Wondering what’s better for wall art, acrylic or metal prints?
This guide to acrylic vs. metal prints will help you make up your mind.
It gives you an overview of both print types, their advantages, and disadvantages.
After reading this article, you’ll be able to make an informed decision based on several factors, such as durability, quality, looks, thickness, and photo print sizes.
The guide also highlights your printing options on either media. Keep reading for more about these determining factors.
Table of Contents
What Are Acrylic Prints?
Acrylic printing is a modern printing method. It requires a high-quality photo and an acrylic sheet. Acrylic prints are vivid and crisp, thanks to the reflection of light onto the acrylic sheet.
Types of Acrylic Prints
Acrylic prints are usually made via one of two methods. Make sure you know which type your printing company uses:
- Face-mount acrylic print: This method involves printing the photo on high-quality photo paper and mounting it onto the back of an acrylic sheet.
- Direct print: As its name implies, this type entails printing the photo directly on the acrylic sheet.
If you compare the two methods, the face-mount printing method is better. The direct printing method produces prints with decreased sharpness and wasted details. That’s all due to the process’s reduced dynamic range and harsh transition.
Printing directly on acrylic doesn’t produce the same contrast as face-mounting. When the image is printed directly on the acrylic, the photo’s details get lost in highlights and shadows.
Therefore, when making the deal, ask the printing company for a face-mount acrylic print. That way, you can get the best quality for your acrylic wall art.
Advantages of Acrylic Prints
Acrylic prints are a modern, sleek addition to your decor. Here are some of their many advantages:
- The top acrylic layer shields the photo and protects it against wear and tear.
- Acrylic can withstand severe weather conditions.
- Unlike paper or canvas prints, acrylic prints are long-lasting.
- Acrylic is waterproof and easy to clean.
- The image will appear vibrant with sharp details.
Disadvantages of Acrylic Prints
On the flip side, acrylic isn’t entirely flawless. It’s important to know their disadvantages to make an informed decision:
- If not treated properly, you can see lots of scratches on the surface of your acrylic print.
- You should choose the right place for your acrylic print—somewhere with no strong glare.
- Acrylic prints can be quite heavy, especially with larger-size photos.
What Are Metal Prints?
Otherwise called aluminum prints, metal prints involve printing high-quality photos over an aluminum sheet via a process called dye-sublimation.
The resulting piece of art is usually sturdy and distinctive.
Types of Metal Prints
Similar to acrylic printing, the process of printing on metal comes in two ways:
- Transfer print: This method entails printing the photo on special transfer photo paper and then moving it on a metal surface.
- Direct print: The photo is printed directly on an aluminum sheet of premium quality.
Regarding metal printing, the transfer print method produces better-quality prints. This process involves applying heat and pressure using a heat press to transfer the photo from the special paper to an aluminum sheet.
The transfer print technique offers a more durable and scratch-proof metal print. In addition, an image produced that way is of more high definition with superb details and color vibrancy than that printed directly on metal.
Advantages of Metal Prints
In addition to their industrial and attractive look, there are several advantages to using metal prints, such as:
- Metal prints are lightweight even for large posters.
- The lifespan of metal prints can exceed 100 years given the right conditions.
- Metal prints can resist ultraviolet rays and high humidity.
- They’re scratch and fire-resistant.
- You can easily clean metal prints with a damp cloth.
Disadvantages of Metal Prints
On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages to metal printing, including:
- Metal prints can fade if exposed to direct sunlight for a long time.
- You have to use a photo with high resolution.
The Similarities Between Acrylic and Metal Prints
Despite using different materials for distinct looks and effects, acrylic and metal prints share some similarities, such as:
Both printing methods produce durable artwork that’s built to last. They’re both waterproof, which enables you to display them in humid rooms, such as basements and bathrooms.
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Metal and acrylic designs can withstand everyday wear and tear too. They’re made of sturdy materials with vibrant colors that’ll last for over a century.
The two printing techniques offer excellent results. In any case, you need a high-quality photo to make both prints, regardless of the size – see how big you can print a photo.
Metal prints feature a metallic sheen with deep colors and sharp details. On the other hand, the acrylic layer over your photo gives it a deep 3D-like look, making it a jaw-dropping beauty.
A wide range of frames are available for both metal and acrylic prints in a variety of picture frame sizes. The best part is that framing is optional; it’s rather a matter of personal preference.
You can frame your photo if you’re after a classic ambiance, or if you’re dealing with a small photo or a huge poster that you’d like to define and help stand out.
You should also consider the size of the frame mat when calculating what overall size you’d like for your metal or acrylic print.
Ease of Maintenance
Fortunately, metal and acrylic prints are easy to clean with nothing but a damp cloth. You can wipe dirt away from a metal print. As for acrylic prints, clean them like you clean your windows.
