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Non-Glare Glass or UV: Which is the Best Choice?

When framing a fine print, photograph, document, or work on paper, confusion arises over which type of glass to use. Indeed there are a dizzying array of choices and brand names available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully this entry helps to “clear” things up!

What is your goal?

Essentially the choices can be boiled down into 3 categories depending on your primary goal:

Price, Protection, or Reflection Control

1) If your main goal is to keep the price down, then opt for regular glass. It’s inexpensive, however will retain some glare and has minimal UV protection. It’s what you see most often on inexpensive prints and posters, where some fading over the long term is not a concern.

2) If you have a valuable piece of art (monetary or sentimental) which you want to protect from fading, then use UV glass. It is not terribly expensive, and it protects the artwork from ultraviolet rays. Keep in mind that it still should not be hung in DIRECT sunlight.

3) If your main goal is to reduce or eliminate reflection and glare, as well as preserving your art,  then Museum Glass is a great choice. It greatly reduces glare while simultaneously protecting your artwork.

What is Museum Glass?

You may recall the milky, fuzzy, opaque look of the old “non-glare” glass on photos and artwork of the past. When viewing the artwork from an angle, everything looked distorted, and the colors in the artwork that you loved became dull by comparison. People often say to us “Oh I don’t want non-glare glass….It looks cloudy.”

Well, Museum Glass has changed the way people think about non-glare glass. It is made with a special protective (and virtually invisible) optical UV coating that allows less than 1% light reflection while color is transmitted accurately.

Additionally, Museum Glass  effectively blocks up to 97-99% of harmful indoor and outdoor UV light rays, preserving your artwork and preventing it from fading over time.

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Samples in our gallery display the differences (left to right) between regular glass, museum glass, and old non-glare. Can you see the difference? Yes…the middle panel has glass!

Protection Comes at a Price

Unfortunately, there are a couple of downsides:

1) At roughly 5 times the cost of regular glass, museum glass can get expensive (especially for larger pieces). For this reason, we generally only suggest using it in areas where glare will be a significant problem (when there is a light source like a window directly across from where the artwork will hang). If glare is not a problem, regular UV-glass will work just fine to preserve your art.

2) Additionally, the optical coating it is very susceptible to finger prints and scratching, which means it must be handled and cleaned carefully. We use special gloves when handling it, and we instruct people to only to spot clean when necessary with a soft cotton cloth and isopropyl alcohol. Generally it will not need to be cleaned once it leaves our frame shop. But in the event it gets a fingerprint on it, follow the instructions below.

To Spot Clean Museum Glass

1) Dip the end of a cotton-swap in a bit of isopropyl alcohol.

2) Very lightly rub the spot using small circular motions. (don’t press too hard)

3) Allow to air dry.

We also will provide free cleaning for life on any piece that was framed in our shop.