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Everything You Need to Know About Architectural Finishes

Everything You Need to Know About Architectural Finishes

JUNE 26, 2020| SpeedPro

Have you ever stepped into the lobby of a business that looked absolutely stunning? It probably made you remember them more and associate them with a high-quality product. Maybe they had an eye-catching structural piece or a beautiful but simple stretch of wood paneling along the wall. Whatever they did, they likely used several architectural finishes to get there.

Architectural finishes cover a large variety of structures, designs and coatings. They can affect walls, floors, ceilings, beams, columns, staircases and more. Some of the materials they’re made of include wood, stone, metal and glass. With so many different options, just narrowing down your ideas for interior decoration can be difficult, let alone implementing them. To help clear things up, we’ve put together a guide on architectural finishes and what they really mean for your building.

What Is an Architectural Finish?

What is an architectural finish?

The phrase “architectural finish” encompasses a wide array of materials, styles and methods. Essentially, an architectural finish is an exposed part of a building that meshes the functional with the aesthetic. The architecture itself is functional, making up the building and serving whatever function that feature is meant to do. If it’s a pillar, it helps support the building. If it’s a window, it lets light in. The aesthetic part of the equation is the finish itself. Finishes include films and other covering materials like plaster or bricks. A designer might stain a stone wall to a darker color or etch a logo into glass for an elegant, classy piece of branding.

An architectural finish isn’t purely aesthetic or purely functional. It typically serves a useful function for many businesses while offering beautiful, eye-catching design. A finish could serve as a place to advertise or emphasize your company’s marketing. It might also help reduce energy consumption by insulating your building or minimizing sunlight that comes through the window and heats the office. Of course, they’re typically unique and beautiful, as well.

You might find an architectural finish on the walls, ceilings, floors, columns, windows and doors of a building. They can be applied to nearly any exposed surface inside or outside of a building. Some of the materials you could see on an architectural finish include:

  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Brick
  • Glass
  • Resin
  • Metal

Another common approach to getting the look of these materials without the cost or dealing with the construction is to use films that mimic their appearances, like a wood-grain decal or a “frosted” logo to put on a window.

Why Use Architectural Finishes?

Businesses use architectural finishes for a wide variety of reasons. Depending on how you use them, they can help you with reducing energy, increasing productivity and plenty more. From the aesthetic to the practical, they offer more benefits than you may think.

1. Improve the Look of the Building

Starting with the obvious, architectural finishes can be stunning. They add a creative element to your building and make it more aesthetically pleasing. Your lobby might be more enjoyable or memorable with a unique finish. People appreciate interesting architectural features, and they can help you impress your clientele. Emphasize your brand’s contemporary image by using sleek, modern features that fit the look. Or, if your brand is more relaxed and comfortable, you could use a rustic, earthy finish to bring it home. You could add a sense of elegance to your office with patterned walls in between the conference rooms.

2. Extend the Life of the Building

As parts of a building see use day in and day out, they start to wear down. An architectural finish can work as a refurbishment, covering up any unsightly blemishes or cosmetic damage. Many additions, like resin, bricks or cement textures, can simply go on top of existing structures. You get more use out of the wall or column than you would have if you had to tear it down to keep your building in good condition. Another way to extend the life of your structure is to modify it for a completely new use. Rebranding is the perfect reason to redo the appearance of your building.

3. Make Privacy Screens

One common use of architectural finishes is to increase privacy throughout the office. Glass-walled office spaces look classy and spacious, but they don’t offer much in the way of seclusion. Distraction is much easier to come by, and employees may find it harder to be comfortable if they think someone’s always watching them. One way to fix this is to implement privacy glass, with textures that diffuse the light or give a frosted appearance. These allow natural light to enter the space without letting other people look through. Plus, they’re unique and elegant — much more enjoyable than curtains.

4. Increase Brand Visibility

Consider a subtle etched logo

You can use films and colors to make your building ooze brand identification. Are your signature colors blue and white? Try alternating blue and white panes of glass across a stretch of windows. You don’t even necessarily have to buy stained glass to do this. If windows are already in place, you can use translucent films to add color. Another way to elegantly promote your brand is to use films or decals on your windows and walls. Consider a subtle etched logo on your glass entrance door or a mural across the wall in the lobby. You can use architectural finishes to get your brand in your visitors’ heads in a memorable way.

5. Reduce Energy Costs and Help Manage Lighting

If you’re like most businesses, you may be able to cut a third of your energy costs with better strategies that use natural light. Architectural finishes can help minimize electricity and heating costs by making the daylight more abundant and insulating your building. If you use frosted windows, you can better control the path of the light by diffusing it, creating less glare for employees. You can also use less electricity powering your lights with a sunlight-powered office that’s much more attractive than curtains or drapes. As for insulation, some finishing materials used on walls and windows can help keep the heat in or out, depending on the season.

6. They’re Easy to Care For

Most architectural finishes are practically part of the building. They won’t require any extensive or specialized care. Most glass modifications, for instance, can be cleaned just like glass with a standard cleaner.

