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Brass or Bronze letters in concrete?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by Andy D, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

    Oct 20, 2014
    Hattiesburg, MS
    I have a college that wants to install 4' bronze letters flush into concrete flooring outside & it will be walked on. They have already approved my original insane quote for 4' cast bronze letters, but they never told me where and how they were going to install these letters.

    I want to get them the best product for the best price & I think Cast letters are overkill, so I'm thinking 1/2" plate cut.
    I know aluminum reacts to concrete, but what about brass or bronze?
    Which would wear better? I know Bronze will turn to a duranodic color, not sure about brass.
    I'm looking for input/advise on metal type and anything else.
  2. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

    Oct 20, 2014
    Hattiesburg, MS
    Also, they don't want any finish that need to be maintained, so just raw...
    I'm thinking no type of textured would be best - instead of brushed or polished.
  3. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    I would think bronze. I have seen old bronze markers in sidewalks. But I would talk to the fabricator, they are the experts.
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  4. ams

    ams Very Active Member

    Oct 28, 2010
    You aren't going to be able to hurt cast bronze or brass. 1/4" would be fine or a maximum of 3/8". If you don't use cast and go with a hollow and a piece of heavy equipment rolls over like a scissor lift, it's probably going to ruin it. Don't forget to mention to them that after a few years it's going to get a Patina on it.
  5. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

    Oct 20, 2014
    Hattiesburg, MS
    Not sure what you mean, cast letters are hollow, that why I'm thinking routed plate letters.
  6. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    Bronze is harder than brass. I'd choose bronze. Bronze, of course, darkens with age, but depending on the foot traffic, it may actually keep its shine because of the polishing that comes from walking on it.
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  7. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

    Jan 2, 2010
    Mitten State
    You're well below the rustbelt, but consider the potential of any ice melt they may need to use. Ice melt mixtures are a lot harsher than sodium chloride.

    Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride tend to wreak extreme havoc on ground mounted metals such as bronze plaques and inset lettering as you mention.

    Typically, these ice melters are also mixed with sand which will create an abrasive slurry that will also do a number on the bronze.

    Stainless would be ideal, but may not provide the contrast you need.

    Also, make sure you have studs mounted to the lettering, otherwise freeze/thaw cycles will make them come loose (expansion differential). Ideally, the letters should have a minimum of 1/8" border between the concrete with silicone in between.

    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
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  8. Sign Works

    Sign Works Very Active Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Sacramento, CA
    I sold a contractor 1/4" flat cut bronze letters from Gemini for this exact application. Gemini provides info sheet explaining that the polished letters are coated with polyurethane to protect against the elements & oxidation, I passed this along to the customer along with verbal instructions regarding the protective coating. They did a great job on the install but the following day I watched a foreman scratching concrete off at the edge of the letters and in doing so started scratching off the protective polyurethane coating so in his wisdom he took it upon himself to remove all the protective polyurethane coating, sure enough months later the bronze letters are fully oxidized and look like crap.
  9. Martin Denton

    Martin Denton Member

    Aug 17, 2017
    Manchester, UK
    I'm no expert on the metals and their respective benefits but my one comment is that many Cathedrals in the UK have brass rubbings and plates mounted into the floors that go back many centuries and apart from the wear they get from people carrying out rubbings on them they still look great
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  10. MikePro

    MikePro Major Contributor

    Feb 3, 2010
    Racine, WI
    we just did this recently with multiple sets of letters.... 1/2" plate with threaded studs & matching bottom 1/8" aluminum "baseplate" to hold the letter pattern. Assemble onsite, lay in the ground, cement it in. had a bit of an issue regarding our letters requiring a painted finish, which got beat-up by the masons, but that's what touch-up paint is for!

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