Have you reached the point where you’ve got a great selection of photographs, but they all exist in the digital space? Getting prints of your favorite pictures is one of the most rewarding aspects of photography. What’s the point of taking an incredible picture if you can’t print it out to enjoy it?
Today, I will guide you through acrylic photo prints, where to print them, and the positives and negatives of this form of print.
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What Are Acrylic Prints?
There are two methods to produce acrylic prints. One method involves simply printing on photo paper and then sandwiching the print with two acrylic pieces. The image is usually printed first, then mounted onto the acrylic.
The other method involves directly printing your photograph onto acrylic. This is done with a flatbed printer. Both methods can produce great prints.
The acrylic prints will give this tremendous glossy effect to your photos. The image itself may even look brighter as light can bounce around inside the acrylic. This all depends on the type of acrylic used.
Why Should You Use Acrylic Prints?
Acrylic Prints are Durable
One of the main reasons people choose to get acrylic prints over other materials is the tough nature of an acrylic print. An acrylic print can flex slightly without snapping or creasing the photo paper.
The protective surface also allows you to easily wipe dust and other smudges off. Regular upkeep is as simple as it gets when it comes to canvas prints. This almost guarantees a long life for your photograph.
Acrylic Prints are Lightweight
Acrylic prints tend to be pretty lightweight compared to other framing methods. Because the only elements to the prints are the paper and the acrylic, there isn’t anything else that adds weight. This comes in handy when mounting the picture.
Because the acrylic usually comes reasonably thin, the acrylic prints aren’t as robust as printing onto metal. Also, printing onto foam board will be much lighter but less safe to transport.
They Come in Various Sizes
As acrylic prints are simply paper and acrylic, prints usually have a maximum thickness of one centimeter. This is good if you are looking to store prints. Or if you want to easily move prints from one place to another, acrylic prints are the most accessible option while keeping your photographs safe.
The prints may come out a few millimeters thicker than printing onto metal. But here, the difference is that metal prints won’t have the same print protection as acrylic prints.
Tips For Making Your Acrylic Photo Print
Now I will guide you through a few handy tips to remember when ordering canvas prints online.
Choosing the Right Print Size
Rule number one in printing photographs is always to be mindful of the size you will print at. This begins with planning where your photo print will go. Measure your wall and see how big your image will look in real life. Make sure you don’t print a size that fills up the whole space. You will want to give your image some room to breathe.
Suppose you have no idea where you want your prints to go yet. Don’t worry! Maybe just pick a size similar to A4 paper, as you can fit a few of these on an empty wall for the future.
Preparing the Image File
One of the most important factors to consider is your image file. If a photo print doesn’t come out sharp, you are most likely trying to print it bigger than the photo file.
The easiest way to check your image size is through Adobe Photoshop. You will want to open the file and then go to Image > Image Size. Here you can flick through various measurement options. You will want to ensure your image is at least the size of the intended print and your resolution is at least 300 dpi.
On photoshop, you can even zoom to 100%. That will give you a rough idea of the quality that the image will print at.
Mounting Your Work
Another point to consider is how you will get the photograph onto the wall. Different companies offer various ways to mount acrylic prints.
The most common is with metal posts. These posts will go through the corner of your images, so keep this in mind when selecting your photograph. You also get the option to have a rail on the back that allows you to hang it from nails in the wall.
The Best Acrylic Print Services
- Custom Sizes: Yes (18+ options)
- Mounting Options: Stand-off metal posts, back mount frame, decorative, none
- Price: $$
Pictorem is a photo lab that produces excellent prints while also offering a range of great discounts on a regular basis. You will also find plenty of sizes to choose from for your acrylic print. One of the aspects I like the most is that they offer circular prints. This is something unique and could look great in a range of environments. They also provide an option to discuss custom shapes, which could be the option for you if you’re looking for truly customized acrylic prints.
You also get various advanced print options. These range from selectively transparent areas to frost effect prints. These options allow you to make a custom acrylic print that meets all your demands. They even offer a backlit option to make your photographs shine and stand out.
Pictorem also offers various options when selecting acrylic thickness. They offer two different thicknesses—1/8″ or 3/16″. The 3/16″ option has greater optical depth, which has more space for light to be reflected around the print.
2. Big Acrylic
- Custom Sizes: Yes (45+ options)
- Mounting Options: Flush, hang off the wall, float frame, none
- Price: $$
Big Acrylic is a print lab specializing in large acrylic and metal prints. As they specialize in this type of printing, you get quite a few custom options to pick from. The custom options start with different thicknesses of acrylics. You get a selection of 4 different options to choose from—1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, and 3/8″. You also get the option to round the corners of your acrylic prints. This is mainly a visual choice, but you can also avoid having sharp edges around the house.
You also have the option of producing anti-glare acrylic prints that reduce the highly reflective surface that usually comes with acrylic printing. This option comes with added UV protection to ensure your print keeps its colors even if it’s exposed to direct sunlight for a long time.
Even though they are called Big Acrylic, they can also produce smaller, tabletop acrylic prints. These are not made for the wall. Instead, they have a small stand to sit freely on a tabletop. This could be great for weddings or other parties.
- Custom Size: Yes (56+ options)
- Mounting Options: Aluminium rail, picture hanging hooks, metal posts
- Price: $
White Wall is an award-winning lab that produces high-quality prints for a competitive price. They offer the biggest variety of sizes on this list. And they provide custom sizes and even custom shapes. Wall mounting is always included with your order. They even have a handy video to give you tips for mounting your work.
