Design Guide & Design FAQs

We know the design process can be intimidating with questions like - 

What thickness of sign do I need?
What are these metal gauges you speak of?
What size of sign is most common?
What finishes and materials are available?
Can I really customize every part of my sign?

We created this design guide to help you understand the design process more easily so that you can feel confident when you order your custom metal sign.

Whether you are ordering a custom business sign, a ranch entrance piece, a unique gift for your husband, or a custom metal design for your home, this guide will help you have the knowledge you need to order with confidence.

These are 4 questions we would ask you to make sure you receive the metal sign or design that you have envisioned.

Step 1 - What size of sign do you want?

Size refers to all 3 dimensions - height, width, and thickness.

If your sign is indoors:

circle cowboy scene metal sign with personalized brand

Measure the area you are wanting to fill and we will make it that size - we are able to cut up to 6 foot by 12 foot single sheets.

Thickness recommendations - For a single-piece sign, 16 gauge (1/16") up to 14 gauge (5/64") are most common. For a double-piece sign (explained in step 2), 2 sheets of 16 gauge may be bolted together for a 1/8" thickness.

If your sign is outdoors:

ranch brand and metal address letter welded to fence

Measure the area you are wanting to fill and we will make it that size - we are able to cut up to 6 foot by 12 foot single sheets. Keep in mind that if this is a sign you would like to see from the road, err on the side of larger because if it is too small it will be difficult to read.

Take into consideration how far the sign will be from the road, what the speed limit is on that road, what its surroundings are, and the design you have in mind. For example, if the sign is welded on a fence 20 foot off of the 70 mph highway with only your name, those letters should be at least 10" tall to see well. If they are on a sign with other graphics and your address, take this into consideration for the size. Where as if the sign is going on a mailbox right by the 30 mph side street you can have the lettering be 3-4" tall.

Thickness recommendations for outdoor signs
14 gauge (5/64") - 
hanging on a patio secured to the wall, hanging on a door where wind isn't a concern
10 gauge (9/64") - hanging where wind is more of a concern and durability is desired
3/16" - welding to a fence and weathering the storm (pictured above)

If your sign is a gift and you don't really know what size to get:

welcome to the funny farm personalized name metal sign with goat, cow, donkey, and pig

2-3 foot on the longest side (depending on shape) is a great size that makes a statement without being difficult for the recipient to find a place to hang.

14 gauge (5/64") or 10 gauge (9/64") are both very common thicknesses - if you don't know where they will put the sign these are versatile and quality thicknesses for your unique gift.

Step 2 - What style of sign do you have in mind?

  • Shape -  we are able to cut out any shape you desire, from circles and squares, to buckle shapes, brands, and unique logos...the possibilities are endless
custom metal wildfire firefighter sign with name and initial inside maltese crossunique shaped ranch custom metal sign for broken x herefords cattle
  • Technique - this refers to how you want your graphics and/or wording to be displayed. Options are positive or negative technique. Positive is when the design is metal and negative is when the design falls out of the metal. We can mix these techniques within one piece as well (pictured below, the brand is negative and the name is positive).
ranch brand custom metal sign
  • Assembly - available in single-piece (one sheet that you see through the cut-outs), double-piece (signs with contrasting background that you see through the cut-outs), or triple-piece (double sided signs).
letter r unique wedding gift metal sign with names and established yearcustom name and brand sign for entryway black with red backgroundcustom two-sided metal sign for ranch entrance black with tan background and frame

Step 3 - What finish/material tickles your fancy?

Raw Steel - A highly recyclable material that gets reused which makes the finish and color vary between pieces (from silver to almost black). Indoor arid climates will keep the natural metal color without treatment. Left untreated in a humid element, the sign will rust and develop a natural patina completely unique to your environment. You can also paint to your liking by simply wiping down with alcohol to remove oils then painting with metal specific paint. This is the most economical option.

custom metal garden signs with ranch brand

Powder-coated - This UV protected finish will protect the steel in the toughest conditions including outside in wet and salty environments. Powder coat is a thick industrial coating that is VOC free and holds up for many years. Available in clear, black, white, brown, red, blue, and yellow - other colors available upon request. A more costly option, but will essentially last forever.

custom metal memorial marker black with red and yellow background

Stainless Steel - this iron alloy is harder by nature and resistant to corrosion and rusting without any treatment. Depending on current price of material, this is usually cost equivalent to powder-coating

custom metal memorial made out of stainless steel with name, dates, quote, and welder graphics on it

Abrasion Resistant Steel (such as AR500) - this steel is known for it's hardness, toughness, and resistance to wear making it a great option for shooting targets and other high-intensity usage. 

Step 4 - What options/upgrades do you desire?

Lighting - for night-time visibility

custom metal business sign with backlighting

Hangers - for different hanging capabilities we can attach hooks, hangers, or specialty holes

Legs - for setting in the ground

custom metal farm and ranch sign with name, address, windmill, tractor, and cow set in the ground with legs

Feet - for self-standing on a shelf or the ground

backside of metal sign with feet for displaying on shelf or ground

Sleeves - for sliding over t-posts

Hayden Guest welding sleeves on the back of a sign for displaying by sliding over t-posts

Now You're ready!

After answering these 4 questions, you know what you need to order your custom metal sign or design. Even if you still aren't sure, you are much wiser than when you began. Go ahead, submit your request below and we can get you quote.


Can you engrave metal with my design?
No, the plasma cutting cuts all the way through the metal creating a hole

Can you cut my logo or custom design out of metal?
The only way to tell if your logo or design is possible is to send us an artwork file (or detailed description) and the dimensions, with both pieces of this information we can let you know what's possible. 

I like this design, but can you change parts of it?
If you like a design you see but want to modify, add, or delete something, let us know and we can work up a truly unique piece for you. Our custom work is priced by the size, thickness (16 gauge to 1" depending on project use), material (steel, stainless, AR500, aluminum, etc), and option of powder-coating.

Why choose HL Guest Handmade for your metal design needs?
HL Guest Handmade is a small business that enjoys working one-on-one with you to bring your ideas to life by fusing together your imagination with our expertise and technology. Working with HL Guest Handmade, you have the opportunity to visit with the actual people who are going to make your sign and deliver on your expectations. This is truly a unique process in this age!