Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
There are several common questions we hear when assisting clients. Since these questions present useful knowledge for any plaque buyer, we’ve gathered them here. If there’s a question we’ve missed, send us an email at email@example.com or call Christie, Regina or Liz at 951-698-8484 and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
- How do I decide what kind of plaque to order? There are so many options.
- How do I go about getting an estimate or quote from you?
- What is the order process?
- What file formats do I need to provide when ordering a sign?
- What is a proof and how do I approve it?
- Why do I need to look at a proof if I’ve already given you everything I need to have done?
- Do you offer a quantity discount?
- How long does it take to create my plaque?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of HDU signs compared to wood plaques?
- I have my own ideas on sign shape, font style, and art that are not included on your web site. Can you use these to design and build a plaque for me?
- Should I select 2.5-D flat relief art or 3-D bas-relief sculptured artwork on my plaque?
- How big should my plaque be? What criteria should I use to select a shape?
- How do I care for my plaque so it lasts and continues to look good?
- What if do not like my plaque after I receive it? Can I get my money back?
How do I decide what kind of plaque to order? There are so many options.
We consult with every client, asking important questions to help the client decide on an appropriate, attractive plaque. Details regarding location, budget, viewing distance, height above the floor, nearby decor and furniture style, and lighting conditions all play a role, so if we have this information our Customer Service representatives will provide suggestions on an appropriate design. Usually clients have a style of plaque in mind when they contact us. For example, clients from Federal courts usually prefer bronze or brass plated plaques, which have considerable dignity. Mahogany wood plaques are often selected for nautical settings and high-end clubs. Police and sheriff plaques are selected to look similar to their gold, silver , brass or aluminum badges. Full color plaques are usually selected to match the color of their seals, crests, or logos by military units, Federal departments & agencies , and counties and cities. The National Park Service likes natural wood plaques, especially cedar, redwood and oak.Sports teams and corporations select full color plaques with their logos as artwork.
Getting a preliminary estimate or a quote is simple, even if you are not sure what you want your plaque to look like. Just go to the Get a Quote page, fill out the form and click on submit. Or, you can call us at 951-698-8484 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives will be pleased to help you. Preliminary inquiries or requests for planning cost or schedule estimates are welcome.
What is the order process?
Ordering is simple after you know what you want your sign to look like. Just go to the Place an Order page, fill out the form with your credit card info and shipping address, and click on submit. OR, you can call us at 951-698-8484 or email us at email@example.com and our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives will be please to help you. . You can also send a check after you are informed of the exact price, instead of using a Credit Card. We do not start production on your sign until we receive a check or valid Credit Card number (except for some commercial or Government customers where we accept a PO number).
What file formats do I need to provide when ordering a sign?
We prefer being sent a vector file that is in Adobe Illustrator, EPS, or extended PFD (with underlying vector file) format. usually these are available if a graphic artist has created a line drawing of a seal, a badge, a crest or an emblem you want made into a dimensional carved plaque.
However, in many cases, a vector file is not available, but there is a photo or an image of a sketch in a raster image (i.e., pixel or bit-map) format such as JPEG, PNG, GIF or TIFF. You can send us a file in this format, and our graphic designers will then use this image to create a vector drawing in Adobe Illustrator. This may require tracing the main features of the image. Usually there is no additional charge to do this, unless the raster image you supply is very detailed and complex, when we must charge a nominal fee.
What is a proof and how do I approve it?
A proof is the colored drawing and specifications (e.g., dimensions, layout, text,, relief type ,color designations, mounting hardware, etc) of your plaque. It allows you to review the layout and design of your sign digitally or in print, and request desired changes before we physically create your plaque. There may be up to 5 iterations on your proof, each of which you review and request design modifications, and we will prepare a modified proof incorporating these changes, ending with submission of the final Production proof.
A PRODUCTION PROOF is the final colored drawing and specifications of your plaque before we put into production, which goes to the production team and travels with the plaque for each stage of the production. It may also include a photo of a similar finished plaque. We ask that you formally approve the Production Proof before we start making your plaque, by sending us a short informal email (i.e., Proof XYX dated "abc" is approved") or by signing the proof at the bottom electronically, or by a scanning and emailing us scanned copy of a physically signed copy to us.
