What Is Architectural Metal?

architectural metal columns climbing the side of a building

Architectural metal is a term used to describe a decorative metal element of a building or other structure. These metal ornaments are often custom fabricated to bring the architect’s unique vision to life, focusing more on aesthetics than functionality, though both of those applications can be achieved if the pieces are designed and fabricated properly.

Examples of Decorative Metal

Where can you see architectural metal? Just about everywhere. Strolling through the downtown area of nearly any city will provide numerous examples of custom-fabricated metal components that serve to draw eyes to the building. They can be as rudimentary as a series of metal circles that form a “halo” around the top of the structure, and as complex as metal lattice panels covering its exterior walls.

Blending Aesthetics and Functionality

Architectural metal doesn’t have to be simply ornamental in nature. A clever architect and talented custom metal fabrication shop can design and manufacture metal components that not only catch the eye but also play a functional role in the structure. Here are some common places to find such examples:


Sports arenas always have plenty to look at architecturally. Team logos can be cut from metal sheet then welded to a railing system, for instance, maintaining the home-team aesthetic while channeling fans through the structure on game day. Decorative railing can also comprise metal pipe and perforated panels—a simpler design that still adds to the stadium’s appearance while helping with foot traffic.


Walk into the lobby of any museum or theater and you may find decorative stairs. Architectural metal can be used for almost every part of a staircase, including the treads, but it is most commonly found in the railing. For instance, spiral staircases require perfectly fabricated metal rails to precisely fit the design. And, of course, staircase railing is an important functional element as it keeps people from falling off the stairs.


One example of architectural metal playing an important functional role in a building is when it’s used in the roofing. Metal roofs are most often found on historical and culturally relevant buildings, such as churches, schools, and museums. They are a durable form of protection against the elements that can simultaneously maintain the architectural vision of the structure’s exterior.

How Is Architectural Metal Manufactured?

Though bringing an architect’s vision to life can sometimes be a challenge, there are tools available that allow custom fabrication shops to do just that. Ornamental metal is commonly fabricated using CNC plasma cutting tables. CNC refers to “computer numerical control” and simply means that custom designs can be uploaded into the machine’s software for automated processing. Allowing a CNC plasma cutter to do the work helps eliminate imperfections caused by handheld fabricating, ensuring accurate results.

A Leading Manufacturer of CNC Plasma Cutting Tables

Machitech is the name that professional fabricators trust for state-of-the-art custom fabrication technology. Our heavy-duty CNC plasma cutting tables and other cutting solutions are customizable to fit individual needs, and they include free and unlimited support from our team of experts for life. To learn more, contact Machitech today.