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Acrylic vs Metal Prints: Which is Better?
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Acrylic vs Metal Prints: Which is Better?

If your goal is to get an art print, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether we’re talking about indoor wall art or a piece of art for outdoor spaces, choosing the right kind of prints is an important aspect to consider.

Sure, regular photos are fine, but even high-quality photo paper degrades with time. For this reason, many people might choose acrylic material or metal prints (mainly aluminum prints, among others), for both durability and aesthetic purposes.

Both acrylic prints and metal prints make for good print options, particularly for high-traffic areas, but there are some differences between metal prints and acrylic prints that you need to know about. Let’s figure out what both of these display options entail and what it means to have your favorite photos printed on these materials.

 

Important Differences: Metal vs Acrylic Prints

Let’s take a quick look at all of the major differences between metal prints and acrylic prints, so you know what you’re getting into.

Materials

As you might be able to tell, the major difference here is of course that metal prints are made by printing images right onto a metal sheet. Metal prints may be made of aluminum sheets, steel, titanium, or other metals too.

The bottom line is that here you get an image on a metal surface. Many people love the glossy finish it produces, a big difference when compared to something like canvas prints. Acrylic glass prints are made with an acrylic sheet, which in simplest terms, is a durable and aesthetically appealing type of plastic.

Appearance

In terms of the overall appearance, metal prints can have a matte finish or a glossy finish, with the glossy options being reflective and contrasting. Many people like this modern twist. The modern and sleek appearance is ideal for a variety of spaces, especially when you’re looking to create a gallery quality display with brilliant colors.

However, in terms of acrylic prints, these can make for an excellent choice as well, mainly because they tend to offer a lot of clarity and depth. In some cases, if well-executed, acrylic prints can produce an almost 3D appearance, something that can really bring photo prints to life.

Durability

When it comes to the different types of prints and their durability, metal prints are definitely the more durable of the two. They have great scratch and impact resistance, and if the right kind of metal is used, great corrosion resistance as well. Although acrylic doesn’t break easily, it is susceptible to scratching, which makes it a less attractive option for high-traffic areas.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic and Metal Prints

Now that we know what the three major differences are when choosing to print your favorite images on metal or acrylic, let's talk about what the pros and cons of metal prints and acrylic prints are. If you know what the pros and cons are, it should help you make a choice between acrylic and metal prints for all of your favorite photographs.

Acrylic Print Pros

  • Acrylic prints allow for great brilliance and visual depth, as the colors are enhanced by the transparent qualities of this material. The depth of color and the overall sense of depth is out of this world!
  • These prints produce a very modern and sophisticated look which most people would say is ideal for a gallery.
  • Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of acrylic prints is that they are not susceptible to UV damage.
  • Acrylic wall art may not be totally scratch proof but it is very impact resistant.

Acrylic Print Cons

  • Acrylic prints are easily scratched.
  • Acrylic prints can be relatively costly depending on the source.
  • The other issue with acrylic prints is that they attract dust and fingerprints, which means that they need to be cleaned often.

Metal Print Pros

  • Metal prints offer great durability, both to impact and scratching, as well as to weather, making them suitable for both indoor display and outdoor display.  Being water resistant is a huge bonus here.
  • If you are going for a contemporary appearance that works well with many types of modern décor.
  • Surprisingly, even though metal prints are durable, they’re also quite lightweight.
  • If you really want those colors to pop, then the reflective surface of metal certainly makes for an ideal choice.

Metal Print Cons

  • When compared to other materials, metal prints don’t have quite as many finish options.
  • Some people may find that the reflectivity of metal is distracting.

 

How to Choose the Best Option for Your Photos

Before you make a choice, let’s talk about the main considerations that you should keep in mind when choosing the best material for your photography prints.

Location

Perhaps one of the most important considerations that you need to make when choosing to print your art images on either acrylic or metal is the location. Are you at home, are you looking to create an industrial appearance, do you want it to look more like classic art galleries, is it an office space, or even a commercial space? The aesthetic appeal you're going for should fit with the space in question.

The Environment

The next important consideration is the environment. If you are planning to have your artwork outdoors, then the overall durability of metal is ideal. However, if you want to hang your prints indoors, and you want to take advantage of indirect lighting, then acrylic works well. Indirect light can help display the vibrant colors of an acrylic piece without reflectivity issues.

Your Desired Effect

If you’re going for a contemporary appearance or a super modern look, then metal prints work well, but if you want a more artistic feeling with plenty of depth, then acrylic prints are likely best.

Maintenance

Acrylic prints attract a lot more dust and fingerprints than metal prints, and therefore require more regular maintenance and cleaning.

 

Prices: Acrylic vs Metal Prints

Interesting to note is that although metal might sound like the more expensive option of the two, this is generally not the case. An average metal print of 16x20 inches might cost up to $150, whereas the same size of acrylic print could easily cost $200 or more.

This is mainly due to the extensive manufacturing process of printing associated with acrylic prints. Acrylic printing is surprisingly labor intensive! Of course, the cost does also depend on the printing company in question.

Are They Worth the Money?

What it comes down to is that if you want your art prints to be displayed on a highly durable material, you are looking for a specific aesthetic appeal, and you need something that can handle a high-traffic area, then yes, both metal prints and acrylic prints are worth the money.

 

Metal or Acrylic - What is the Best Material to Print Art On?

If we are talking about the differences between metal and acrylic specifically, this really depends on your individual case. If you’re looking for a modern feel with an industrial look, bright colors, great durability, and a color pop, along with low maintenance, then metal is best. However, if you want your art to look more refined and you want it to have a lot of depth, then acrylic is likely the better option.

 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, both metal prints and acrylic prints have their pros and cons to think about. Now that you know what they are, you can make an informed decision between the two.

 

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