in a real wood veneer, creating a stunning millwork effect combined with the minimal aesthetic provided by a metal frame.



Hardware Matching

Once you have chosen a finish for the main framing system on a job, it may seem like the major decision-making has been done – just match the rest!  Sometimes, though, the process is not that easy.

Because door hardware like ladder pulls and locksets are often made of a more durable metal like steel, they can pick up finishes differently and have different available standards.  Even if a finish sounds like it should be the same [and even if it uses the same name], the actual look can vary between products and manufacturers.

A good example of this is oil-rubbed bronze hardware, which can range anywhere from a golden bronze to almost black depending on the source.

If matching frame and hardware finishes is important to your project, look for either a standard frame finish that has easily-matched accessories, or confirm that you are using hardware and a hardware manufacturer that can provide specialty items, such as anodized aluminum ladder pulls in lieu of steel or custom matched finishes.


Specialty Glazing

A great way to exercise custom finish choices is by making use of specialty glazing as accents in high-traffic or otherwise impactful locations.  Specialty glass is often seen in elevator lobbies, reception areas, and conference rooms, but it can be used virtually anywhere on a job – from a backsplash in a kitchen area to a markerboard in an individual office.

Similarly, the capabilities of custom glazing can range from simple back-painted glass applications to complicated multi-layered designs.

Such a vast array of glazing options available means that adding a specialty glass element is possible for almost any project.  Arch Street Glass offers consultations that focus on assisting designers through some of the traditionally complex aspects of incorporating custom glasswork, such as value engineering suggestions and size or weight concerns.


Other Considerations
We know that most projects are constrained by one or more limiting factors, whether it be lead time, budget concerns, or some combination of both.  The general rule of thumb is that the more “specialty” a finish is, the longer the lead time and the higher the cost, although there are cases where this does not hold true.
A significant corollary has to do with size; a very large job with a specialty finish can often better absorb one-time custom finish costs such as setup fees and allow manufacturers to exercise economies of scale, while a very small job with a similar finish request may end up with an exorbitant price per linear foot for those same reasons.

Want to talk more about finishes?  Have questions about hardware?  Wondering about custom interlayers?  Contact us.