Acrylic is an extremely versatile material which is used in a wide range of environments. Acrylic sheeting is available in a huge range of variations, including; clear, coloured, mirrored, frosted and even with a brushed aluminium effect.
Extruded acrylic and cast acrylic are the two main types of sheet acrylic you will come across. Although they may initially look similar, the two have quite different properties and one is also much more expensive than the other.
It is important to be aware of the differences between the two so you can pick the type most suitable for your needs.
Extruded and cast acrylic sheets differ mainly in their thermal and chemical properties which are caused by the manufacturing process. There are also several other differences as outlined below which you may wish to consider when choosing acrylic sheet for your home DIY project.
Key differences you should be aware of when working with acrylic sheets:
Due to the way the sheets are made cast acrylic tend to have slight variations in the thickness of the sheet whereas extruded sheets are much more uniform, with next to no variation. This makes extruded acrylic ideal for vacuum forming or situations where more detailed precise shapes are needed.
Cast acrylic has an isotropic response to temperature meaning there is a maximum shrinkage of 2% in all directions. It may be important to note that acrylic expands and contracts at a much greater rate than glass. Extruded acrylic, on the other hand, shows differences in shrinkage depending on the thickness and direction of extrusion.
Benefits of Extruded sheets
Benefits of Cast acrylic sheets
Both types of acrylic benefit from being durable and long lasting, showing excellent resistance to natural aging. Most manufactures will guarantee against noticeable yellowing for approximately 10 years.
Often it may not be made obvious which type of acrylic you are buying, especially online. Cast acrylic can be as much as double the price of extruded acrylic so if nothing is mentioned and it seems cheap, the chances are it is extruded acrylic.
Plastic is one of the most versatile materials in the market that you can use in a wide variety of applications. The use of plastic ranges from making of children's toys to medical applications. Plastic sheets are one of the most common types of plastics that you will come across. Just like the other plastic materials, they have a wide range of applications. When buying them you need to consider a number of factors such as:
Different sizes of PVC have different uses. When making the purchase you should note that the thicker the plastic, the more expensive it is. The different thicknesses that you have to choose from include:
Light duty: These are 86 micron units that you use in protecting your paintings, furniture, and small home appliances.
Medium duty: They are 125-micron units you use to protect furniture. You can also use the plastic to store and transit furniture. Experts have also shown that they are highly effective in ground warming.
Heavy duty: Heavy duty plastics are 250 microns in size and ideal for weatherproofing, ground warming, wall covers, lawn care, and duty transit.
To get the most from your PVC sheet, you need to get the right thickness. If you will be using the unit outdoors, especially on the ground, you should go for one that is at least medium duty.
In addition to the color being a matter of personal preference, different colors are ideal for different applications. Clear polyethylene sheets are a great choice when you are interested in natural lighting. These sheets have great applications during home repairs and construction. You can also use them in creating walls and roots in greenhouses.
Black sheets are opaque and block most of the light. Just like their clear counterparts, they have wide applications in covering furniture and floor. There are some people that buy them in order to block light from reaching unwanted areas. Black sheets are heavily used in the agricultural setting where they are used to retain ground and keep weeds out.
These are two of the main factors that you should consider when buying PVC sheets. When making the purchase, consider the size of the sheet that you want. This should be informed by the area you want to use them. Also, pay close attention to the quality of the sheets. Just like when buying any other material, go for the highest quality of PVC that you can afford.