The differentiators between engraved and etched slate

Etched & Engraved Slate Differences

| Jack Tompsett

In our line of work as specialist bespoke sign makers, knowing your etchings from your engravings is just part of the job. But for any would-be sign buyer, things aren’t quite as clear cut if you haven’t come across the terms before. From laser machinery to sandblasting, we look at the differences between the two, the pros and cons of each and most importantly, the finish that they will give your sign.


Engraved Slate House & Business Signs

When it comes to putting lettering on signs, engraving is one of the oldest methods in the book. Albeit, things have come a long way from the days when rock and stick were used to chisel away at the face of the sign. For our engraved signs, we use a modern and skilful technique called sandblasting, which is as the name suggests, is where you blast sand at a high velocity at the face of the sign to create grooved lettering. Once all the text on the sign is deeply engraved through the sandblasting process, paint can be applied to the groves making them stand out with a splash of colour against the dark grey slate, before being sealed with a long-lasting oil finish.

Pros of engraved slate signs:

  • Signs can last for a lifetime if well looked after. 
  • Easy to read in all weather conditions, as the engraving is deep.
  • Provides a stylish look to any property type.

Cons of engraved slate signs:

  • Due to the process involved, it is slightly more costly. Although signs can still be turned around within 24 hours.


Etched Slate House & Business Signs

The second popular option chosen for slate signs is etched lettering. This process uses a powerful laser that burns onto the face of the slate, causing a distinct change in colour from the dark grey slate to a much lighter grey tone. The slate we use at The Bespoke Sign House is of high grade, making it dark in colour and extremely durable, allowing greater contrast to be made in the etched lettering against the face of the sign. The process of etching does not leave deep grooves in the same way that the engraved slate process creates, instead it leaves a much softer finish to the lettering applied.

Pros of etched slate signs:

  • Etching provides a stylish finish, particularly when used on signs for modern properties.
  • Is cheaper due to the easier manufacturing process.

Cons of etched slate signs:

  • Rain can make it harder to read the sign when wet, due to etchings going darker when exposed to water.


Whether you're looking for an etched or an engraved sign, The Bespoke Sign House workshop can do it all. We have a wide array of design options available through our online sign designer, which allows you to create your perfect sign in minutes before it is handcrafted by our team, sealed with an oil finish and delivered to your door.