Types of Architectural Finishes

Types of Architectural Finishes

Architectural finishing is a broad category, so there are plenty of different options. These include:

  • Metalwork: Sheets of metal can make attractive, industrial-looking siding or backdrops. With the different colors and treatments you can apply, they’re also more versatile than you might think. If you can get a talented architect or designer, sculptural features are always fascinating. These eye-catching additions can become a part of your existing architecture, such as a staircase or column. Metal creates a unique tone that adds a rustic or industrial feel to your building.
  • Brick and stone: For earthy tones, brick and natural stone are excellent ways to accentuate your building. Brick and stone are common outside and in. You can have a counter clad in pebbles for a historic exposed-aggregate look or an overhang decked in wide, white stone for something more understated and modern. This popular finish is also low-maintenance and durable, so you can rely on it for years to come. You can also stain brick to add unique colors and treatments.
  • Specialty paints: You can even consider a surface coating as simple as paint to be an architectural finish. Often, for commercial spaces, paint will have fungicidal properties and be easy to clean. Paint finishes include different levels of sheen that you may be familiar with from interior painting like eggshell, satin, semigloss and high gloss. Eggshell is common in office environments because it’s easier to clean, doesn’t create glare and doesn’t affect the wall’s texture. You can also use paint to create texture, such as popcorn walls or swirls.
  • Wood: With the wide variety of colors and finishes available, you can find paneling and accents that complement almost any decor. Typically, wood is warm and inviting, even in cool shades like gray. Natural shades full of contrasting grain and knots are available, alongside sleek, more uniform colors. You can add wood to counters, walls, floors, ceilings and many other surfaces. It also makes an excellent surface for furniture, like tables, benches and walkways.
  • Other materials: Many unique materials find their way into the world of architectural finishes. A wall coating made of layers of Venetian plaster is rising in popularity as a simple finish with depth. Resin marbled floors and exposed aggregate cement also make for unique options that add some artistic flair to a room.

Remember that for many of these, you can find products that mimic the results. Textured films or slim panels can go on top of your walls and fixtures to get you a mock-brick wall or something that looks like real timber. If you’re looking to save money, avoid renovation construction or cover an extensive area, these are worthwhile options.

Glass Architectural Finishes

Glass architectural finishes are incredibly popular and include many styles. Glass finishes include several effects that apply to glass, such as films that cover a piece of glass, surface coatings that impart certain effects and tints that infuse with the glass itself. At SpeedPro, the glass surface finishing options we develop include:

  • Glass films: Adhesive films apply to any smooth glass surface and offer a unique way to display your logo, text or patterns. They can add color to your doors, windows and glass walls. They are a versatile way to improve signage and increase branding around your office.
  • Frosted glass: Frosted glass is an elegant way to create privacy and opaqueness. It imbues the glass with a foggy, matte appearance, so you can only see vague, muddy shapes through it. The classic look of frosted glass works well in interior and exterior windows. You can get the look through etching, sandblasting or using films.
  • Satin glass: Satin glass is similar to frosted glass in that it also creates an opaque, foggy layer that is difficult to see through. It appears smoother with more of a matte finish. This style is easy to accomplish with a film, the thickness of which determines how opaque the finish is.
  • Reflective glass: We create a mirrored glass by infusing a layer of thin metal onto one side of the glass and sealing it all with a clear protective coating. With this approach, you can have a regular mirror or a one-way window with an intense metallic gloss and a high sheen. Reflective glass is a great way to make small rooms feel more spacious and add a sophisticated touch. Using reflective glass on the outside of a building can help you create a glazed façade.
  • Tinted glass: Add some color to your building with tinted glass. We add chemicals to glass to change the color and density of it. The process can also add protection from ultraviolet light and insulating properties. Tinted glass has impressive durability and won’t fade over time, making it great for indoor and outdoor use. Colored glass can help you increase the use of brand colors or brighten up your building. You could also darken the windows to keep bright sunlight at bay and help cool the building. An alternative to physically tinted glass that offers more flexibility is colored glass films. You can swap them out for versatile customization.
  • Etching: Our glass etching service applies acids, chemicals and other compounds onto the glass to impart certain designs onto the surface. These etched glass signs are often fine and detailed and can cut images or text as frosted glass onto a clear pane or vice versa.
  • Sandblasting: Sandblasting a pane of glass involves pelting it with small particles like sand to create the desired texture. This texture might be smooth, but often it is used to create ridges and waves in the glass.

Modifications to simple glass panes are an elegant, sophisticated way to add privacy and intrigue. Through all of the different methods and styles of glass finishing, you can incorporate them into almost any design you can come up with.

Architectural and Glass Finishes From SpeedPro

Whether it’s an office space, lobby, restaurant, salon or some other place of business, architectural and glass finishes can provide that final touch that makes your building shine. We can make an etched glass sign on the door or turn your clear glass office dividers into frosted ones for added privacy. With our versatile glass finish options, SpeedPro can help set your business up for success.

Working with SpeedPro also sets you up with a full-service print studio full of other signage products like decals, banners, directional signage and trade show displays. Each SpeedPro location provides quality materials and printing processes to companies across the nation. To see how architectural and glass surface finishing can work for your building, find your nearest SpeedPro studio and talk to a representative today.

Find a studio for your architectural and glass finish needs.

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