Child falls from high-rise buildings are unfortunately not uncommon these days, and one of the most common ways to prevent injuries is to install a child-resistant plexiglass balcony.
Stanford Children’s Health and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report that 4000 children in the U.S. are victims of fall-related injuries each year.
These accidents are preventable if the balcony is protected with plexiglass. Acrylic (or plexiglass) has the advantage of being 10 times stronger than glass and does not degrade as easily under the UV rays of sunlight.
This article will help you learn more about balcony plexiglass, the benefits it offers for the safety of your children, and some of its major drawbacks.
Related: How to Block Balcony Gaps: 8 Ideas, How to Baby Proof Apartment Balcony
Difference between acrylic and plexiglass
Acrylic sheets are often referred to as “plexiglass.”
As a general term, plexiglass refers to both the brand and the product itself, which is made from acrylic.
One of the main differences between plexiglass and certain other types of acrylics is how they are made.
Extrusion and cell casting are two methods used to produce acrylics.
Plexiglass on the other hand, is made exclusively by cell casting.
For this reason, plexiglass is a better choice than other types of acrylic sheet.
This is because extruded acrylic is more sensitive to scratches.
While cell-cast acrylic is a more expensive option, the presence of waves, ripples or particles is less common.
Pros and cons
- Stable under UV light. Some brands can give a 30 year outdoor warranty for discoloration for clear material
- High see-through clarity
- Edges can be polished completely clear
- Can be produced in very high thicknesses even 100 millimeter thick centimeters and upto 500 millimeters like blocks
- Wide variety variety of pantone colors and shades available
- About 10 times stronger than glass and in the same thickness
- Does not shatter
- Thermoforming: more user friendly because it can be formed and then reformed if it’s not done correctly
- Can be joined using glues and adhesives
- Will break on high impact
- Can lose its strength especially after thermoforming applications
- Machining and drilling: limits drilling to certain bits which allow the excess material to come out without burning the edges and also closer to the corners of the material it could break
- Releases fumes when burnt
Does plexiglass break?
Display cases for commercial use and balcony barriers made of plexiglass are examples of applications where the material is used in high-strength situations.
Acrylic, which has 10 to 17 times the impact strength of glass, requires a significant amount of force to break.
You do not have to worry about anyone getting hurt if an acrylic sheet breaks.
Plexiglass sheets are characterized by the fact that they can be damaged, but do not shatter into a thousand small dangerous fragments.
Can you use plexiglass for railing?
The resistance to breakage of plexiglass sheets is their greatest advantage.
Therefore, acrylic is an excellent choice for handrails due to its strength.
Acrylic sheets serve as a sturdy barrier to protect your belongings.
Fences like these are especially useful in preventing your children’s toys from tumbling outside.
Related: Balcony Toys for Toddlers: 9 Ideas & Factors to Consider
Also: Child Safety Balcony Railings Guide
And if you’ve a barrier that prevents your kids from tripping and hurting themselves, you’ll be protected from mishaps.
Since you want to beautify your home, money is the most important consideration.
Colored plexiglass, on the other hand, can be had for very little money.
Are plexiglass railings expensive?
For a full fence kit, plexiglass costs anything from $6 to $45 per linear foot according to HomeAdvisor 2022 estimates.
It’s best to use these materials for a privacy fence that has a frosted, matte or etched appearance.
Before installing plexiglass, check with your local building inspector to see if the material is permitted in your location.
How do you secure plexiglass to metal?
Cyanoacrylate-based superglues are known for their ability to bond a variety of materials, including metal and plastic.
With most cyanoacrylate adhesives, acrylic or plexiglass will not disintegrate after the adhesive is applied.
Polyethylene and polypropylene can be damaged by certain types of superglue; therefore, this adhesive is not suitable for all plastics.
It is important to check the label before purchasing to make sure the cyanoacrylate adhesive you are buying is compatible with the type of acrylic or plexiglass you are working with.
Metals and some super adhesives get along quite well.
2. Epoxy glues
Another ideal alternative for attaching incompatible materials like plexiglass and metal are acrylic adhesives, commonly known as epoxy glues or methyl methacrylate adhesives.
Unlike certain two-component epoxies, this adhesive has a much milder odor and can be used outdoors in sub-zero temperatures.
Adhesive compositions differ in how long it takes for components to be manipulated after the adhesive is applied.
An acrylic bond can be quite strong after curing, however superglue is best suited for products that will not be subjected to significant strain.
Because of the strength of certain acrylic adhesives, they are used to bond the heads of golf clubs to their shafts.
How long will plexiglass last outside?
In terms of weathering resistance, acrylic outperforms all other common polymers and plastics by a long shot.
When exposed to strong UV radiation, salt water spray, severe cold or drastic temperature changes, it will break or lose its luster.
However, transparent plexiglass has been known to stay clear for more than 10 years while installed outdoors without yellowing, disintegrating or losing its structural integrity.
These properties make it an ideal garden or outdoor material for porches, terraces, balconies and greenhouses, as they have a similar appearance to glass but are more resistant to the development of mold or moss that could darken the glass over time.
Related: Child Proof Indoor Balcony (6 Ideas)
You can keep your plexiglass in tip-top shape with appropriate cleaning methods, such as industry-recommended plastic polish, and by not using commercial glass cleaning sprays.
Clear acrylic sheets have a different level of weather resistance than colored acrylic.
While colored acrylic is just as durable and resistant to dirt and mildew, it can fade with prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Also: Is It Safe to Be on a Balcony During a Thunderstorm?
Does plexiglass yellow in the sun?
Objects that are constantly exposed to sunlight have a propensity to become yellow.
Throughout the history of plastics, since their development, there have been misconceptions about the lifespan of plastics, especially when exposed to the outside world.
Petroleum and natural gas are the starting materials for all plastic products.
Most polymers are destroyed by exposure to sunlight, especially UV radiation.
There are certain plastics that decompose quickly in the sun, such as polyethylene milk bottles, within a few months.
Polyethylene terephthalate toys can become fragile and crack if stored outdoors.
When solidified, acrylic is inert.
American acrylic will not yellow when exposed to direct sunlight.
It is for this reason that the canopies and bubbles of World War II bombers are still visible after more than 50 years in the sun!
Styrene, PETG and polycarbonate are three other sun yellowing transparent polymers that are sometimes confused with acrylic.
Based on their respective advantages, this is a fair compromise.
Maintain a safe balcony for your children
The exterior of your property is just as important as the interior.
Discover: 13 Inspiring Indoor Balcony Ideas
To create an open, unobstructed balcony edge for people with young children on upper floors, install a plexiglass railing.
A childproof balcony railing made of plexiglass is not only aesthetically pleasing and weather resistant, but it also protects against falls and injuries.
A childproof balcony plexiglass can be the first step in securing your property, both inside and out.
However, other safety measures such as locks, sensors and other features may also be required.