Skip to main content

Polycarbonate Vs Acrylic: Which Basketball Backboard Should I Use?

Different basketball backboard types.

Different basketball backboard types.

Basketball Backboards

Are you interested in playing basketball? Then you will no doubt spend a fair amount of time looking at hoops. Getting a hoop set up to shoot some shots and get more adept at dribbling is always a good idea and something you should consider. Fun and fast-paced basketball might be the single most minute-to-minute exciting sport in the whole world. However, when buying basketball hoops, you’ll no doubt be looking at some key factors—including backboards.

Typically, you have two major forms of backboard that you might wish to look at closely: acrylic and polycarbonate. For the most part, they are the best options that you have when it comes to buying quality backboards. The problem that you probably have is working out what is and is not the right choice for you when it comes to making a purchase.

Both board styles are extremely popular, but they have their pros and cons. Let’s take a look at what makes each form of backboard a worthwhile investment for you. Take into account the following details, and you should find that buying a quality backboard is going to be an investment that is much easier for you to go and make.

What Are the Similarities Between a Polycarbonate Vs Acrylic Basketball Backboards

First off, it is important to note that both acrylic and polycarbonate backboards share quite a lot of similarities. To begin with, they are both strong and durable plastic materials. This means that you can expect quite a lot of similarities in how your shots bounce when they hit the backboard.

The main thing to keep in mind, though, is that the longevity you get from each board is going to change based on the material that is being used. Let’s look closer at what makes each board.

Polycarbonate Backboards

So, the first thing to note is that polycarbonate is always marketed as the stronger of these two substances. You will often see many polycarbonate backboards sold as being bulletproof and ballproof to help you have buyer confidence. However, that is naturally quite the claim!

The other problem is that if you have a polycarbonate board exposed to UV light, such as if you keep it outdoors, everything changes. The material begins to cloud up, it loses that clean and clear look, and it turns into a kind of yellow-stained product. More annoyingly, the UV light helps to soften up much of that durability that is such a key part of having a backboard.

Backboards will typically weaken when made from polycarbonate if you are using them outdoors. They will usually be aesthetically ugly and brittle to play with within a three to five-year period. Naturally, you want to avoid making such a wasted purchase; backboards are expensive, so why buy something that fades so soon?

Polycarbonate is far more suited to being used when you are indoors. They are going to retain that strength and durability that makes them so popular and famed in the first place. For the majority of people buying a basketball hoop, though, having a hardwood court that you can play on indoors is pretty unlikely. So it comes down to having something more suited to outdoor play. While they are strong at first, polycarbonate backboards lose some of their value.

When not exposed to UV lighting, it can retain as much as five times the durability and strength of normal acrylic. It’s unlikely to crack and snap after a few overhit shots or excessive dunks. They are mostly used outdoors purely because they are much harder to damage—until UV lighting softens them up.

Acrylic Backboards

The next choice for most people would be to buy a quality acrylic backboard to play with. Acrylic is the most common choice for the majority of basketball hoops for the outdoors. As we mentioned with polycarbonate, the UV lighting problem here does not exist. You could leave acrylic to soak up those rays for days, weeks, months, or even years on end. It won’t begin to lose that strength and durability that it has today!

Acrylic is also much more durable than glass, as you might expect. The vast majority of glass in your home, such as bathroom shower doors, tends to be acrylic. This allows for greater blunt force impact without smashing. This means that if you were to hit the backboard flush with the ball, it shouldn’t crack, snap, or shatter in the way that glass might.

However, acrylic is also extremely light, which can be a negative for a backboard. Players want to see greater bounce when they crack the board with the ball, and you simply won’t see the same spring and bounce from an acrylic board as you might expect if you were to hit a solid polycarbonate board.

Acrylic does not provide the same level of bounce, so you might need to spend a fair amount of time getting used to the rather unique bounces that you tend to get with an acrylic backboard. It can be tough to get your head around this, and it can mean that the bounce you would expect from your old polycarbonate board will differ if you were to hit the basketball off of the acrylic board at the same point.

For longevity and durability, though, acrylic is the ideal choice if you are building a basketball court outdoors. The UV weakness does not come into play here as it does with polycarbonate.

What Is Right for Me?

There is not really a right answer here, as it depends on where you are going to be playing. For the most part, we would recommend that if you are looking to build an outdoor basketball court, then you should definitely look at the acrylic models that you find on the market.

Acrylic models tend to work well because they simply have a suitability for the outdoors that polycarbonate does not have. This should make it a bit easier for you to go through with the purchase, though for indoor courts the choice really is yours.

© 2020 Bradley Morrison