When choosing a kitchen wallcovering there are many options, tiles, glass, mirrors, laminate or acrylic splashbacks. DIY Splashbacks manufacture glass, mirror (glass) and acrylic splashbacks. Coloured glass splashbacks and our custom coloured acrylic splashbacks are both manufactured in the same way- a clear substrate is colour coated on the rear facing side to produce a coloured splashback. So as they are made the same way they look identical- the difference is the practicalities which will go into more detail on below.
How heat resistant is acrylic compared to glass?
Glass splashbacks are made from toughened glass, this means the glass has been superheated to melting point before being rapidly cooled. This process changes the physical properties of the glass so it is at least four times stronger than normal glass but more importantly it is incredibly heat resistant. A glass splashback manufatured using toughened glass is perfectly suitable for use behind any kitchen hob, even gas.
Acrylic splashbacks, as the name suggests, are made from acrylic- we use the highest quality acrylic which is Perspex. Perspex has a maximum service temperature of around 80-85C. So as long as a hot pot or pan does not come into direct contact with it while heated and that it is at least 10cm from any rings on the hob they can be used behind induction hobs. You cannot use an acrylic splashback behind a gas hob, we would not recommend you use it behind an electric hob either although if enough spacing is allowed theoretically it should be ok. Acrylic should not be used behind freestanding electric ovens either, the reason being the oven will vent the heat upwards from the back which will be very close to the wall/acrylic.
How scratch resistant is glass compared to acrylic?
Glass itself is very scratch resistant compared to many ither materials, but anything harder than glass can and wil scratch it. There are of course a large percentage of glass coffee tables and dining tables, they do scratch if not looked after. This is never really the case for a kitchen splashback though as you would very rarely touch the rear wall of your kitchen with a hard, sharp, object so scratching is not a concern.
Acrylic on the other hand is not very scratch resistant at all. As there are many materials harder than acrylic there are many ways to accicentally scratch it. Again though, as a wall covering in a kitchen this is a rarity so this form of scratching is seldom a concern.
Where glass excels when compared to acrylic in terms of scratch resistance is when cleaning it. We have found ourselves that even using a microfibre cloth acrylic can be scratched if there is any form of foreign object on the cloth. That could be a smal amount of dirt or even a harder part of the cloth itself if it's a little used. On the other hand, glass can be cleaned with wire wool. It is unlikely that stains will ever be so bad on your splashbacks that you need wire wool but we use it to clean our glass panels before we process them so we know this is the case (we use medium grade wire wool).
How easy is it to cut glass compared to acrylic?
This is very straightforward, toughened glass cannot be cut or drilled, acrylic on the other hand is fairly easy to work with. To cut or drill acrylic you just need to use HSS bits, which are designed for metal. HSS jigsaw blades, which fit in any jigsaw, have very fine teeth- non HSS bits or blades for cutting wood have large teeth in comparison so they will chip or crack the acrylic and should not be used. If drilling, you must gradually build up the hole size starting with a very small 2mm drill bit.
Anything else to consider?
While glass is definitely better for most kitchen uses, and bathrooms, it is much heavier. At 15kg/m2, a typical cooker spalshback weighs in at 6.75kg. Not heavy, but not a large panel. What about a glass shower panel though, what does it weigh?
Glass shower panel 2.3m x 0.9m - weight 31kg (reasonably heavy but not flexible at all and large, so hard to manoeuver upstairs to a bathroom or shower)
Acrylic shower panel 2.3m x 0.9m - weight 12.42kg much lighter, and flexible (much easier to get upstairs without any serious risk of injury)
I have personally carried three large glass shower panels upstairs and it is very difficult. What was more difficult was getting something the full width of my shower, 2.3m high and completely inflexbile, inside the shower. Basically, by the time I had finsihed the shower, I needed a shower. You can of course use two people to carry glass shower panels upstairs just be very careful, if the glass slips the person behind you is in trouble.
When deciding, weigh up the above options. Acrylic, if used in the right place can make a beautiful wall covering and is ideal in a bathroom. Glass can be used anywhere without any worries other than the weight.