Installing acrylic sheets can seem complicated at a glance, and compared to sticking a poster on a wall with some blue tack it probably is. That is no reason to be put off though; just follow our guide’s instructions and there is no way you can go wrong.
This part of the guide is about how to properly prepare the acrylic sheet, as well as the surface you intend to marry it to. We shall begin with how to prepare and machine acrylic sheets:
- Measure the surface space you intend to attach the acrylic too accurately – This may seem like a rather redundant point to emphasise but you would be surprised.
- Once you know the dimensions of the surface, you need to subtract 3mm from every meter; so if the surface was 3m x 9m (w x h) you would take away 9mm off the 3 and 27mm from the 9.
- What ever you are left with is the size your plastic sheet ought to be when it comes to fixing it onto the surface. Don’t worry about it not fitting correctly though; the moisture & heat in the air will cause the acrylic to expand and fill the gaps.
- When you receive your acrylic it should have a thin film of polyethylene on it, do not remove it. There will come a time when you can remove it of course, but this is not that time. Stay your hand.
- If by the time you read this you had already removed the film, kick yourself. If not then please skip point 6.
- Now that you have kicked yourself, do not worry. If the film has been removed place parcel tape over the areas that you will be machining and it ought to be fine.
- Mark out clearly and precisely where you intend to drill, cut or saw; and do so directly on to the protective film, not the acrylic itself.
- When marking, do not use scribers, punches, knives, chisels, etc. as these may well damage the acrylic.
- If you plan on drilling holes in any corners do so before doing anything else, as the thinner the gap between the outside edge and the area being drilled the more chance there is of the material splitting or cracking.
- No drilled hole should have a diameter less than 10mm.
- Before you start machining acrylic sheets ensure that the side of the sheet which will be facing outwards once installed is facing upwards so that you can see it.
- If you plan on cutting out anything that is not on the edge of the sheet, mark it out clearly on the protective film and drill a hole through the inside of one of the corners. This will give jigsaw the ability to access the area and cut it out.
- Neaten and smooth over the rough edges caused by sawing and drilling the sheet.
Now that you have your prepared your acrylic sheet for installation you need to ensure that the surface you intend to apply it to will be receptive and welcoming, this has a lot to do with the material from which the surface is made.
The ideal surface materials are: Waterproof gypsum board, securely fixed mirror tiles, lath or plaster (once treated with an adhesion promoter), Stone or concrete walls (painted with a latex based paint), and moisture-resistant chipboard or MDF panels (so long as they are coated in the areas where the adhesive will be applied).
The next step you have to take is preparing the surface and ensuring it is suitable for installing acrylic onto:
- If the surface is tiled, ensure that the tiles are fixed firmly, or removed and filled in with tile fragments and adhesive.
- Ensure the surface is flat and smooth; there must be no bumps, lumps or even the slightest protrusion.
- If you are using countersunk head screws to install wall sheets ensure that they are as flat and tight against the wall as possible.
- The surface must be solid, sturdy, as clean as possible and free from dust, moisture, grease or any sort of chemicals.
Now that the necessary checks have been carried out and all of the materials have been prepared to the best of your ability you can get started on the installation process itself; which we will be detailing in our next post.
General safety tip:
Always make sure that when you are machining anything that you are doing so on a flat surface that is also sturdy and stable.