What Is An Escutcheon Plate? (Explained)

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An escutcheon plate is a decorative metal useful for concealing holes in walls, ceilings, or keyholes. Originally, escutcheons were made of iron but in the current century, they are made of brass and stainless steel materials. It is also a legal requirement for fire sprinklers by NFPA codes.


How Do Escutcheons Work?

The working of the escutcheons depends on their immediate applications, however; they are generally decorative plates for keyholes on door handles, or concealing materials for pipe holes in plumbing surfaces.

In Furniture:

They are often stainless steel, or brass materials surrounding a keyhole, or fixed into the top lid on door handles. Traditionally, the escutcheons would have engravings of the owner’s names on them useful as a symbol of ownership as well as an antique appearance that portrayed wealth.

In Fire Safety

The plates here are intentional for closing gaps between sprinkler heads, and the ceilings or wall tile. The plate is also important for activation and efficient working of the sprinklers, as well as unique decorative appearances on the surfaces.

This is concerning the fact that you cannot paint the material; it is more unique with its shiny appearance.

In this category, the escutcheons are of three different types including the recessed, adjustable, and flat escutcheons.

  • Recessed– it has an outer ring that bends into an inner ring wrapping on the base of the sprinkler head.
  • Adjustable– it comes in two pieces a skirt cutout attached to the wall and a cup that adjusts the sprinkler. It looks more like a filament bulb holder with its cap.

In Plumbing Fixations

Here the plumbers apply an even coat of putty all over the plate, then slide it up the shower, sink, or faucet arm to the wall.

Pressing it firmly, and holding it against the wall, the plumbers apply even pressure for it to attach to the surface.

Depending on their relative surfaces, the escutcheon plates can get screwed to their surfaces.

So when removing such, a screwdriver is used in unscrewing them out while those attached with putty to the wall are gently cut through using a plastic putty knife to lift them away from the wall.

What Is an Escutcheon Plate?

So, these are decorative plates meant to add beauty to the surfaces as well as to conceal unsightly pipe holes in the wall.

These are therefore perfect finish parts meant to add a sense of feeling within buildings and can only be removed for replacement or when repairing the system.

The stainless steel and brass material plates come in different shapes and sizes depending on their application surfaces.

The plates might need occasional replacements when they rust off or lose their aesthetic feel because of different effects on their installed surfaces. Since escutcheons vary in meaning to different applications, conclusively they are decorative plates or covers surrounding other pieces of hardware.

However, the uses in plumbing and the fire departments are the escutcheons typical applications in this modern era.

In medieval times, the first escutcheons were creative ornaments for the maintenance of wooden doors. They would specifically prevent wear and tear around the keyhole as well as facilitating additional decorative structures on the doorknobs.

Back then, the plates were made of iron keys. However later on, after the Middle Ages transition, the natives learned of its decorative structure being consistently attractive, having a longer lifespan when it’s made of bronze and brass materials.

These have been in use to date because of their numerous finishes, however, currently stainless steel too and chrome are useful in their structuring with uniquely curbed floral details.

Stainless steel round ball door knob

What is the Purpose of an Escutcheon?

The practical purpose of an escutcheon depends on its area of application, which varies from door locks, plumbing fixations, and fire safety.

These sectors also determine their characteristics in form of size, shape, and relative perfect materials.

So categorically, the escutcheon plate’s purposes depend on the following sectors:

In Door Furniture

It is important in protecting door lock cylinders from thieves that may intend to break into houses by drilling out the locks. It is also important for the protection of the keyhole surface from scratches resulting from, keys misalignment with the keyhole.

Additionally, here they are fixed with rotating covers intended to enhance privacy by preventing prying eyes, as well as functional as insects and dust filters.

In Fire Sprinkler

These are automated smoke sensors fitted on house walls or ceilings aimed at fighting house fire disasters. The sprinklers have escutcheons fit on them as decorative heads concealing the gap between the sprinkler head and the ceiling, or wall surfaces.

In addition to being part of the National Fire Protection Association requirements in some countries, the escutcheons are also important for the efficient activation of the sprinkler heads.

In Surface Plumbing

Functional on faucets, sinks, and showers, the escutcheons are exceptionally important as cover plates are useful for hiding ugly holes in walls as well as, adding decor touches to the same surface fittings.

Do You Need an Escutcheon?

The important décor factor and the general functionality of the escutcheon plates show the lag, and constant setbacks that would have been in the fire safety industry as well as the plumbing, and door locks safety.

So mindless of their immediate applications, the escutcheons have an assurance of outstanding irreplaceable purposes.

The basic functions are also evident in the use of brass or stainless steel materials meaning their surfaces boast of super shiny unique color blends with any surface in proximity to them offering more antique appearances.

Therefore, you need these 2 in 1 escutcheon plates.

Among its applications, plumbing escutcheon plates are quite easy to install with plumber’s putty; once slid on the pipe fitting onto the wall or ceiling surface.

However, the fire sprinkler escutcheons do need extra attention during their installations to avert any damages that may tamper with the delicate smoke sensors in the sprinkler heads.

How Do You Replace Escutcheon?

The varying applications of escutcheons come with several issues that in a way or another can cause the plates to tarnish.

For instance, the brass and stainless steel escutcheons are better of unpainted. So, in case a fire sprinkler is sooty because of the smoke signals in the house, on refurbishing the house, you will have to remove and replace such plates with new shiny ones to maintain their decorative state.

Similarly, escutcheons used on water fittings too, have a risky of rusting off because of leakages in the pipes. This might be resulting from slow drips constantly flowing down the pipes to the wall surfaces or the damp environment surrounding them.

So any stains or tarnishes on escutcheon plates, call for their immediate replacements to maintain their decorative functions as well as their concealing purposes. However, the replacement procedures vary according to the necessary applications.

How to Replace Fire Sprinkler Escutcheons

  • Look for the sprinkler valve.
  • Unscrew the sprinkler’s top cover
  • To replace the sprinkler, use a new sealant to screw the plate, not forgetting to use moderate pressure when tightening the sprinkler head.

Their replacement can however be done at a span of every five or ten years depending on their immediate surroundings.

Escutcheons used on doorknobs and plumbing fixations including shower valves, sink, and faucets take much longer for them to require replacements.

However, to replace them all you need to do is unscrew the showerhead and slip off the tarnished escutcheon replacing it with a new one before screwing the showerhead and the faucets.

You, however, need to turn off all valves supplying water to your working point before replacing the escutcheons.


Therefore, escutcheons are decorative concealing plates important to hide unnecessary holes in pipes as well as filtering dust, insects, and prying eyes from doorknobs. These plates, however, may need occasional replacements depending on their immediate applications.