skip to Main Content

Acrylic vs Glass

In the world of pool and aquarium building, there is always a debate about the best materials for constructing a particular setting. One of the trending topics to this day has been the comparison between acrylic vs glass windows.

Both materials are durable and adequate for pools and aquariums, but they have unique characteristics that make one better than the other in certain situations. If you are wondering which is the best choice, we can help you figure out. 

In our guide, we will compare the materials in terms of their durability, impact resistance, light transmission, weight, and other important factors. Let’s start!

 

Acrylic vs Glass
Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: Yuriy Bartenev

Acrylic vs Glass

We need to start with their similarities to understand the comparison between the two materials better. The first similarity is their use. Both acrylic and glass can be used for pools and aquariums with a transparent design. In addition, they can withstand high pressures.

You may not see a big difference as someone who enjoys the visual and practical benefits of acrylic and glass wall pools and aquariums. Luckily, we are here to explain the pros and cons of each material from an expert point of view so that you can make the right decision.

Thermal conductivity

Is acrylic better than glass regarding thermal conductivity? Generally looking, the acrylic material is a better heat insulator. The insulation of acrylic glass is approximately 0.19 W/mK, while laminated glass has 0.79 W/mK.

So, if you are building a heated pool, the better option will be going with acrylic because it reduces the temperature transfer more efficiently than glass. However, when it comes to aquariums, our recommendation will depend on the species you plan to keep in it. If you plan to have certain species that need cold water, you should opt for glass framing.

Optical transmission

When it comes to light transmission, acrylic sheets are generally better than glass. Depending on the manufacturer, acrylic walls may transmit up to 92% of the light, while the percentages for glass are lower, ranging between 68% and 74%.

Another important consideration we always tell our clients is the shade or tint of the materials. Comparing the view of acrylic vs glass, you will notice that glass walls tend to have a greenish tint.

Scratch resistance

Regarding scratch resistance, the ultimate answer depends on the type of glass and acrylics you are comparing. Generally looking, glass is relatively more scratch-resistant than acrylic. Due to their softer surface and vulnerability, most acrylic sheets are prone to abrasion and scratching.

However, there are acrylic sheets that have a scratch-resistant coating. It acts as extra protection for the material, achieving almost the same scratch-resistant level as glass.

Many clients also ask us: which is stronger plexiglass or acrylic? If you are one of them, we are sorry to disappoint, but plexiglass and acrylic are the same. Many like to use the term ‘Plexiglas’ as a brand name for acrylic plastic.

Weight and malleability

Comparing the weight and malleability of acrylic vs glass is also important. Acrylic as a material is generally lighter as a material, sometimes half the weight of the glass. The acrylic windows have a density ranging between 1150-1190 kg/m³.

As a lightweight material, acrylic is easier to install and form into different shapes. We can bend and mold it to fit the desired space. Although glass can also be curved, the process is more complicated and restricted.

Safety

In your pool or aquarium, safety should be your number one priority. So, is acrylic stronger than glass, as many believe?

If the main factor about the safety is shatter-resistant material, then acrylic is the clear winner. It is typically more impact-resistant than glass and can’t shatter. Many say that acrylic is 17 times stronger, while glass can crack and break into tiny pieces.

Maintenance

Both materials are easy to maintain. However, the main difference is what you can use to clean it. Acrylic is less chemically resistant than glass. Glass is often more robust.

Hence, you can clean it with various cleaning agents without damaging it. Conversely, acrylic sheets are more sensitive and can only be cleaned with mild soap and warm water.

Maintenance
Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: alexandre zveiger

Price

When you are comparing the acrylic vs glass price, you should know that there are many factors you should consider. Not all glass walls and acrylic sheets are built the same. The quality and prices may vary between manufacturers. Yet, as a rule of thumb, glass walls are more affordable than acrylic sheets.

Aside from the initial cost of the material, although glass is cheaper, the installation costs might be higher. Additionally, considering maintenance and repair expenses, acrylic can be more affordable if you look in the long run.

Conclusion

Both acrylic and glass windows are excellent choices for aquariums and pools. However, which one is the winner in the acrylic vs glass debate depends on your circumstances and needs.

The materials have distinct advantages and drawbacks. If you still have doubts about which material to choose, you can contact us for personalized advice. On the other hand, if you already have a project proposal, you can request a free quote online in a few simple steps.

Neal Moir

Neal Moir

is the owner at Titan Aquatic Exhibits and brings more than a decade in aquarium and acrylic pool wall manufacturing experience.

Back To Top