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The Pros and Cons of Using Plexiglass versus Regular Glass

A picture of fish framed in a dark colored wood frame showing different slices of glasses that will help protecct the colors used in the artwork from fading.
Plexi glass sample board

When it comes to custom picture framing, choosing the right glazing material is crucial for preserving and protecting your artwork. Two popular options are plexiglass (acrylic) and regular glass, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. In this educational blog, we'll delve into the differences between plexiglass and regular glass, explore how UV rays affect printed ink in artwork, and understand which colors are most vulnerable to fading.

Plexiglass vs. Regular Glass

Plexiglass (Acrylic):

  • Transparency: Plexiglass is known for its exceptional clarity, making it an excellent choice for framing artworks that require maximum visibility.

  • Weight: Plexiglass is significantly lighter than regular glass, which can be an advantage when framing large or heavy artworks.

  • Durability: Plexiglass is less prone to breakage than regular glass and is shatter-resistant, making it a safer option for high-traffic areas or homes with children and pets.

  • UV Protection: Many types of plexiglass come with built-in UV protection, which helps shield your artwork from harmful UV rays.

Regular Glass:

  • Transparency: Regular glass offers excellent clarity but may have a slight greenish tint, which can affect the color accuracy of your artwork, especially when used with non-UV coated glass.

  • Weight: Glass is heavier than plexiglass, so it may require sturdier framing and hanging mechanisms.

  • Fragility: Glass is more fragile and prone to breakage, making it a less forgiving choice, especially in environments where accidents can happen.

  • UV Protection: Standard glass does not have built-in UV protection and allows harmful UV rays to reach your artwork.

UV Rays and Their Effects on Artwork

UV rays (ultraviolet rays) are a part of the natural sunlight and artificial light spectrum. When these rays come into contact with printed ink in artwork, they can cause gradual damage over time. Here's how UV rays affect artwork:

  1. Fading: UV rays can accelerate the fading of printed ink and pigments in artwork, leading to a loss of color vibrancy and clarity.

  2. Yellowing: Over time, UV exposure can cause paper and other materials to yellow, which is particularly noticeable in white or light-colored areas of the artwork.

  3. Deterioration: UV rays can also contribute to the breakdown of materials, such as paper, leading to brittleness and a reduction in overall longevity.

Colors Most Vulnerable to Fading

Not all colors in artwork fade at the same rate when exposed to UV rays. Some pigments are more vulnerable than others. Here's a general guideline on which colors are more likely to fade first:

  1. Blues: Blue pigments, particularly those derived from organic sources, tend to be the most vulnerable to fading when exposed to UV rays.

  2. Reds: Reds are also susceptible to fading, especially those based on organic dyes or pigments.

  3. Yellows: Yellow pigments, especially those with organic components, may fade over time but tend to be more stable than blues and reds.

  4. Blacks and Grays: Black and gray pigments are usually the most stable and least likely to fade.

In the world of custom picture framing, the choice between plexiglass and regular glass involves considering factors like transparency, weight, durability, and UV protection. Understanding how UV rays affect printed ink in artwork and which colors are most susceptible to fading empowers you to make an informed decision when it comes to preserving and protecting your valuable art pieces. Whether you opt for plexiglass with built-in UV protection or regular glass with external UV coating, your choice can significantly impact the longevity and vibrancy of your framed artwork.

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