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Clear or Frosted Acrylic Signs: Which Will Work Best for You?


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Clear acrylic standoff sign for attorneys lobby

Acrylic standoff signs. Acrylic award plaques. Acrylic corporate lobby signage. This transparent material has found its way into almost every application and facet of office signage. So, don’t fret: you’re not alone in considering PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate – a mouthful, we know) an elegant, yet versatile solution to your business’s signage needs.

If you’ve decided to go with cut to size Plexiglass over actual glass, you may think your job is done. But you should reflect on how translucent you want your signs to be; after all, the options for this thermoplastic substance abound. And, contrary to what you may have thought before clicking into this blog, the choice is not a simple binary of frosted or clear. There’s also milky acrylic, second surface clear acrylic, standard surface clear acrylic, and a whole lot more.

Wait…what’s with all the types and subtypes? What do they mean?

Let’s start with clear acrylic signs and work our way down from there.

1. What is clear acrylic? 

Clear acrylic standoff sign for career office

This is the de facto standard for the industry. Clear acrylic, like tempered glass, allows for complete transparency and shatterproof durability. In this style, we print or laser-etch your design and acrylic letters directly onto the thermoplastic.

- Standard surface refers to the placement of the design’s ink. The image will be printed on the front side of sign, and as a result, remain exposed. The design itself will showcase a matte sheen that is susceptible to scratching. If you like contrast and prefer a less reflective design, this may be the way to go.

- Second surface clear acrylic will imbue your design with a transparent gloss. In this approach, the design is printed on the back, but facing toward the front. For those who enjoy depth and wish to protect their custom graphics, there’s no better choice.

2. What is frosted acrylic? 

Frosted acrylic sign for hospital birthing center

Frosted acrylic makes use of a special overlay to diffuse light across the surface. The result is the characteristic blurred effect that we associate with a foggy window or – you guessed it – frosted Plexiglass. It’s a cool look, without a doubt; but it also gives the added benefit of privacy, assuming your signage is large or separating one area from another.

3. What is milky acrylic? 

Milky acrylic standoff sign for food business

These signs are called milky not because of their consistency, but because of their color (who would want runny signage anyway?). While still translucent, they trend toward a subdued white.

- This type of signage works best when coupled with a light source. Unlike frosted glass and acrylic, milky acrylic softens light as it passes through. The resulting glow is as attention-grabbing as an illuminated lobby sign, but without the high price tag.

- Milky acrylic also provides even greater privacy than its frosty rival. This trait makes it effective as a privacy film, bathroom partition, or an indoor barrier that can contemplate your architectural signage.

Now that you know the types and benefits of acrylic business signs, weigh your options.

What makes sense for your company goals? At Signs Now Beavercreek/Dayton, we implement custom plans for building and office signs, so that you’re not left in the lurch, design-wise.

Much of this decision will come down to personal preferences and applications. If you’re just installing standoff signs, for instance, you probably won’t need milky acrylic – traditionally, they’re not backlit, nor can one reap the benefits of privacy when the sign is up against the wall – but you may choose to purchase this type of signage for aesthetic purposes anyway.

Likewise, outside of privacy concerns, there isn’t anything substantial that places frosted acrylic signs over clear acrylic signs. We find acrylic material to be modern and elegant, while clear acrylic carries a tried-and-true, classic appearance.

For more information on custom acrylic signs, you can rely on the experts at Signs Now®.

“How else can I get indoor and outdoor signs and displays to work for me?” you ask.  Find out with an expert site assessment courtesy of Signs Now®. We have an array of Standoff Signs for all applications and budgets. And if you’re looking for a clear solution to reception area signage, we offer Window Graphics. We invite you to learn more about what Signs Now can do for you. To get started, contact us today.