Are your walls looking a little bare? 

Nothing adds personality and visual interest to a space quite like incredible wall art. If you have a family photo or a favorite image you love, you can turn it into a beautiful acrylic or metal print for any room.

Both acrylic and metal serve as gorgeous backgrounds that can make a picture pop. However, there are key differences between these two mediums. 

Today, we're exploring what these are and why they matter. What important factors should you consider as you weigh an acrylic vs metal print? Read on to find the answer. 

If you don't have time to read, click here for the video!

What Are Acrylic Prints?

In short, acrylic prints begin as simply an image printed to photo paper, using a machine such as a LightJet printer. From there, the print is mounted to the acrylic surface.

This results in a jaw-dropping, high-definition look that extends to each edge. Alternatively, some labs will print your image directly onto the acrylic. In our shop, we adhere the print face of your image to a 1/5-inch high gloss acrylic for maximum quality. 

What Are Metal Prints?

There are two general methods used to produce a metal print. First, some labs will apply ink directly to a sheet of metal, such as one made of brushed aluminum. This provides a rustic, imperfect look that's very artistic but not always durable. 

 

You can also find labs that directly infuse inks into the metal using heat and pressure. First, they'll print your image on a special paper using dye sublimation inks. Then, they'll place that print transfer on top of the metal and apply a heat press.

The heat transforms the ink into a special gas, which absorbs cleanly into the coating of the metal surface. This results in an HD-like image that's waterproof, rugged, and longer-lasting than simply printing onto the metal itself. At Trader's Creed, we follow the dye sublimation method for the metal prints in our collection. 

Acrylic and Metal Print: Shared Similarities

Although they have their own unique features, acrylic wall art does share some similarities with its metal counterpart. For instance, both are:

  • Easy to wipe clean using a damp cloth
  • Durable and built to last a lifetime
  • Made with fade-resistant ink and high-quality materials
  • Handcrafted by printmakers in a lab

Knowing this, it's clear to see that either type of print would make an excellent addition to any spot in your home. For instance, a collection of metal family photos would look gorgeous above a living room sofa. Or, an acrylic print of your wedding day is ideal in your bedroom.

Next, let's take a look at how these two formats differ from one another. 

Acrylic vs Metal Print: How They Differ

To understand which print type to select, it helps to do a little brainstorming first. Before you begin browsing your options, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do you intend to hang your print? 
  • Will the print be indoors or outdoors?
  • Does that room see a lot of foot traffic?
  • How is the lighting in that room?
  • What is your personal decorating aesthetic (e.g. modern, industrial, rustic)

As we dive into the many differences between acrylic and metal wall art, you'll see why these answers matter. 

Ideal Hanging Locations

As long as you choose the right printer, both acrylic and metal prints should be made with top-tier, UV-stable inks. This helps them maintain their vibrancy for years. You can place them in a variety of locations around your home, without having to worry too much about how the environment will affect their quality. 

That said, metal is inherently more fade-resistant than acrylic.

That makes it ideal for an outdoor display, even in a sunny location. Another factor to keep in mind is the moisture level in the room. While both kinds of prints should be suitable for humid spots such as a bathroom, you may need to purchase a special hanging system to ensure they stay flat and straight.

Often, acrylic and metal prints will come with a float mount system to appear as streamlined and minimalistic as possible. While this can make the image pop, consistently high humidity levels could adversely affect it. If you plan to install a print above your bathtub or near your vanity, check with the printer to learn more about their recommendations for hanging hardware. 

Designing Around Foot Traffic

Why does foot traffic matter when you're choosing wall art? The answer lies less in the feet, and more in the fingertips.

Art that's displayed in a prominent, central location within your home is simply more likely to be touched. To some degree, that's a good thing! After all, we invest in artwork to add character and warmth to our home, and we want others to appreciate it. 

However, touching a print can also cause fingerprints. Request a matte or satin finish to reduce this potential and keep your print looking great. Higher-gloss finishes tend to display prints more visibly, and are also more susceptible to hairline scratches. 

It's also worth asking for a sturdy, swing-resistant hanging system, regardless of which type of print you choose. Prints in high traffic areas are often bumped as people breeze past, which can throw them off-kilter or even cause them to fall. 

Lighting Considerations

Two of the trademark features of an acrylic print are its shiny paint and polished, clear edges. Both of these are on full display when you hang your print in a well-lit room. When light hits their surface, it will reveal how smooth and glossy it is. 

The only drawback to this look is that it can sometimes be too glossy. In ultra-high light, you may notice a glare bouncing off your acrylic print. However, this is also the case with a high-gloss metal print. 

That said, if you want to display your print in an area with a substantial amount of direct lighting, ask the printer about matte or satin finishes that will reduce glare. 

Cost

Of course, your decision will also hinge on the price point of each option. For the most part, you'll find that metal prints are more affordable than acrylic alternatives. 

This is primarily due to the amount of time the acrylic print production process requires. Metal prints are also lighter and easier to ship than acrylic varieties. 

Personal Decorating Style

We all have a personal decorating style, even if we can't exactly define it. It's what kicks in when you see a piece of furniture or artwork and you instinctively know it's the one for you. 

When you're trying to choose between acrylic and metal prints, take into account your personal preferences! Here are a few categories that your style might fit into.

Bold and Vibrant

Are you someone who enjoys standing out from the crowd? You want to decorate with bright colors and eye-catching patterns. You don't shy away from a bright print or a bold throw, and you're always looking for ways to turn your visitors' heads.

If this sounds like you, acrylic prints are the way to go. These are designed with sharp, vivid colors, using an intricate process that shows in the level of craftsmanship. They're lifetime investments you'll appreciate for years. 

Bohemian and Rustic

Bohemian style is all about the lived-in, curated look. Rather than purchasing all of your furniture from a big-box store and calling it a day, you're looking for pieces with meaning. You adore one-of-a-kind items that tell a story.

In this case, why not turn your original photograph into a stunning piece of metal art? High-end and classy without taking center stage, these prints are beautifully unique.

Often, printers will offer the option of white metal or silver metal underneath your image. Then, they'll print the picture directly on top of that metal. White metal offers a higher degree of color accuracy, while silver metal has a more artistic appearance. 

Chic and Industrial

Love the clean lines and simple aesthetic of modern decor? If so, you'll understandably lean toward metal prints. After all, they're cool-toned and minimalistic, fitting perfectly into a mixed-metal scheme within your home or apartment. 

Stick with silver metal if you want the light, brushed aluminum to saturate through some of your print. This is a simple way to tie in your industrial theme and keeps the art from looking too polished. 

If you want to use an acrylic print but maintain your modern setup, look for a hanging system that offers those touches. Modern prints tend to eschew fancy frames and are kept about 1/4-inch from the wall. 

Transform Your Home with an Acrylic or Metal Print Today

Choosing the perfect piece of wall art can be an incredible, rewarding journey. This is especially the case when you create a large print using a cherished photo you've adored for a while.

In the acrylic vs metal print debate, both are clear winners. They each offer a unique look and give you the opportunity to showcase your home in an entirely new light. Place one in a special spot, such as your office, where you can look at it and enjoy it often. 

Ready to find the perfect print? We offer a variety of both metal and acrylic prints in our online shop. Check them out today and let us know if you have any questions!

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