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Why picture framing with Perspex or plastic glass costs more than using clear glass

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Isn't framing with Perspex cheaper than glass? There's a common, public misconception that Perspex, or plastic glass, as most customers call it,picture-framing-plexiglass-plastic-glasWiki-Knowledge-article-icon is or should be considerably cheaper and more readily available than clear glass. But in fact, the opposite is true. Plastic-based materials such as perspex or acrylite and polyethylene sheets actually cost 3 to 6 times more to buy than than clear picture framing glass sheets, depending on quality. Importantly, these materials aren't as readily available because picture framers cannot score and snap plastic sheets themselves with a relatively inexpensive, pencil-type, hand-held, glass cutter as they do when cutting glass sheets.

They nearly always have to buy these cut-to-size sheets from an outside plastics fabricator. To cut plastic panels to size from larger sheets, the plastics fabricator or supplier will need to use and operate an expensive, wall-mounted, panel radial-saw with high-speed with carbide-tipped blades. This machine and these blades help ensure that the sheet of plastic will not smash, break or shatter while being sawn to size.

In addition, there's the added cost of delivering a single, custom-size cut plastic panel from the fabricator's factory to the picture frame workshop. Because of all these factors, using a plastic glass glaze rather than a clear glass glaze, will always cost much more than clear glass. So, for most home framing of common inexpensive decorator art, clear glass is the only way to go. Of course, there are occasions or jobs for which plastic glass is better suites, though it will always cost more, for the reasons explained herein.

Plastic glass for instance may be more suitable than glass if glazing a large piece of art in a children's environment or public area. Both these environments are highly conducive to glass breakages owing to the higher density of persons about and around the artwork and greater physical, bodily movement. Acrylic is lighter, less likely to strain hangers, less prone to hanging failures and unlikely to produce dangerous glass shards damaging to either property or limbs.

It also has better optical qualities since it contains less iron content than clear glass. Lastly , if a picture frame needs shipping, one framed with plastic glass will obviously be safer to ship than one with glass. For more information on glass ang glazing visit our Picture Framing Glass page.

4 thoughts on “Why picture framing with Perspex or plastic glass costs more than using clear glass

  1. Geez, I was wondering why a picture framer once wanted an extra 32 bucks for piece of perpsex instead of a piece of glass in a picture frame I broke the glass. You explained why it cost more but I still don’t understand it. Is it because it all has to be made here in Australia using Australian labour instead of all being fully imported.

  2. I take it that’s not a problem with taking picture frames to change the glass, right? I’ve changed homes and my picture frame snow face a large sunny window and I hate the reflections. Problem is, I want to one framer and he didn’t want to do it, too busy or something. I then went to another one and he wanted $80 per picture frame. Why is it so expensive to change normal glass to non-reflective glass? The picture framer told me that non-glare glass is 3 or 4 times the price of clear glass. Is this right?

  3. Most of you don’t know this but if in Sydney you want to get a piece of Perspex it will cost you a small fortune. I needed a special plastic panel 80x80cm as a cover sheet cut to size for my breeding aviary where I keep birds. I went to a plastic factory here in Marrickville and they quoted me $128 !!! Included in that there was a $45 cutting charge just to cut my plastic from a bigger sheet, they explained. This has nothing to do with picture framing, it just goes to illustrate that plastic isn’t nowhere as cheap as most people think it is.

  4. […] than clear float glass.  But we have never held that opinion. If anything, we have always found it more expensive, more troublesome and more difficult to source even for the odd Customer who occasionally ordered […]

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