Understanding and Selecting Standoffs

Standoffs are a simple, elegant solution for mounting all manner of materials to a flat surface. Whether you have an award you’re especially proud of or a college diploma, even if you’re just trying to create a striking countertop or desk that stands out- standoffs are an excellent choice. What’s even better is that if you are looking to mount something laser cut you can make the process incredibly simple and frustration free, but more on that later...

Let’s break down what a standoff is. If you’re like most people you have seen them and maybe never known the name before, but at their most basic they are an object that mounts to a surface (wall, countertop, display, etc.) and allows another piece to attach to it- effectively “standing-off” of whatever you mount it to. On a wall (vertical) this has the effect of highlighting whatever you have mounted and drawing attention to it as the eye scans across a typically flat boring wall. On a desk (horizontal) it adds a clever “levitating” effect, and when done well it looks really sharp.


Standoffs are usually configured in two simple pieces, although there are many interesting shapes and sizes out there. Let’s talk about the most likely sort that you may run across. The barrel standoff.

The standoff is one main part: the “barrel”. The barrel is a cylinder that comes in different lengths and widths according to preference and the thickness of the material you plan to mount with it. One end (the “top” or “front”) is threaded, and the “bottom” has a smaller hole. The barrel is what you actually mount to the wall (or wherever else you may be mounting). This is done by inserting a screw through the front of the barrel and driving that screw into your surface.  

Our second part is called the “cap” that is also a cylinder; but with one flat face. The other side is a threaded insert. Push the cap’s threads through a hole in your piece and screw them into the barrel, and that’s a barrel standoff!



Deciding on the standoff that is best for you is mostly a question of what you prefer, but two factors must be considered first: weight and thickness of what you are standing-off. Standoffs always have a rated weight, and if you find ones that don’t, then you should consider other options first. If your piece weighs 10 pounds and you find standoffs that are rated to hold only five pounds that's okay, as long as you use at least two standoffs (more is always fine).

Once you have found standoffs that bear the weight of your piece, the next step is to figure out the thickness of what you are mounting. If you are mounting a certificate between two sheets of quarter-inch acrylic you will need a standoff that has threads longer  than a half an inch to make sure that you have enough thread to screw the cap to the barrel. The more the better, and most standoffs will tell you what the limit is.

Sometimes finding a screw that fits through the barrel is difficult, and the head of the screw is too large to pass to the bottom. Simply using standoffs that include compatible mounting screws and anchors is the best solution to that, but if you are mounting to something uncommon or prefer to use a specific screw or anchor- it’s something worth considering in advance.

Now the rest is entirely up to you! Standoffs can come in different metals, sizes, shapes, and colors, so finding the perfect solution to match your decor and showcase your piece is only limited by your imagination. Let us know if you are planning to use standoffs on a project, and we will happily add properly aligned holes for you to make the installation a breeze!

Check back in a few weeks when we will go through the entire installation process in detail.