Note: This article contains affiliate links (hyperlinks, widgets, or through images), which means I receive compensation if you purchase a product through them. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. Visit my disclosure page for more information.
Plexiglass is perhaps the most coveted synthetic glass out there but it has one con—it’s expensive. Most home interior designers like the benefits of this material, but the price puts them off.
Plexiglass is usually shiny and transparent like glass yet a lot more durable. In this post, you’ll learn why despite its cost plexiglass might be the best choice for your windows.
The History of Acrylics and Plexiglass
Understanding plexiglass takes us back to its mother compound—acrylic. The history of acrylics dates back to 1933 when Otto Rohm was trying to experiment with the lamination of two glass plates. He intended to increase their resistance but instead, he “accidentally” created a new material that looked like glass.
Otto Rohm then patented Plexiglas in 1936 under his plastic manufacturing company. Even today, acrylic sheets are still useful due to their bending, milling, and hot forming qualities.
Acrylic sheets come in several forms, and plexiglass is one of them. Its scientific polymer name is poly(methyl methacrylate) which is often abbreviated as PMMA. In classification, the glass is a transparent thermoplastic.
The petroleum-based plastic is amorphous and non-crystalline, which is the result of a cooling inorganic liquid compound that hasn’t crystallized. So, unlike other acrylic compounds, plexiglass has a uniform, transparent mixture that earns it the “glass” attribute.
The plastic glass is transparent due to the absence of granules and particles in its composition. The cell cast acrylic is purer than other acrylics. This gives it a shiny, glassy look.
Plexiglas is the brand name, but the material is often called plexiglass. In simple terms, it refers to cell cast acrylic polymers such as lucite and acrylic. If you intend to buy the right synthetic glass, don’t order Fab Glass and Mirror acrylic sheets or plexiglass. Instead, go for names such as extruded acrylic or cell cast acrylic.
Ordinary acrylic sheets are quite different from the plexiglass. The latter has a harder surface than the former, which makes it ideal for use as a glass. It is also more resistant to solvents and other adhesive chemicals than other members of the acrylic family. The acrylic compounds are ordinarily soft and thus ideally used for gluing materials together.
Plexiglass materials often fade and discolor quicker if you expose them to chemicals such as ammonia and alcohol for a long time. Also, if you live in areas with high humidity and salt in the air, you will notice the material fading sooner than the warranty states as well.
Plexiglass Versus Glass
While glass is brittle and transparent and usually consists of silica material, the plexiglass is a soft inorganic compound.
Most glass surfaces reflect light more easily than acrylic surfaces. Although, sometimes, traditional glass produces unwanted reflections. So, the majority of aquariums are made of plexiglass due to its strength and ability to allow penetration of light.
Standard glass is often more affordable than acrylics. Of course, glass prices depend on size, thickness, and customizations.
When you consider the maintenance and erosion of both materials, plexiglass is cheaper than regular glass in the long run. However, regular glass is cheaper upfront.
Plexiglass is better at withstanding shatter than ordinary glass. Glass is basically a frozen liquid of amorphous material that shatters easily. Acrylic thermoplastics are softer than glass which means they can bend instead of breaking.
Plexiglass is versatile in that you can cut it into any shape you want. Glass, on the contrary, is a little more challenging to shape. The former is lighter than the latter, which makes it convenient for transportation and installation.
However, the plexiglass reacts with solvents and other cleaning agents which unfortunately cause scratches. While cleaning traditional glass is quite easy.
Why Plexiglass is Expensive
Unforuntaltey, manufacturing a synthetic material isn’t cheap. Plexiglass is formed in one of two ways: the extrusion or cell cast methods.
The extrusion method is less expensive, but it often produces softer plastics with surface impurities.
On the other hand, cell cast varieties have hard surfaces. The cell cast forms in a closed area, and this reduces contact with impurities. The closed process increases the cost of production and, inevitably, the price of plexiglass sheets.
Also, the use of petrochemicals in the manufacturing and recycling of plexiglass makes it more expensive as well.
Top Benefits of Plexiglass Sheeting
Traditional glass has dominated the window industry for years. But, these conventional methods are quickly coming to a stop due to the benefits of plexiglass. The material is durable and more efficient than ordinary glass which makes it far better for windows.
Below are some of the benefits of acrylic sheeting:
If you want superior strength for your windows, then you should consider using plexiglass. The material shatters at almost 20 times more impact than glass.
Also, no one gets injured when the sheeting breaks because it requires a lot of force to do that. And, even if it would break, the plastic would not hurt anyone as much as glass would do.
Easy to Cut
You do not need a diamond blade to cut through acrylic plastics. A table saw is enough to cut plexiglass to your favorite shapes and sizes.
This allows you to express your creativity and art in making custom home decor.
Plexiglass sheeting is clear and allows more than 90 percent of light to penetrate; which means it’s more transparent than conventional glass. That’s why glass reflects more light than this acrylic compound.
You can look at thick glass panes and notice a difference in color which shows it is not entirely transparent.
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.