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Many may not know that acrylic is an option for glazing when specifying interior sliding doors or operable walls. Folding glass partitions or glass conference room walls are often considered the de facto or only option when dividing interior spaces with something other than a traditionally framed wall, but acrylic (and other resins) have some distinct advantages.

What is acrylic glass or acrylic glazing?

Acrylic glass or glazing is a sheet material that is available in multiple colors, opacities and sizes and is a favorably comparable alternative to glass. Each material has its benefits and detractors, but in an application like a sliding wall or door there are some definite advantages when weighing glass vs acrylic.

What is glass?

This may seem obvious, but there are some important nuances when it comes to operable glass walls and sliding glass doors.  In these instances, the glass is at minimum tempered (heat-treated) for safety reasons or even tempered and laminated with a plastic material for more enhanced safety.

Pros and Cons Glass vs Acrylic Doors

Below is a quick reference chart to understand how acrylic and glass doors stack up in a variety of criteria.  Some of the key areas to consider when deciding between glass and acrylic are how they perform in impact resistance, scratch resistance, weight (as it affects operation, installation and more) and cost.

SafetyGlass must be tempered or laminated for flexibility, which can get expensive.Naturally durable, highly shatter-resistant and flexible.
WeightGlass doors are heavier than acrylic (twice the weight for the same panel size).Much lighter than glass (half the weight), similar to other resins.
Optical ClarityHigh level of clarity and light transmittance only if you opt for certain premium types like “low-iron”.Higher/better level of clarity and light transmittance for almost all types.
InstallationWeight and fragility require large steel supports, large crews, and heavy equipment to install (and often a specific union to handle).Light weight makes acrylic easy to ship, maneuver, support and install, saving cost on materials, labor and equipment.
Design FlexibilityMost product offerings on the market limit choice of materials; large panels require heavy, thick frames that may not suit all designs.Acrylic enhances the structure and allows for larger stiles and rails (if you choose) to fit aesthetic preferences.
Ease of UseWeight makes sliding doors harder to move and adds cost for motorization.Lightweight sliding acrylic doors take less effort to move and stop.
RepairabilityDurable and easy to fix scratches and nicks on unlaminated surfaces.Fine to medium scratches with untextured acrylic or other resin can be polished out.
Long-Term MaintenanceHeavy glass panels have inherently more stress and wear on hardware for sliding and folding door systems.The lighter weight of acrylic panels and the reduced demand they place on hardware and their installation means fewer if any maintenance needs.
RecyclabilityTempered glass doesn’t work in most recycling streams; laminated glass is never recycled.Highly recyclable, often available with up to 100% recycled content — like our Opal.
PriceMore expensive than acrylic after color, safety and/or privacy features; more expensive installation and hardware to support weight.Cost-effective, lightweight alternative to glass with easy shipping and installation.
Glass vs Acrylic – A comparison for sliding doors and operable walls.

What types of Doors & Walls Can Use Acrylic?

Acrylic works in a broad set of systems and with all types in our lineup including sliding walls, folding walls and even stacking wall systems or simple sliding barn doors.  The application areas or market uses for these acrylic “glass” based door systems have a nearly endless list of potential placements. From being an alternative to office glass doors and glass partition walls for offices to glass panel room dividers and residential glass wall systems, the opportunities to use acrylic-based door & walls are immense.

When to Choose Acrylic?

As expressed in the chart above, acrylic sliding walls and doors have a distinct advantage over glass door and glass operable walls in several key areas, but they boil down to simplicity of installation and ease of use, safety (reduced breakage) and cost. 

If you’d like to learn more, our design consultants are always available and happy to explain even more than what’s outlined here and walk you through possible solutions for your project. 

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