Is Acrylic Better Than Glass?
When deciding on glass or acrylic for picture frames, it's important to understand what both materials bring to the table.
As anyone who has ever chipped a mug in their kitchen can tell you, glass is quite fragile. It's also heavy, especially when using glass for picture frames that will house larger prints and photos. However, glass is also incredibly resistant to scratches and scuffs, and it's easy to clean. Glass is nearly transparent, though it can have some tints to it, as well. Some framers use terms like "museum" or "conservation" to describe glass, making it seem like the higher quality option.
Acrylic, also known as plexiglass, is a type of shatter-resistant, flexible plastic — this material is strong and unlikely to break, whereas glass is easily damaged and potentially dangerous. Acrylic also tends to be even more transparent than glass. That said, comparing the cost of acrylic versus glass side by side, you'll often find that acrylic is a bit pricier. But picture frames with plastic instead of glass weigh much less, so they're cheaper to ship, and their sturdiness makes them easier to transport.
Acrylic vs. Glass Frame Glazing Options
In addition to the pros and cons of each listed above, you need to consider these acrylic vs. glass frame glazing finishes:
Picture frame glass and acrylic both come in clear finishes. This choice is common for most artwork and photography, especially for pieces with vibrant colors. It offers full, window-like clarity, allowing all the detail to pop right out of the frame. Unfortunately, clear finishes also tend to be highly reflective, making them susceptible to glare if they're on display near direct light sources.
Non-glare, also known as anti-reflective, finishes can eliminate glare from sunlight that may hit your frame. In particular, the properties of non-glare acrylic for picture frames will disperse the sunshine, enhancing your piece's overall visibility. However, non-glare finishes can also dull any colors present. For black-and-white artwork or photography, this might not be a concern.
UV Acrylic and Glass
In addition to visibility concerns, the sun presents something even more potentially damaging for your prized prints: ultraviolet (UV) rays. Certain artificial light sources contain UV rays too. Over time, UV light can cause irreparable damage to artwork. While standard glass and acrylic for picture frames do have a moderate amount of UV protection, it's often not enough — particularly if you know your piece is going in a well-lit gallery or a room in your home with an abundance of natural lighting. Luckily, UV acrylic and glass are available with coatings that offer much more protection. These UV-protected picture frames will help your gorgeous photos and posters maintain their beauty for a significantly longer amount of time. UV acrylic is particularly noteworthy for the protection it offers — a great complement to its strength and durability.
Glass vs. Acrylic Framing Comparison Chart
|Glass for Picture Frames||Acrylic for Picture Frames|
|Display Qualities||Reflective, possibly tinted||Anti-reflective options common|
|Risk Factors||Easily damaged due to weight, sharp shards if broken, could cut artwork||Unlikely to break, completely shatterproof, falls not a concern due to low weight|
|Ease of Hanging/Transportation||Heavy and difficult to move, may need extra support for hanging||Quickly and easily moved and transported|
|Ability to Preserve Artwork and Photography||Full protection from debris and scratching, UV protection available||Full protection from debris, moderate protection from scratching, UV acrylic available|
|Cost||Typically less (though more expensive to ship)||Typically more (though cheaper to ship)|
Is Acrylic or Glass Better for Framing?
Both glass and acrylic for picture frames offer a high level of protection for your artwork and photos. Also, both UV acrylic and glass are available to provide additional safeguards against UV rays. Ultimately, the choice may come down to personal preference. However, picture frames with plastic instead of glass are extremely light and durable while offering the same amount of defense for your precious prints.