7 Tips – How To Choose Your "Glass Alternative" Splashback
Doing your own splashback can be tough. Glass is heavy and notoriously easy to break. And tiles are time consuming to install and leaves you with dreaded mouldy grout to clean.
Little wonder acrylic is fast becoming extremely popular for DIY-ers. It’s 25 times stronger than glass and only half the weight. This makes it easy to install and very safe. There’s no risk of it shattering. And some (although not all as you’ll soon discover) acrylic splashbacks look identical to glass.
Here are 7 tips to choosing an acrylic splashback.
Tip 1. Is it high quality acrylic?
First things first; ensure it is acrylic that you are looking at & not inferior polymer material.
Establishing the material used and a quick google search on the material will also give you an insight on what’s in the product and how safe it actually is.
There is a huge variety in the quality of acrylics. Some are produced in clean, state of the art factories from high quality resins. While others come from lower quality factories and use lower quality resins, producing acrylic with spots and imperfections which affect their durability and longevity. When choosing your splashback, trust your eye. Does it look like glass, or more like plastic?
Is it a particular brand of acrylic or it is the company’s "own" brand?
What is the reputation and history of the product and is the acrylic a particular brand or the company’s own brand? Finding out how long the acrylic (including the brand) has been on the market helps you compare proven durability and longevity of the acrylic as the last thing you want is you splashback yellowing and/or cracking.
What exactly does the warranty cover?
Warranties can vary a lot, much like the quality of the acrylic. And generally the better the warranty, the more confidence the supplier has in their product. Things to look out for are:
- How long is the warranty for?
- Do you have to write in/contact the manufacturer for a longer warranty?
- Is it limited to indoor use only?
- Is there a sliding scale on the warranty – ie the warranty reduces over time?
Simple is best. Your warranty should last a long time, you shouldn’t have to contact the manufacturer to get an extension and not limit itself to UV and /or indoor use only and not have a complicated sliding scale.
How thick is the polymer/acrylic?
Is it 4mm, 4.5mm or 6mm? Glass splashbacks are typically 6mm which gives it it’s stunning depth of colour. The thinner the acrylic the less depth of colour, and the more it looks like coloured plastic rather than glass.
Is it flimsy?
The thinner the acrylic the greater the flex. Also different types of polymer/acrylics flex more than others. Why is flex important? Ever seen fun house mirrors? If your polymer/acrylic splashback is very flexible and you have a wall that is not perfectly straight you risk getting that effect!
Check to see whether the acrylic is extruded or cast. Extruded is softer than cast acrylic and is therefore more flimsy.
The thinner the acrylic splashback, the cheaper the cost to purchase. But you get what you pay for & that’s is certainly the case for acrylic splashbacks! Thin acrylic splashbacks will not look like glass, they look like a sheet of coloured plastic because they lack the depth (from being thinner) – especially when looking at kitchen, bathroom and laundry panel sizes.
To achieve the glass look ask for 6mm PMMA cast acrylic.
Innovative Splashbacks® use 6mm PMMA cast acrylic and it is a BRAND of PMMA (Plexiglas®). The Plexiglas® PMMA acrylic has been used around the world in commercial and residential applications since 1933 from aircraft windows and windscreens, commercial aquariums, ice hockey protection screens, glazing to even bone cement for human surgical procedures. Plexiglas® is even backed with the manufacturers guarantee not to UV yellow for 30 years.
Tip 2. Make sure it’s perfectly clear & it looks like a glass splashbacks and not coloured plastic or glossy vinyl
The acrylic Innovative Splashbacks uses looks exactly like glass and its even clearer than glass with absolutely no green tinge. It’s optically clear – as clear as optical glasses. There’s a huge difference between optically clear acrylic and lower quality acrylic. One looks exactly like glass splashbacks while the other looks like coloured plastic.
Tip 3. Compare the TOTAL cost
Most acrylic splashbacks are supplied in single sheets of a set size. And remember, while the cost-per-metre may be less, you are forced to purchase an entire sheet and you pay for what you don’t use. This often makes cut-to-size less expensive since you don’t pay for wastage.
Also include any cutting fees. Some suppliers charge exorbitant fees to cut acrylic splashbacks, while most won’t supply cut-to-size at all. And if you cut it yourself you must factor in your time and labour as well.
Do you have to pick up your splashbacks? Can you fit them into your car? Everyone typically charges for delivery, but we have sourced the best prices for fast, reliable delivery of our splashbacks directly to your door, nationwide.
Some large hardware stores charge very high prices for delivery, even across town. We have seen numerous instances where our delivery charges to interstate clients are lower than across town hardware store charges.
Tip 4. Does it come with a play piece?
If you choose to cut it yourself ask if it comes with a play piece. This is smaller piece you can use to check your cutting process first. You don’t want to get this wrong on your 'live' pieces; it can get very costly when you begin replacing panels. Innovative Splashbacks® have always come with a play piece.
Tip 5. Does it come with easy to follow instructions, and is installation quick and easy?
Check you get access to an easy to follow installation guide. Even though it’s quite simple to install you don’t want to make any mistakes because you weren’t given the right information.
Tip 6. Can you get help when you need it?
We recognised the need to have help available outside hours for people doing installations in the evening or on weekends. If you’re installing your splashback, and you need to ask a question then make sure you can. Ask how easy it is to get help, and make sure you’re not restricted to office hours only, or worse still a call centre without any real product expertise available.
Tip 7. What is the colour method?
ou may think there’s no difference between spray painted acrylic and extruded acrylic with a colour layer 'glued' to the back. However, the difference becomes obvious when you compare them side by side and right next to glass splashbacks. This is even more apparent larger kitchen, laundry and bathroom panels versus smaller "sample" pieces.
The 'glued' or 'bonding' process lacks the depth and vibrancy of spray painted acrylic and it pales in comparison when you compare it to glass. And because it’s mass produced you can’t choose a custom colour.
We spray paint our 6mm cast German made acrylic, exactly like glass splashbacks so it is vibrant, has depth and in fact looks exactly like a glass splashback. Plus our splashbacks are available in metallic colours, and people can choose their own colour to perfectly complement their kitchen or bathroom decor.
Extruded colour layer 'glued' to the back acrylics are prone to yellowing and colour fade with time and when exposed to UV, and this is reflected in the warranty offered. We offer a full 10 year warranty. Most offer far less, try and force you to "contact" for extensions and only limit their product to a "UV Warranty", even reducing their warranty by 10% each year.
In summary, there are many acrylic splashbacks on the market including other inferior polymer materials. The range of products, quality and suppliers ranges widely. Make sure you follow these 7 tips and make sure your acrylic splashback really is The Affordable Luxury.