Benefits of Acrylic for Picture Framing

Written by Mark Rogers

When you picture a traditional picture frame, you likely imagine a wood or metal frame with a solid glass cover. It’s been used by our mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers and it surrounds us to this day. Glass certainly has some great characteristics when it comes to displaying and protecting our favorite photos and works of art, but modern technology has produced an alternative that better fits our needs: Acrylic glass.

What is Acrylic Glass for Picture Frames?

Acrylic is a glass alternative that has gained popularity as a framing material. You may know it as Acrylite® or Plexiglas®, which are brands of the same thermoplastic scientifically known as Polymethyl Methacrylate (aka PMMA). It’s hard, flexible, lightweight, and even recyclable. Acrylic glass does a great job of providing clarity as well as protection, and that makes it especially beneficial when it comes to showcasing and preserving photographs and artwork.

Downfalls of Glass

Acrylic glass is a popular framing option for many photographers and artists. Traditional glass, though still a popular option for framing, can be incredibly heavy, which makes larger display pieces a risk. Big or small, all glass comes with the same risks should the art fall. Glass shards can cause damage that can’t be repaired, and this is a big cause for concern when it comes to displaying and preserving original pieces. Many museums and galleries will not use traditional glass in expensive or irreplaceable artwork due to the risk of glass slicing the artwork if the frame is dropped or hit.

While picture frame glass is a good option for some projects, it can affect picture quality. Though many people don’t realize it, glass isn’t truly clear—it has a green tint from iron content. This affects the clarity and color perception of art framed behind glass. Unless treated, glass used in frames also allows fading over time caused by damaging UV rays passing through the glass. UV protecting treatments on glass are available but can fade over time since they are applied to the surface of the glass. If preservation and protection is a concern, glass may not be the best option.

Benefits of Acrylic

Acrylic glass is lightweight and shatter resistant, eliminating the potential for damage during transportation or surprise falls. It’s a great insulator too, decreasing the risk of damage from condensation beneath the frame.

Acrylic is optically superior, naturally without tinting commonly seen in glass. This optical purity makes it a great option for displaying and protecting framed photos and art. Since it is an artificially created glass alternative, special treatment options can be applied to protect against common glass issues, such as light glare and UV penetration. Acrylic glass from framing is available in Standard, UV-filtered, Non-Glare, and UV-Non-Glare, allowing for a full range of aesthetic and protective qualities. Unlike exterior treatments found on glass, these protective features are incorporated into the acrylic product, making it less prone to breakdown over time.

Important Considerations

Since acrylic is more lightweight and flexible than glass, it can bow over time. It’s also much more vulnerable to scratching than glass, so it’s imperative that acrylic only be cleaned with gentle microfiber clothes. Because of the risk of scratching, this framing option is best used in minimal contact situations. Acrylic glass is also more prone to issues with static, making this the wrong option for charcoal-based art.

While acrylic glass has greater clarity than traditional framing glass, reduced-iron glass takes optical purity to a higher, albeit more costly, level. Purity can also be affected by a slight yellow tint in UV filter protection and the loss of sharpness in Non-Glare Acrylic Glass.

When It Works Best

Acrylic glass is a great option for framing original art pieces because there’s no fear of tears or punctures from broken glass. Larger artwork and photos do especially well with acrylic framing because of the reduced weight risk. Keepsake photos from wedding albums, professional shoots, and special events are also well-paired with acrylic glass as you can opt for UV protection to allow for clarity while reducing the penetration of the sun’s rays.

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13 thoughts on “Benefits of Acrylic for Picture Framing”

  • Madonna M Andersen
    Madonna M Andersen May 31, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    I would like to frame a 8x10 Laser Cell. It is enclosed in matting with a cardboard backing bearing a Certificate of Authenticity. All together about 3/16". Do you carry any product that can accommodate an insert of this width?

    • Heather

      Good afternoon Madonna,
      We do carry frames that have a rabbet depth big enough for this project. You can either go to custom frames and choose wood or metal, then browse and see the dimensions on each one, or you can go to Picture Frames and filter by rabbet depth. If you have any questions at all or need help please reach out to us and we'd be happy to assist!
      Have a great day!

  • Rudolph Roof

    You explain very nicely i also have some acrylic display frame supplier for this purpose.

  • […] RY display frames come with two 3mm acrylic frames and chrome hardware. The combination of these looks pretty good. You can display 8×10 inch […]

  • Taylor Hansen

    It's good to know that acrylic glass can help protect against light glare and UV rays. As part of our living room design, we want our living room to have a lot of paintings and pictures hung on the walls. I'll be sure to keep looking for custom frames that we can hang our precious paintings in.

  • Phil Vanderloo
    Phil Vanderloo June 2, 2019 at 6:39 am

    Trying to save some cash I purchased a 4' x 8' sheet of P99 Acrylic to cut up for my photo frames.
    Well, I was unable to tell when I bought it, as it had a protective cellophane coating on both sides, but after cutting and peeling the cellophane it is very obscure. Money down the drain.
    Wishing I could find out what is best for archival framing with acrylic.

    • Laura W

      Hi Phil - Sometimes, it depends on the process used to create the non-glare property. If the acrylic is etched to create the non-glare property, and it's not placed within 1/8" from the art, it can give it a cloudy look. If the non-glare property is achieved by the supplier using a tint, it should be clearer. This is typically a more expensive option though.

  • Tomas Killington
    Tomas Killington April 10, 2017 at 1:34 am

    My wife and I have recently moved into a new home. She has been doing a lot of decorating, but she's concerned some of our valuable photos might get damaged. I didn't realize acrylic is shatter resistant and reduces the risk of condensation by being a great insulator. I'll be sure my wife is aware of this great option.

  • solve

    Hey, you used to write wonderful, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your super writings. Past several posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

  • Maggie

    You make a really good point about how acrylic is shatter resistant. I think that a shattered glass frame is probably the most common problem that frames can have. I'll be sure to try and stick with acrylic while I look for the perfect picture frame for my living room art.

  • […] more about the benefits of acrylic glazing on one of our other blog […]

  • Jennifer Doe

    Custom Acrylic Framing gives a picture perfect look to the artwork and also protect it from various external elements. It protect it from dust particles and damage caused due to external elements. Thank you for sharing this important information. These are really effective and very practical points & should be kept in mind. Many websites provide online acrylic picture framing services such as - PaintBox Art & Framing , American Frames & Simply framed.


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