Why don’t you use real glass? is a question potential clients have asked on a number of occasions. This is most probably due to the many misconceptions amongst the general public as to the quality of the acrylic glazing we use as standard in our custom made picture frames. These misconceptions are created by the cheap styrene glazing that can be found in picture frames mass produced in the Far East and sold by stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap department stores. Styrene glazing is generally very thin, creating a wavy look in the frame, and will go yellow over time. Acrylic is not styrene glazing and shouldn’t be confused with it as they are incomparable products. Acrylic is much clearer than the standard float glass used in most picture frames, and offers far greater protection against harmful UV rays. Just as important, acrylic is much lighter than glass and will not break thus making it a product more suited to being sent around the country via a courier network. It is also an incorrect assumption that we use acrylic as it is cheaper than glass when acrylic actually costs about twice the price of glass.
It would be fair to say acrylic is a little more difficult to work with in terms of removing the static it will generate and dust particles attracted to it by the static. However, with a little practice and guidance from us, it is really straightforward.
Make sure you have everything prepared first before you start handling the acrylic. With your prepared artwork, have a trial run. Make sure everything fits into the frame to ensure you do not need to adjust the artwork or mount size. There may be some flakes of wood or paint inside the rebate of the frame so you should wipe along the inside edge, taking care not to cut yourself on any of the flexible tabs, to remove any debris.
Acrylic will attract dust as it generates static. You can eliminate this as much as possible by working on a clean, dust free, surface such as a kitchen table. Do not put the acrylic on carpet as it will attract dust particles thus making the process a little more tedious.
The acrylic will have a protective film on both sides. Depending on the type of acrylic you have ordered, this may be a solid white colour, or a transparent blue colour. Wipe over the protective film on both sides and the edges of the acrylic using a slightly damp soft cloth. Wiping over the film before it is removed will kill any static and remove any dust. The film can now be removed, by peeling each corner inwards towards the centre so that any remaining dust is trapped within the film. To avoid having to wipe off fingerprints, you should only handle the acrylic at the edges. With both films removed the acrylic should be gently refitted into the frame, followed by the artwork and backing. If everything has gone to plan, you shouldn’t have any noticeable dust or debris inside the frame. If you do need to wipe the acrylic after the film has been removed, we recommend using a micro fibre cloth which are readily available from all supermarkets in UK.
Caring For Acrylic
There are lots of cleaning products available that will help clean acrylic, and also some which will even ‘remove scratches’. Any cleaning product used should be ammonia free and recommended for use with acrylic, certainly do not use normal glass cleaner as it will react with the acrylic and make it go cloudy.
I have lots of pictures fitted with acrylic in my house, and I have never, ever had the need to purchase any acrylic cleaner or scratch remover so I cannot recommend any particular brand or even confirm they work. To clean my pictures, I gently wipe the glazing with a microfibre cloth to remove any dust, whilst fingerprints can be removed with a slightly damp cloth.