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The Ultimate Guide to Acrylic Care & Maintenance

Written by MS
21/06/2021 10:00:25

Acrylic is one of the most commonplace plastics around today, though it is found in many forms. You know acrylic as Perspex, Plexiglas, or Acrylite, as these are all different trade names for the same plastic material. 
The full name of acrylic is actually Poly(methyl methacrylate) or PMMA, but that’s quite long-winded, so we’re going to stick to simply ‘acrylic’. The material itself was developed back in 1928 and, like many other thermoplastics, is technically a form of glass. 
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that we use acrylic so widely in our homes as a substitute for glass. For instance, at The Plastic People, we create acrylic table tops, secondary glazing panels, plastic mirrors, and more. 
In this blog, we focus primarily on how you can look after your acrylic products to ensure they have long lifespans in your home. If you are looking for tips, tricks, and ideas on how you can use acrylic throughout your home, make sure to check out some of our others. 
The Benefits of Acrylic 
Before we get started with the ultimate care guide, we’re going to quickly gloss over the key benefits of acrylic. It goes without saying that acrylic is an extremely versatile material - and this can be summarised by a few important characteristics of this material. 
Acrylic is typically a glass substitute, as mentioned previously, and, as a material, it can often outperform glass. For example, acrylic is ten times stronger than glass, but only half the weight. It is more durable and shatterproof, meaning that it will not break into lots of sharp and small pieces like glass. 
Perhaps the biggest benefit of acrylic is its price point. As the material is cheaper than glass, it can be used in a wide range of scenarios at virtually any price bracket. This allows people to create home decor items they want - at a relatively low cost! 
In addition to clear-as-glass acrylic, the material is also available in a wide array of colours and finishes, including high gloss, sparkly, and mirrored. Click here to check out our entire range of acrylic materials and order your panels cut to any size or shape today! 
Due to its durability and low profile, acrylic can be stored almost anywhere. There are a few things to keep in mind, though:
  • Avoid storing acrylic in high temperatures or direct sunlight: Acrylic is a thermoplastic, which means its characteristics can be altered under extreme heat. If you store acrylic sheets in particularly hot environments, you will find the material could expand, bend or become warped. This typically only takes place when the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius. 
  • Use protective film for long-term storage: If you purchase acrylic panels - or any plastic - from us, you will see how important the packaging is to maintain the condition of the material. Acrylic can be scratched/marked, which is why you should use a protective film or sheet if you intend to store acrylic for a long time or in a place it can easily be scraped. You can, however, remove scratches from acrylic fairly easily, and we will discuss how a bit further down. 
Maintaining your acrylic and keeping it clean is a simple process. Another benefit of this plastic material is how hygienic it is. Acrylic can be wiped clean and disinfected with the majority of regular home cleaners, which is why it is commonly used for decor items such as kitchen and bathroom splashbacks
Here is our quick guide to keeping your acrylic materials clean:
  • Blow off any dust/debris: If you avoid using items, such as brushes, you can ensure that you do not damage the acrylic in the cleaning process. 
  • Use warm, soapy water and a sponge or microfiber cloth: You do not need to use any additional chemicals to clean acrylic. Make sure to clean with soft materials and not apply too much pressure to avoid scratching the material. 
  • To polish your acrylic, use plastic polish such as VuPlex: For the best finish, we recommend using polish that has been specifically designed for acrylic, such as VuPlex. Click here to get yours. 
  • Avoid using anything containing ammonia: Ammonia is a no-go chemical around acrylic as it can cause the plastic to turn cloudy, ruining the appearance of your plastic. You should also avoid items such as window and glass cleaners. 
  • Leave to air dry or use a clean cloth: Do not wipe your acrylic with paper towels or materials with a rough surface. Leaving acrylic to air-dry is absolutely fine. 
Thankfully, acrylic can be quite a forgiving material. Though you can often remove - or buff out - any surface-level scratches on the material, it’s best to take the preventative measures listed above to ensure your acrylic stays looking spick and span. 
We have produced an in-depth guide to removing scratches from acrylic on our blog site - and it was recently updated with the newest information. Click here to check it out. 
Here’s the shorter guide to removing scratches from acrylic.
  • Water
  • Sandpaper (600, 800 and 1200-grit ‘wet and dry’ sandpaper)
  • Acrylic Polish (VuPlex)
  • Begin with your 600-grit sandpaper. Wet the paper and begin rubbing it over the scratched area in a circular motion - alternate between wet and dry paper every 2-3 minutes.
  • Repeat the process with the higher grit sandpapers until the scratches begin to fade. 
  • Finally, dry the area with a soft and clean cloth before using your plastic polish (follow the directions on the bottle as these might change depending on the brand of polish). 
Naturally, deeper scratches may be harder to remove than lighter ones, but by and large, you should be able to make your acrylic look more presentable by following these steps. Our customer services team is available to answer any acrylic care questions you might have. You can email them at service@theplasticpeople.co.uk. 
You can also repair small cracks that appear in the acrylic by using a silicone sealant. If the crack is deep and on the surface, then you can directly introduce sealant. Some cracks may appear under the surface, and you can seal these by drilling a hole into the side of the plastic sheet and then inserting the sealant. 
Silicone sealant will help the acrylic retain its structural integrity, but only if the cracks are relatively small. If the acrylic panel is cracked along a large portion of the surface, it is best and safest to replace the plastic. Our customer service team can advise on which course is right for you. 
Static Charge 
It is not commonly known, but acrylic is a natural conductor of electricity. As static charge builds in the material, it can attract dust and other debris. This may also make the plastic harder to work with and install around the home. 
When cleaning or polishing your acrylic panels, you should use an anti-static spray and a cloth to neutralise any static build-up in the material. These cleaners are readily available online; look for brands such as Ambersil. 

That brings us to the end of this guide to caring for and maintaining your acrylic panels and sheets. As you can see, looking after the plastic is fairly easy and not particularly labour intensive. 
If you are in need of any plastic material cut to a specific size or shape, make sure to check out our online store. We have a personalised calculator that can give you an instant quote for your order. Click here to find out more. 
As always, our customer services are experts on everything plastic, so if you have queries regarding the care of your plastic sheets, get in touch! They can be emailed at service@theplasticpeople.co.uk. 
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