Glass or Acrylic for Picture Frames?June 28, 2021
It might not be the sexiest of topics, but it’s time we talk about glazing. When designing a picture frame, believe it or not, glazing is an important consideration as it plays many roles. Just like the material on the back of your custom frame, the front cover of your frame or ‘glazing’, has the important job of protecting and preserving your treasured photos and art inside. It also has the added responsibility of providing a great display for whatever you are showing off.
When selecting a glazing option for your picture frame, the big decision really comes down to glass vs acrylic, and with many subtypes within each option. With so many choices, it can be hard to know what is right for you. So, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you settle on the best material for your custom frame.
Here at Framer, all of our custom frames come standard with a high standard acrylic plexiglass. Even though plexiglass is a little more expensive than glass, it has a number of benefits that make it a favourite in the industry.
Firstly, plexiglass is shatterproof making it safe and reliable for transport. One of the benefits of ordering a custom photo frame with Framer is convenience. Once your picture frame is complete, we ship it to your door. So having a glazing option that is guaranteed not to crack or smash during transport is key. Acrylic flexible nature also makes it a more sturdy choice for your home, particularly if your frame will be around children, opening and closing doors or rowdy adults – no more worrying about frames being bumped or hit and being damaged. Interestingly, many museums these days are choosing acrylic over glass for a similar reason. If the glass breaks, there is too much at stake, with the risk of the artwork behind being sliced or destroyed by shattered glass.
Secondly, acrylic is much lighter than glass. This is an advantage not only when shipping (heavy = expensive shipping) but also when constructing the frame itself and when hanging on your walls. When cut in large dimensions, glass is very heavy. This can put strain on the frame itself and cause the mouldings to bow or even snap. To avoid this, extra bracing may be required – which requires additional work and materials, again adding to the cost. Also, when hanging large frames, especially those made with glass glazing, you really need to be careful to ensure the wall behind the frame is capable of supporting it. Otherwise it can rip from the wall – damaging the frame and wall. Boo! Similarly, heavy glass frames may need additional hanging hardware (such as specialist hooks) to be able to support the extra weight of the glass in the frame.
Thirdly, acrylic is perfectly crisp and clear. Whereas picture frame glass often has a green tint, which can impact the quality and look of your photos and art when framed up. The green tint seen is caused by the material’s higher iron content. Just something to be aware of.
At Framer, our standard acrylic plexiglass glazing has 40% UV protection to keep your photos and art protected and safe from fading and sun damage. If you’re looking for even more, we can also offer non-reflective acrylic with 66% UV protection and non-reflective conservation acrylic with 98% UV protection. These non-reflective, anti-glare glazing types optimise viewing of pieces under bright light conditions.
Similarly, if you are dead set on glass, but are worried about the green tint we flagged earlier, here at Framer we do offer perfectly clear conservation glass (sometimes referred to as water white or museum glass), which offers 99% UV protection. All of these non-standard options will have higher costs and will need to be quoted.
Acrylic vs Glass summary:
Framing with acrylic
- More durable / shatterproof
- Clear (no green tint)
- UV protection
Framing with glass
- Often cheaper
- Not as easily scratched
When it comes to glazing for your picture frames, art frames and photo frames, we are confident you will be more than happy with our standard acrylic option. But keep in mind that we also have a lot of options if you want to switch things up. Please send us an email with the exact specifics you want, and we will happily get back to you with more detailed information and some pricing. As anything anything non-standard needs to be quoted up as a custom price and will be more expensive than the prices you see on our website.