WE MAKE THE FINISHED PLAQUE EXACTLY THE WAY THE PRODUCTION PROOF SPECIFIES. After the client approves the final production proof, any changes directed by the client will result in increased fees and delays in schedule . It is essential that the client careful review the Production Proof before approving it, including design features such as spelling , background texture, color schemes, raised vs engraved, etc.
Why do I need to look at a proof if I’ve already given you everything I need to have done?
Simply put, humans, even our craftsmen, make mistakes. By reviewing your proof, you can ensure that our team handled every detail exactly how you want it. Misunderstandings and crossed signals happen at every business. This is our way of saving the time and money that mistakes can cost. It is also our way of documenting that you have carefully reviewed and approved the final Production Proof, and that it is correct in every detail. We make your plaque EXACTLY like the Production Proof, and it is much faster and less expensive to correct the proof than to fix or make a new plaque, if the plaque turns out different than you wanted it to look.
Do you offer a quantity discount?
We do give quantity discounts for orders of 3 or more identical plaques, or 10 or more very similar plaques.
How long does it take to create my plaque?
Our typical production time is 4 to 5 weeks, depending on our backlog. Times are shorter in the winter than spring and summer, when our work load is highest. This production time is measured from the time a final proof is APPROVED by the client in writing (via email) AND a 50% deposit it received by Credit Card or check, which starts the production process, until the day the plaque(s) is shipped, and the remaining 50% of the price has been paid. Shipping by ground UPS typically takes 1 to 5 days, and is in addition to the production period of 4 weeks. The period between the time a design is requested (usually started with a $30 deposit, which is credited towards the price of the plaque, if it is ordered), and the time the final proof is approved is called the design time, and this can take from 2 days to several weeks, depending on how many iterations the client requests on the plaque's design, and how long the client takes to review and respond on changes he/she may want on the design. The entire process (design, production, shipping) typically takes 5 to 6 weeks.
We do have expedited production times ( as short as 2 weeks rather than 4 weeks) at a substantial additional fee (we have to pay overtime) sometimes, but this is not something we do routinely.The absolute minimum time it takes to make a finished plaque is 2 weeks, because it takes a week to carve and sand the plaque and over a week to paint and dry multiple coats of paint or stain on a carved plaque.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of HDU signs compared to wood plaques?
For indoor plaques, the difference is primarily cosmetic appearance. High-Density-Urethane plaques must be either painted, metal-plated, or gold or silver leaf gilded. Wood plaques are normally stained (or left natural) and clear-coated. Choice is purely a matter of stylistic preference; either material will last for centuries when the plaque is mounted indoors and is not subject to the weather and temperature extremes. Wood, particularly African Mahogany, has a warm, natural look to it, whereas HDU has either a bright, bold look if it is painted, or a shiny, metallic, sleek look if it is metal-plated. For plaques or signs that are mounted outdoors, HDU is superior to wood because it requires less maintenance and has a longer lifetime than those made of wood. It also costs less. however, we do make a few natural wood plaques that are mounted on outdoor walls. They must have be clear-coated every one or two years if they are exposed to severe weather.
I have my own ideas on sign shape, font style, and art that are not included on your web site. Can you use these to design and build a plaque for me?
Yes, of course. Every one of our plaques is 100% custom designed and built. If you have a plaque shape, a font style, artwork, or a color scheme not shown in our photo Galleries, and you can convey the name or a picture of it, we will make a design that incorporates your specifications. Every one of our designs is custom, including all of those shown in the photo galleries. We work collaboratively with our clients, incorporating your preferences and ideas into your plaque's design.
Should I select 2.5-D flat relief art or 3-D bas-relief sculptured artwork on my plaque?
This is a basically a matter of style and personal preference; one is not "better" than the other, and they may be equally effective in attracting attention. Two and a half--dimensional (2.5-D) flat-relief art can be bold, easily recognizeable, and highly stylized (like a logo, a symbol, and decorative designs), whereas three-dimensional (3-D) sculptured bas-relief art, is more realistic, contains more detail, and often (but not always) has more blended colors. To appreciate 3-D art, it should be viewed fairly closely (5 - 10 ft away) by a viewer, whereas 2.5-D plaques can be viewed from further away and still be effective. Some of the 2-D artwork (e.g., line drawings) we are provided by the client ( for example the military crest of an Air Force or Army unit), does not lend itself well to developing a 3-D bas-relief model; other times the 2-D artwork provided to us should be converted to a 3-D model by one of our 3-D graphic artists to look good.
