Plexiglass vs. Glass: Which is Better for Custom Framing?

Whether you are customizing personal family photos or original artwork, there are choices beyond your selected images. There’s the frame, the mat (or no mat), and the cover (glass vs. plexiglass). All these decisions are a matter of preference, but we’ll focus on the cover since many people are not sure whether acrylic glass or glass is better for custom framing. There are some things to consider when you are choosing between custom cut plexiglass and glass. First, know that one is not better than the other. Plexiglass and glass each have their different advantages and disadvantages. We break it down for you here so you can decide what will be best for your custom framing project.



Let’s start with the pros and cons of custom cut plexiglass:

Acrylic Plexiglass Frame Pros 

    • Durable and Shatterproof – Plexiglass, sometimes called acrylic plastic, is strong and flexible so it’s less likely to break and shatter.
    • Light weight –Plexiglass weighs 50% less than glass of equal thickness. This light weight makes it easier to hang, easier to transport, and is even easier on the wallet when it comes to shipping costs.
    • Protection from Debris – While a glass cover is protective, plexiglass doesn’t shatter and therefore helps protect the artwork from dust and debris without being prone to damage itself.
    • Cheaper to Ship – The light weight of custom cut plexiglass is a boon when it comes to shipping rates.
    • Anti-Glare and UV-Protection – Clear acrylic sheets are not naturally UV resistant, but they can be manufactured to be OP3 UV resistant and P99 glare resistant. (Acme Plastics’ frame grade plexiglass is 98% UV resistant.) If it’s not OP3 UV, a special UV coating can be applied to the surface for added protection. This will help preserve any artwork displayed in sunlight or under bright lights. An anti-glare coating on plexiglass can deflect up to 75% of UV rays. That said, bright colors may appear dull under the coating so it’s a better choice for black and white images or art that doesn’t contain bright colors.
    • Easy to Clean – Acrylic polishing products, such as The Novus system, are available to easily clean and even remove some scratches from plexiglass. Also, good to know new sheets of custom cut plexiglass will have a protective mask over it ensuring they are as clean and dust-free as possible from the start.

Acrylic Plexiglass Frame Cons

    • More Expensive to Purchase – Compared to glass, plexiglass is the pricier of the two. That’s because petroleum is used in its production so the cost of oil factors into the final cost of the product.
    • Not Fully Protected from Scratches – While it is shatterproof, plexiglass is only somewhat scratch-resistant. In fact, it can easily be marred with surface abrasions.
    • May Bow – Larger plexiglass sheets may bend, bulge, or bow in the frame over time. This is caused by humidity or temperature conditions or even the thickness of the sheet used.
    • Static Charge – Static electricity attracts dust particles to the plexiglass sheet—and you don’t usually see those specks until you frame the artwork. An easy solution is to brush the plastic with an anti-static brush before framing.
    • Trickier to Cut – Custom cut plexiglass for framing is typically about 1/8” thick. That thickness makes it somewhat difficult to score and snap cleanly.

Now, here are a few pros and cons of glass to consider:

Glass Pros

    • Less Expensive to Purchase – Glass costs significantly less than plexiglass. However, if shipping is involved it may end up costing more since shipping is dependent on weight.
    • Easier to Cut – Cutting a piece of custom glass for framing is much easier than plexiglass. Just score with a glass cutter and fold at the score for a clean, neat cut.
    • Fully Protected from Scratches – While it may break, glass is scratch resistant.
    • Less Static Charge – Glass is also prone to static charge (though not as much as acrylic). Like acrylic, it can be brushed with an anti-static brush before placing in frame to eliminate any dust particles.

Glass Cons 

    • Easily Breakable – As you already know, glass can break. And when it does, it can be more than just an inconvenience. Shards of broken glass can damage artwork or injure someone.
    • Heavy weight – Glass is much heavier than plexiglass. Using a glass cover in a large, heavy frame will require extra support for hanging and will be more difficult to transfer.
    • More Expensive to Ship –While glass costs less than plexiglass, since it is heavier it is more expensive to ship.
    • Potentially Dangerous for Framing Large Pieces – Besides its weight being an issue for shipping costs and mobility, the weight of glass can be a concern for larger framing projects. As mentioned above, if dropped, shards from shattered glass can damage artwork or cut a person.
    • Green Tint – Glass offers amazing display clarity so you can show off your artwork. However, its high iron content causes a green tint.
    • Reflective Glare – The property that makes glass so appealing—its clarity—also makes it highly reflective and more susceptible to glare from lighting and sunlight.
    • Harder to Clean – Dry dusting framed glass only builds up static charge, which in turn, attracts more dust. The static electricity/dust combination can make glass a challenge to keep clean.

Final Thoughts  

A few things to consider now that you know the differences between glass and plexiglass. Where will the artwork be displayed? If there is a safety issue, you may want to choose plexiglass. Will it be in direct sunlight? If so, you’ll need a UV protective coating. How big is the piece of art? Using glass in a larger, heavier piece of art only adds more weight, requiring professional art installation. Is the piece being shipped? Factor the weight in shipping rates. Both glass and plexiglass protect artwork from dust and debris, and both can have added UV protective coatings but the difference in weight, cost, size may influence your decision.

If you decide to pick plexiglass for your project, Acme Plastics is your source. Whether it is for residential or commercial use, our team can custom cut plexiglass sheets based on the exact specifications of your needs. We can select the size, radius corners, and drilled holes to custom fit your frame. Feel free to reach out to our knowledgeable customer service representatives with any questions you may have about custom-cut plexiglass for your project.