One of their signature options allows you to get an Ultra HD acrylic print. This involves using top-quality photo paper and the top printing options available. This option provides you with better image quality and colors on your photo print. You also have the option to print the work on metallic paper to give that extra glossy and reflective effect to your prints.
Even without the HD acrylic print, you get the choice of printing on normal photo paper or matte paper. If you really want to produce something special, WhiteWall offers the WhiteWall Masterprint. This allows you to print up to 196 x 94 inches (500 x 240 cm). The process will be reviewed by one of their master printers, and you will end up with museum-quality prints.
- Custom Size: No (18 options)
- Mounting Options: Metal post, wall mount, none, easel, pedestal
- Price: $$$
Printique is known for producing a wide range of photo prints—from photo books to calendars. But did you know they also offer acrylic prints? They may not offer to print your photograph at a custom size, so you will have to crop your image. Cropping your image is a better option than adding an extra border on acrylic prints.
With Printique, all the photographs are mounted onto DiBond metal. This makes the prints a bit heavier than being printed directly, or mounted onto, acrylic. The quality of the acrylic photo prints is excellent, but this print lab does seem to be quite expensive. If you were to find a discount, it might be worth it. But apart from this, there are cheaper options on the market.
A feature that I like that they provide is the acrylic blocks. These are basically 1″ thick acrylic on your prints, which they provide at any size. But for smaller prints, I feel like small blocks could work as a nice installation on a tabletop.
- Custom Size: Yes
- Mounting Options: Wood and wire, aluminum with cleat, none
- Price: $$$
Bumblejax is so confident in its acrylic photo prints that they offer a guarantee of 100% happiness on every print. They also claim to be one of the first companies to offer gallery acrylic prints to the masses. This tells us two things—they have the highest quality acrylic prints, and they’ve been doing this for a long time.
All of their prints come mounted onto DiBond for better protection and durability. For the acrylic front, you get an option between 3 different thicknesses—1/8″, 1/4″, and 1/2″. They also offer a 1″ thick acrylic for photo blocks. With all these size options, you can choose between TruLife acrylic and anti-glare acrylic. A TruLife acrylic print comes with added glare reduction, scratch resistance, and better UV protection.
Bumblejax also offers polished or sanded edges to the acrylic print. The sanded option will leave a slight opaqueness to the side of your prints. The polished edge will give you a completely smooth, see-through edge. On top of all this customization, you still get the choice between metallic and gloss paper.
- Custom Size: Yes (65+ options)
- Mounting Options: Cleat on DiBond or paper, keyhole hanger, metal post
- Price: $$
BayPhoto is one of the top sites to get your acrylic print, purely because of the customization and control they give you. For each step of the process, you get at least two options to choose from. So if you are one of the people who know exactly what you are looking for, BayPhoto could be for you.
You have the option of vivid or metallic paper and two different types of acrylic—standard and non-glare. In addition, you can either back the work on DiBond or paper, and choose between 1/4″ or 1/8″ in thickness. When it comes to the metal posts, you even have the choice between small and large posts!
- Custom Size: Yes (6+ options)
- Mounting Options: Front mount, table stand, french cleat
- Price: $
CanvasChamp is another well-known print shop that you can trust when making an acrylic print. They are known for making a whole range of photographic prints for your home or workplace, and acrylic prints fit well into their arsenal. The best part about their service is that it is one of the most affordable on this list.
As they are one of the cheapest on this list, CanvasChamp does not offer the same level of customization as other print labs. You get a choice between having a mount on the back or the metal posts that are the most common way to hang an acrylic print.
One aspect I do like is that their upload process is quick, easy, and fairly straightforward. Here, you can make photo collages or split photos easily. This means you have even more fun ways to display your work at home.
- Custom Size: No (10 options)
- Mounting Options: None
- Price: $
CanvasDiscount’s name describes their service pretty well, providing you with an acrylic print at a discount price. They advertise superb reproduction in vibrant color and provide the best price guarantee in the USA. This tells us that they must be amongst the cheapest options out there. I am also a fan of their extra 50% off the second print you order.
The downside about going to the cheapest place available is that you won’t find many customization options to consider when acrylic printing. They don’t even have mounting options available for the prints you order. This is not too much of an issue as it’s not too hard to find cheap mounts. But, when you order prints online, you expect to have them fully set up and ready for the wall.
- Custom Size: No (7 options)
- Mounting Options: Metal posts
- Price: $$
Shutterfly makes it onto this list due to how easy it is to create your acrylic photo print. You are simply able to select acrylic printing, then upload your image, and you’re pretty much set! It is not the cheapest option available on this list and also gives you the smallest range of sizes. So I would say it’s only worth going here if you aren’t too bothered about all the particulars of your final print.
One aspect I like about Shutterfly is the various custom frames they offer. These custom frames range from wood-backed acrylic prints to collages with writing on them. This would be a great present for family or friends. They also make the customization process straightforward, so there is no need for hours behind the computer.
After looking through the top websites for acrylic printing, we can see that there is definitely a demand for this technique to display photos. Acrylic printing gives a unique aesthetic that fits well in classy business environments as well as cozy home environments. If you’re not convinced yet, have a look out for acrylic prints text time you go down to the shops! Many places use them due to their easy cleaning and durability.
Each of these websites has its own advantages and disadvantages. I would suggest that it is always better to go above the cheapest option if you want to keep your acrylic photo prints for a while. If you are using the prints for a short time, then it may be worth considering cheaper options depending on your budget.
Check out our Effortless Editing with Lightroom course to make sure every photo you print is worth displaying on your wall!