Marine plexiglass can serve many purposes on your boat, ranging from your windshields and dash panels to livewell lids and access doors. Whether you’re building a custom boat from scratch or simply replacing a worn out fixture, plexiglass is a great option to consider. » Read More
Marine Plexiglass: A Versatile Material for Boat Parts
Plexiglass is present in most modern boats. In its clear and translucent forms, it provides a great alternative to glass for windows and windscreens, but it can also be used for livewell lids, cabin and console access doors, and various small accessories. In addition to window applications, plexiglass can come in a variety of colors that can be polished to a shine that will match any gelcoat for dashboards, backing, and trim plates.
Plexiglass was introduced in 1936 as a transparent sheet. It became popular and in demand during World War II as it was used for windshields, aircraft windows, and even periscopes. It’s now widely used in everyday life, from hockey rinks to buffet sneeze guards to modern medicine.
Glass and Plexiglass Surfaces
Plexiglass is a great replacement for marine glass for several reasons. Plexiglass weighs significantly less than glass, which can make a huge difference on small boats when weight is a real consideration or on boats with lots of windows. Plexiglass weighs half as much as glass, allowing for weight savings in the windows themselves, as well as the framing required to hold them.
Plexiglass is also easier to work with than glass. Most average DIYers can cut and drill plexiglass. Some specialized tools and techniques are required, but the tools are commonly available and relatively inexpensive. Plexiglass can also be bent at home using a heat gun or even a hairdryer. If a mistake is made, plexiglass surfaces will not shatter into tiny pieces like glass can. Plexiglass is clearer than glass as well. It is 92% transmissive in comparison to glass, which is 80% to 90%. Not only is it clearer, plexiglass is much stronger. It is roughly 10 times more shatter resistant than glass and can absorb surface energy without shattering.
Plexiglass does have its drawbacks. Plexiglass is softer than glass, meaning it scratches much easier. This is important to consider when you’re choosing where to put it. It is also important to note that plexiglass is flammable and has a relatively low melting point of 265 degrees. This can be detrimental in engine room settings where there is a potential for high temperatures. The high cost can also be a drawback when compared to other marine sheeting.
Plexiglass vs Polycarbonate
Plexiglass is often confused with polycarbonate or lexan. Although similar in appearance, the different traits of the two materials lend themselves to different applications. Polycarbonate scratches easier than plexiglass and is not UV stabilized. As polycarbonate is exposed to UV rays it can begin to yellow. This rules polycarbonate out for many of the things that plexiglass is used for in the marine industry.
Common Marine Applications for Plexiglass
Plexiglass has endless customization options and placement options for your boat. Boat dash panels are one of the most popular custom uses for plexiglass. Not only does it shine to match your boat, but it can also greatly reduce glare in comparison to white marine dashboards. A new custom-made dash can save you hours of fiberglass work.
Console doors are also a great use for plexiglass as the plexiglass can provide a durable and aesthetically pleasing door. Additionally, plexiglass is stiffer and more rigid than Starboard, which is important for use in larger panels like console doors.
Livewell lids are another popular use for plexiglass. These lids provide an easy way to make sure your baits are alive and healthy without opening the lid.
For window applications, Boat Outfitters offers tinted custom cut-to-fit glass. There are different levels of tint available ranging from light tinted to heavy tinted to provide the shade desired and reduce glare.
Custom-Cut Marine Plexiglass
If you’re just looking for an exact replacement part, Boat Outfitters may be able to cut an exact OEM replacement or use the dimensions you provide. Plexiglass also lends itself well to laser engraving, and the company frequently engraves parts like livewell lids and dash panels with boat manufacturer logos, boat names, etc.
The process for having plexiglass parts custom-made is simple. For raw materials, simply specify your length, width, and desired thickness, and we will cut and ship the material. Edges can be left raw cut or polished.
For having a custom dashboard made, the process is a bit more complicated to ensure you’re getting the perfect product. Contact Us today to get in touch with their team of professionals. They can walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
Plexiglass is a great material to use on your boat. Whether you’re looking for a custom piece or a replacement, Boat Outfitters has your plexiglass needs covered.
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