We manufacture store fixtures and want to paint acrylic panels for a frosted effect. We often use frosted acrylic for a sophisticated look, but in heavier thicknesses there is quite a large price premium for frosted material. Other companies often use a paint on standard clear acrylic to achieve this effect. Often the paint is textured on a larger scale than the frosting effect itself. Some have bubbles and some have about 120 grit particles in it. The quantities are fairly large (hundreds of 2 × 4 ft panels would be typical). What should we be using and how should we apply it? T. H.
You can use a textured paint that is compatible with acrylic sheet material, that is it does not destroy and yet adheres to the surface. My suggestion would be a light coating of a white texture paint. To obtain a uniform coating, the paint must be applied by spraying. You should also check “craft” stores for a frosty coating in spray cans (like a frosty effect used during the Christmas season). To get larger amounts, I suggest you contact one of the paint suppliers listed on pages 332-334 in the Products Finishing 2003 Directory and Technology Guide.
As an alternative, you should consider etching the acrylic sheets. This can be done chemically or by abrasion. Solvents sprayed on the acrylic panels will etch the surface. Abrasive blasting with different media will also etch the surface much the same as it does glass. As a bonus, these alternative treatments may give the panels a different “look” that may be better than your competitor’s.