I found polishing acrylic to be tricky at first, but it’s actually a simple process once you know what you’re doing.
Polishing acrylic is a much different process than polishing metal or wooden items.
However, it can be accomplished relatively quickly with inexpensive products. Read on to learn more about polishing acrylic.
How to Polish Acrylic
Acrylic can be polished with sandpaper and polishing paste. First, wet sand the acrylic with coarse sandpaper, then switch to medium-grit sandpaper. Finish the job by wet-sanding with fine-grit sandpaper and applying a polishing paste or wax. The paste or wax is not absolutely necessary, but it will make your acrylic item much shinier.
How to Polish Acrylic Items
The process described below will allow you to polish any acrylic item. Please note that this process may not work on other types of plastic, as acrylic has different properties.
You should also not use this polishing process when working on metal or wood.
Step #1: Gathering the Necessary Items
As with any DIY project, the first thing that you have to do when polishing acrylic is to gather the items you need for the job.
The most important tool when polishing acrylic is sandpaper.
You will need three types of sandpaper: 180-grit, 320-360-grit, and 600-grit.
You will need to use sandpaper both when it is wet and when it is dry, so be sure to obtain waterproof sandpaper.
As you will have to wet the sandpaper, you also need to ensure that you have a reliable source of water.
Finally, you should get microfiber towels and wax or paste that is specially designed to add luster to polished acrylic.
You should be able to find these products at any home improvement store.
Step #2: Clean the Item
It is very important that you clean an acrylic item thoroughly before cleaning it.
Otherwise, there is a good chance that you will scratch the item while you are trying to sand it.
Even if you do not scratch it, any dirt, debris, or residue left on the item will keep you from polishing the item properly. You should clean the acrylic with plain water.
Step #3: Start Sanding
It’s finally time for you to start sanding your acrylic item. The first thing that you want to do is get your 180-grit sandpaper wet and start sanding the edges of the item.
Continue sanding these edges until they are perfectly smooth. You will have to wet your sandpaper several times, as it will inevitably dry out when you are sanding for a while.
Once the edges of your item are perfectly smooth, you should switch from the 180-grit sandpaper to the 320-grit or 360-grit sandpaper.
Make sure to wet the 320-grit or 360-grit sandpaper before you start using it. This will allow you to begin polishing the item.
Continue using the 320-grit or 360-grit sandpaper until your item has a nice, even shine.
Step #4: Apply the Finishing Touches
Now that you’ve smoothed the item’s edges and begun to polish it up, you need to switch to the finer sandpaper.
You will need the 600-grit sandpaper for this part. You will also need to wet this type of sandpaper, although you will not need to use as much water as you did during the previous step.
Sand the item with the wet 600-grit sandpaper until it is polished to your satisfaction. When you’re done polishing, wipe off the item with a microfiber towel.
Step #5: Add a Lustrous Finish
Once you’ve finished polishing your acrylic item, it’s time to add a lustrous finish with a special wax or paste.
While this part is optional, using polishing wax or paste will make your acrylic item much shinier.
The shininess will also last longer.
The process for using wax or paste does vary slightly based on the product that you select.
Most products only require that you spread the wax or paste on the item and rub it in with your microfiber towel.
You will probably need to let the wax or paste dry before touching the item. Otherwise, you may leave smears on the acrylic.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Polish Acrylic
Do I need to wear a face mask when polishing acrylic?
You will likely not need to wear a face mask when polishing an acrylic item. It is recommended that you polish acrylic by hand rather than using a power tool. You should wear a face mask if you do use a power sander, however.
How often will I need to polish acrylic?
Acrylic items will hold a polish very well. How often you have to polish acrylic depends on how heavily your item is used. You may only need to polish an acrylic item once if it is seldom used.
Do I have to use a wax or paste to add luster?
You do not have to use a special wax or paste. However, doing so will greatly enhance the shininess of your item. The wax or paste can also protect your acrylic item’s shine so that it lasts longer.
Uses for Polished Acrylic Items
If you work in retail, you may want to put polished acrylic items on display.
A properly polished acrylic item will be extremely shiny, so it will definitely catch your customer’s eyes.
If you want to put a polished acrylic item in your home, be sure to put it in a prominent place to show it off.