Some of the Federal Government's Executive Departments (e.g., DoD, Dept. of State, Dept. of Veterans Affairs) should be carved in 3-D to look realistic, others with very simple stylized seals (e.g., Dept. of Health and Human Service, Dept. of Housing & Urban Development. Department of Transportation) should be carved in 2.5-D to give the same visual effect as the 2-D seal.
We carve 2.5-D art by CNC flat surface routing, sometimes using 4 or 5 levels, whereas 3-D bas-relief must be made using our computer-controlled 3-D routers or occasionally by hand-carving. 3-D art is more expensive, but if "off-the-shelf" 3-D model files are used because we have made that plaque previously (these are displayed in a photo Gallery), the price difference is smaller. Custom 3-D designs, which require new software models or hand-carving, are 40% to 60% more expensive than 2.5-D designs.
How big should my plaque be? What criteria should I use to select a shape?
Plaque size can be determined by either (1) limitations due to sign mounting or installation, or (2) requirements for viewing. If you are going to mount your plaque on a podium, the plaque should be quite small (typically 16 to 12 inches wide), If it is on a wall in an office or hallway, a typical size is 18 inches to 24 inches wide. Plaques that are mounted in lobbies, conference rooms, and courtrooms range have widths that range from 24 inches to 48 inches. Plaques that are mounted in auditoriums, gymnasiums, or on the outside walls of buildings or large entrance signs have typical sizes of 60 inches to 120 inches (10 ft), or even more. We make custom plaques and signs up to 25 feet wide.
As far a shape goes, we generally make wall plaques the same shape as the seal, crest, emblem, or badge that the plaque will feature. Most seals are round, and most crests , logos and badges have irregular shapes, and some are quite ornate. Since all our designs are 100% custom, we can make any size and shape plaque.
How do I care for my plaque so it lasts and continues to look good?
Indoor plaques require no maintenance, other than dusting once every few months. They will last for decades without degradation. Outdoor painted HDU plaques may not require any maintenance for 10 years or more, depending on the severity of the climate and whether they have any protection from the weather. All our painted HDU plaques, both indoor and outdoor, use moisture proof, UV protective and graffiti-resistant Matthews automotive-quality acrylic polyurethane color and clear coat paints for coatings. Any maintenance, if required, usually consists of applying a new coat of Matthews MAP clear. Wood signs, when place outdoors in severe climates or the full sun, may require a new coat of MAP every year or two. Plaques should not be installed where a sprinkler waters them frequently. All our outdoor and indoor plaques, both painted and wood, have a warranty of 2 years, Our indoor wood, metal, and HDU, plaques , will last for many decades, even centuries, without degradation.
What if do not like my plaque after I receive it? Can I get my money back?
We have a proven process to ensure this does not happen, unless you change your mind on color, text, etc AFTER you approve the design and order the plaque. Our proofs are very realistic in terms of size, shape, text, artwork, and colors. We also often include photos of plaques similar to the one you have ordered so you can see realistic colors. Once you have approved the design and signed off on the Production Proof , we make the plaque exactly the same as the proof, so you will have no surprises. Often we take a photo of your completed plaque before we ship it, so if one of the colors is not quite right we can change it before shipping it.
If, despite these approvals by you, you do not like the plaque when you receive it, we cannot refund your money unless we have made an error and the plaque is significantly different from the Production Proof you approved. In that very rare case (because our QA officer inspects all plaques and compares them with their Production Proofs just before packing them up for shipment), we will cheerfully either refund all the money you have paid us we or make you another plaque with the error corrected and ship it to you at no cost to you. We do the same if your plaque is damaged during shipping; we carry insurance on all our shipments. . If you see damage to the package or the plaque when you receive it, call us immediately, so we can take appropriate action with the shipper.