Photographic Frames - Acrylic Plexiglas vs Glass - Which is the Best?
Glass or Acrylic Plexiglas? The differences and which is right for you?
One belief with Framed Photography is the revelation that Plexiglas (Acrylic plastic) is inferior to Glass, but is there any merit to it? Well lets have a look!
Glass has been used for glazing for a very long time in-fact glass's invention even predates the sundial and during its first period of common use 1 in 5 people reading this would have been under the umbrella of the Roman empire.
So how does the new kid on the block compare to its older sibling.
Glass is the purists choice and you won't find much Plexiglas in professional art galleries, yet glass does have its problems.
- Glass has been around the longest and is traditional.
- Glass has that professional feel.
- Glass is very scratch resistant.
However it does actually have a quite few CON's
- Glass shatters easily.
- Glass is heavy.
- Glass often has a anti-glare treating which gives a slight green tint.
- Glass picks up more reflections.
- Glass has a worse refraction index - reducing clarity
- Glass will damage the print if it touches it for to long (use a mount).
On the other hand.
Plexiglas or Acrylic glass.
- Plexiglas is lighter than Glass.
- Plexiglas is shatterproof (unless bent).
- Plexiglas picks up less reflections.
- Plexiglas has a better refraction index meaning better clarity.
- Plexiglas is clear with no tint.
- You can usually frame prints touching Plexiglas without any issues.
- Plexiglas scratches very easily
- Plexiglas is quite static so can pick up dust
Hence on paper Plexiglas holds it own against glass frames.
The use of Plexiglas in frames has also shot up over the years due to the market going online, Plexiglas frames are far less likely to damage or shatter in transit.
I probably receive between 5% of my glass frames damaged in transit. (Not all couriers are the same, luckily the ones I use look after them a bit better)
Plexiglas although not as professional feeling doesn't actually have any drawbacks as long as your are careful not scratch it. (only use very soft cloths)
So essentially we can rule out the differences between them and simply say use them for a given purpose.
Large frames tend to be Plexiglas to reduce the weight of the frame and reduce the risk of damage in transit due to the large pane of glass.
Smaller frames then tend to be Glass panned.
Although this article does give Plexiglas a good result, as stated Plexiglas does scratch very easily and should be taken into consideration when choosing.
Personally I don't mind either frames and I frame a lot of them each year. Glass to me has a more professional feel, but Plexiglas frames Travel easier and come to me cleaner and easier to frame as they are normally backed with protective films.
I will tend to always offer a Glass panned frame when I can and only going to Plexiglas when the size means I have to.
What's your preferred frame choice? Let us know in the Comments box below!
More of our guides on prints and photography
Finish Type's in Photography - Which one is Best? GLOSS, MATTE or LUSTRE, How to make the right decision.