Want to learn how to clean acrylic? Here’s how to master this picture framing essential…

Written by chris pink on January 16, 2014 in Picture Framing

Here at Picture Frame Studio, we’re not exactly sure who created the first sheet of acrylic and realised it was a very handy thing to use instead of glass in a picture frame, but we know this much: if you do it properly, framing with it is simple and effective.

In its many list of attributes is the fact that it’s infinitely lighter than glass, making it ideal for posting out to our customers, and the way it flexes. Best of all – and probably the prime reason why we use it – is that if your frame does fall to the ground, your piece will remain intact, as it should do. No more replacing glass.

Unsure about how to clean your acrylic? In this simple guide, we’ll cover the set-up, the things to do along the way, and a number of essential tips. Most of these are common-sense, but some of them might take you by surprise – we’ll see.

Where picture framing is concerned, preparation is key

If picture framing is all about accuracy and ensuring you have everything at your disposal before you start the task in hand, cleaning and fitting acrylic is all about dust prevention. As you probably know, acrylic sheets are cut down to size for picture frames, with a sheet of plastic shrink-wrapped to the surface. Once this sheet is peeled-off – we’ll get to that soon – the thing is charged with static electricity, and that’s why the preparation is a vital first element.

So for this, you need a room which is out of the way. Preferably light – so you can see the acrylic well – and without any obvious draughts. You don’t want anyone coming in or out while you are cleaning and fitting the acrylic. Ideally, you also want to do it off and away from the floor, and you don’t want to do it when you’ve just come in from the garden and are covered with bits from cutting the conifers.

Now you’ve got somewhere to do the fitting, peel off the plastic and leave it there. The longer you leave your acrylic, the more static will burn-off and the easier it will be.

If you’re in a hurry, and can only leave it a few minutes before putting the piece together, be sure to remove the plastic slowly, to eliminate as much charge as possible.

The vital things you’ll need

Don’t panic – you can fit acrylic in a specialist workshop like ours, with access to air-guns, surrounded by skilled workers who know how important keeping the dust out really is, but you can also do it at home almost anywhere.

You know those soft colourful brushes that are made for removing cobwebs? They’re ideal for removing any last fine pieces. Personally, I like to put my frame down on a jet-black surface, as this enables all the dust and fine particles on the acrylic to be seen.

Depending on how meticulous you want to be, we’d also advise having a paint brush on hand – a thin and a wide flat one too, if possible – to give it the finishing touches. If you’re using an old paint brush, you’ll want to make sure that it’s clean and free of dried paint. As tough as acrylic is, it can get scratched easily, even by something as insignificant as this.

 Getting that acrylic clean

As we said before, it all comes down to the preparation. If you’ve taken the plastic off and left it for a week, your acrylic is going to be markedly easier to fit than if you’ve only just removed it in a hurry. That said, whatever the scenario, it’s about doing things properly and efficiently (some people even prefer to leave the inner acrylic on until the very last moment, peel it off and put the piece straight in).

Put the picture frame down, place the acrylic inside it and blow-out any obvious pieces. Sometimes the plastic sheet can get shredded on the edges of the acrylic, leaving tiny pieces. Assuming there aren’t any, get to work with that soft brush we talked about. You should be able to see any pieces by tilting the frame at an angle and reflecting the light.

Now, take your paint brush and get in those corners, sweeping the larger one across the surface carefully and methodically. As we said before, acrylic is prone to scratching, so make sure your finger-nails go nowhere near.

Feel free to hold the frame up to the light. If you’ve only recently taken the plastic sheet off, do so carefully, as even the smallest movements will attract fragments of dust that won’t always be visible until you put the piece together.

Put your photo or piece of art inside the frame, and blow around the edges or use a paintbrush again if need be. Job done, your piece is complete.

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