That said, you should be cautious when cleaning acrylic prints because they aren’t scratch-resistant. They can get fine scratches if you’re not careful enough.
Both metal and acrylic prints come ready to be hung on the walls. Although acrylic is a little heavier, they’re both light enough to safely remain on your walls without spoiling them.
Acrylic prints contain invisible mounting hardware that your guests won’t detect. On the other hand, metal prints have metal brackets attached to their back. That way, both models are easy to handle and display.
You can create your unique personal signature style by customizing both acrylic and metal prints. The two models come in a variety of shapes and sizes to choose from.
This may entail resizing your photo for print, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Both printing techniques work well with all photo sizes, provided that the photo has a high resolution.
The Differences Between Acrylic and Metal Prints
Now, here’s the core of our comparison. You should consider these differences before you choose your printing method:
Metal prints win this aspect, as they’re scratch-resistant, unlike acrylic or glass photo prints. Thus, you don’t need to worry about any damage that may occur while moving, for instance.
This feature makes metal prints more suitable for outdoor areas. They won’t be affected by the wind and dust in the air.
Photo Print Sizes
Metal prints work for large photos, and acrylic is best for smaller ones!
Depending on the printing company, you may find that metal printing offers more options if you want large photo posters that measure up to several feet high. They’re lighter and easier to handle in metal.
On the other hand, when it comes to super small sizes, you can get equal quality from both the stunning mini metal prints and acrylic blocks.
In this respect, metal is a clear winner as they’re a lot lighter than acrylic. This feature makes metal printing the way to go if you plan to transport your photos to a gallery or exhibition.
Acrylic prints are usually heavy, though their actual weight depends on the providing company. In other words, moving several metal prints at once may be easier, making them more handy.
Looks and Decor
Metal prints are more on the elegant side. They suit traditional and industrial decor. On the other hand, acrylic prints tend to suit more modern settings.
When it comes to how they look, both types are stunningly beautiful. However, they don’t match their surroundings equally.
Here’s another aspect where the two models feature a striking difference!
Metal prints are suitable almost anywhere, especially outdoors, with their UV resistance. However, when dealing with acrylic prints, you need to consider the glare. The acrylic glossy finish reflects light, causing a vivid distraction to viewers.
To resolve this problem, don’t place your acrylic image in direct light. Try hanging your acrylic wall art where the reflected light won’t affect the details of the photo.
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Metal prints are way thinner than acrylic prints.
That’s a determinant factor when you’re planning your display style. Thus, if you’re considering using a float mount hanging system, go for metal prints.
The floating style displays your images half an inch away from the wall, which adds to the thickness of the image. In this case, acrylic prints will be a bit too thick.
Acrylic prints win here!
They don’t require as much energy as metal prints to produce. That makes acrylic printing a more sustainable practice.
So, if you care about your ecological footprint, go for acrylic rather than metal. However, for an even more eco-friendly option, check out canvas prints.
Acrylic prints are more expensive. If you’re on a budget or printing many photos, go for metal printing. It’s also worth noting that both types of prints are on the more expensive side; paper and canvas prints are usually cheaper.
Depending on the printing company, acrylic prints may cost double or triple the price of metal prints. We also recommend that you consult the company’s price list before picking a method.
The Final Touches
Metal prints offer a wider variety of finishes. For instance, you can get them with a matte or a glossy finish. The choice depends primarily on where you’ll place them.
On the other hand, acrylic prints come mostly with a glossy finish. Think of it as a signature feature. Although you can get matte acrylic prints, they’re not as common and won’t look as good.
Printing Options for Acrylic and Metal Prints
Once you decide, you can take your choice to a new level. Both acrylic and metal prints offer various options that may cause subtle changes in the appearance of your photo.
That said, regardless of your choice, you’ll still get quality results. All we’re saying is that you should choose wisely to ensure you get what suits your space and needs.
Acrylic Prints Options
For starters, acrylic prints involve traditional printing on paper as a preliminary step. That’s where your options appear.
To control the glare that’s an innate feature of acrylic prints, you can choose from a variety of photo printing paper types.
For instance, your options include matte, glossy, and luster paper. While glossy paper is standard and offers the most vibrant color tones, matte reduces the glare to a great extent. You can go in between with luster paper for a soft glow.
Metal Prints Options
If you pick metal prints, you’ll find two metal colors that give distinct effects. For example, you may choose to print on white or silver metal.
Printing on white metal produces bright and accurate color tones. That makes it perfect for highly detailed images of natural scenes. It highlights the photo’s vibrant colors and fine details.
On the other hand, silver metal is ideal for highly contrasting images, such as black and white photos.
The silver color of the metal appears in the highlights of the image, which makes the rich contrasts stand out. That’s why you should place your silver metal print in a well-lit space; otherwise, it’ll look dim.