We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Acrylic is a pretty incredible and versatile material. You can find it in fake fingernails, aquarium glass, electronic screens, and furniture. Acrylic is also affordable, comes in a variety of colors, and is quite impact-resistant. So, what’s the downside to this material?
Since many of the uses for acrylic require it to be transparent, scratches might ruin an acrylic sheet before it ever gets used. Does acrylic scratch easily?
Yes, acrylic scratches easily because it is a soft material. Acrylic is shatter-proof and stiff, but it is not hard, and hardness is what determines if a material will scratch easily or not.
Just because acrylic is vulnerable to scratches doesn’t limit its uses, but it does mean that those of us looking to use acrylic for projects need to be aware of how easily the surface can be damaged.
Let’s look into acrylic, how easily it can be scratched, and how to get rid of those pesky scratches!
Is Acrylic Easily Scratched?
Acrylic won’t shatter or break easily and is as clear as glass without being nearly as fragile. Unfortunately, the downfall of acrylic is its lack of hardness.
Acrylic is easily scratched, and precautions must be taken to keep it in good shape, especially if it needs to remain completely transparent. Scratched acrylic is harder to see through.
Some acrylic sheets will come covered in a scratch-resistant coating, which can make the acrylic stand up a little better to rough handling, but even these coatings won’t last forever. It’s a good practice to be careful with acrylic no matter what.
There are a few safe practices when dealing with acrylic that can help keep it looking brand new for as long as possible. Some of these practices include:
- Only polishing with a soft, microfiber cloth.
- If using an acrylic fish tank, make sure there is no sand on your clean cloth or sponge before polishing, since even a single grain of sand can do damage to acrylics.
- When placing objects on an acrylic sheet or tabletop, put a piece of felt between the object and the acrylic. Some acrylic users even attach hot glue and felt to the contact points on objects they plan on displaying on top of acrylics to avoid any accidental scratches.
- Avoid coarse sponges, scrub clothes, and steel wool when cleaning acrylic.
Can You Get Scratches Out of Acrylic?
Yes! Even though acrylic scratches rather easily, the scratches can thankfully be removed in just a few simple steps.
Oddly enough, to remove scratches from acrylic, you’ll need sandpaper. It may seem counterproductive to use something so coarse to remove scratches, but you’re actually buffing the scratches out, not removing them.
To get rid of all the scratches on your acrylic, you need 3 different grits of sandpaper: 600 grit, 800 grit, and 1200 grit. Make sure to have at least two of each grit, because you’ll be alternating between wet and dry sandpaper when buffing scratches from acrylic.
Here’s how to remove scratches from acrylic using sandpaper:
Step 1: Wet one piece of the 600 grit sandpaper and rub it over the scratched acrylic in a circular motion, repeating this step with the dry sandpaper. Alternate between the wet and the dry sandpaper for 5 minutes.
Step 2: Repeat step 1 with the 800 grit sandpaper, alternating between wet and dry sandpaper for around 5 minutes. At this point, your acrylic may begin to look cloudy or even more scratched, but don’t be discouraged, it’s all part of the process.
Step 3: Continue with the wet and dry alternating sandpaper using the 1200 grit paper. Once the scratches have disappeared completely, dry the acrylic with a soft cloth, preferably microfiber.
Does Acrylic Scratch Easier Than Glass?
Yes, even though acrylic is tougher to break than glass, it scratches easier, because glass is harder than acrylic.
Acrylics are used as glass substitutes because acrylic is more lightweight and offers no risk of dangerous shattering. This is especially helpful with small children, making acrylic a safer choice for many children’s electronics.
Even though acrylic is much more difficult to break than glass, it is actually softer. Since whether something can be scratched or not depends on its hardness, acrylic is easier to scratch than glass because glass is harder.
Do Acrylic Sheets Scratch Easy?
Since not all acrylic sheets have an anti-scratch coating applied to them during production, most acrylic sheets will scratch easily.
Luckily, you can apply a scratch-resistant coating to your acrylics at home. There are a variety of products that will make your acrylic much less likely to be scratched.
Since acrylic sheets scratch easily, be extremely careful when storing them. Simply stacking them all on top of each other can lead to scratches, especially if a sharp piece of detritus gets caught between two sheets. Using some sort of paper or cloth between each sheet of acrylic is recommended.
Do Acrylic Aquariums Scratch Easily?
One of the most popular usages for acrylic sheets is the art of aquarium manufacturing. Acrylic can make durable fish tanks that will never shatter while still being as clear as glass, but they have the downside of being vulnerable to scratching.
Acrylic aquariums can scratch easily, and unfortunately, it isn’t safe to apply an anti-scratch coating to the inside of an acrylic aquarium because the chemicals could leech into the water and harm the fish.
You can use anti-scratch coatings on the outside of the tank as long as you’re careful not to get any coating on the inside.
Loose substrates like sand and gravel commonly scratch acrylic aquariums, as well as sharp decorations and algae-scraping tools. Always check that any decorations or tools you use in your aquarium won’t scratch the acrylic.
Many aquarium tool companies make cleaning sponges and scrapers that are specifically for acrylic tanks and guarantee no scratches even with vigorous cleaning.
Will Acrylic Scratch Acrylic?
Yes, acrylic can be scratched by other pieces of acrylic, but only if significant pressure is applied.
Not all acrylics are exactly the same, so it’s safe to say that some acrylics are harder than others. A harder acrylic will be able to scratch a softer acrylic.
Not all acrylic is created equal. Some acrylics that are lower quality will be less clear, weaker, and even more prone to scratching than usual. The strongest type of acrylic plastic on the market is lucite.
Since lucite is stronger and harder than other types of acrylics, it could easily scratch a lower quality acrylic, especially if the lower quality acrylic was scratched with a sharp edge of lucite. Keep this in mind when storing your acrylic sheets!
Is Acrylic Heat Resistant?
Acrylic is very resistant to heat, so much so that normal household use will almost never melt acrylic. It doesn’t melt completely until it reaches 320 °F (160 °C).
What Temperature Does Acrylic Soften?
While acrylic won’t start to melt until it reaches 320 °F (160 °C), it starts to soften at a slightly lower temperature. Acrylic will soften at 210-220°F (99°-104°C).
Does Polycarbonate Scratch Easily?
Polycarbonate is stronger, and more flexible than acrylic, but it can also be easily scratched.