Acrylic vs Polycarbonate Patio Covers

The materials you choose for your patio will determine its overall look, and it will set the tone for your outdoor living area. Patio covers can be made of various materials, each with its distinct benefits and drawbacks. Acrylic vs polycarbonate patio covers is a comparison that’s worth delving into as they’re both popular choices for professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike.

As materials, both acrylic and polycarbonate have a unique way of contributing to the aesthetics and functionality of your patio cover. While they share some similarities, they also have several notable differences that make them suitable for specific applications.

The article will explore all of the shared characteristics and differences to provide you with the necessary insights before making a choice.

Acrylic vs Polycarbonate Patio Covers

Both materials should be judged by the specific qualities they offer, as well as how they align with your needs and preferences. If appearance is your first priority, you should pay more attention to their respective aesthetic features, as acrylic and polycarbonate have distinct visual qualities. If you’re more about functionality, then your decision should be based on factors like durability, insulation, and maintenance requirements.

Then, there is the cost-effectiveness to consider, as your budget may play a more significant role in determining whether acrylic or polycarbonate patio covers are the right choice for you.

If you’re interested in complementing your outdoor living space with a patio cover, Royal Covers Arizona is your go-to solution. Our products are specifically designed for the southwest and possess the capacity to withstand the rigors of the Arizona weather. But what truly sets us apart is our team of designers and installers, with their wealth of knowledge and experience in the area.

When it comes to acrylic and polycarbonate patio covers, we install both of them, offering the highest quality, durability, and low maintenance. Here are more details about each material:

Acrylic for patio covers 

Acrylic can create beautiful patio covers as it has the power to transform outdoor spaces into bright and inviting areas. It has a modern look that adds elegance and charm to an outdoor setting, creating a pleasant atmosphere for relaxation and enjoyment.

As a material, acrylic is well known for its beauty and glass-like clarity, but those aren’t its only properties. When the sun is shining, your acrylic patio cover will illuminate your outdoor space with natural light and will do it while blocking harmful UV rays. This feature ensures that you can enjoy the warmth and brightness of the sun without worrying about sunburn or fading of outdoor furniture.

Before choosing acrylic, the considerations you need to make are in terms of its sensitivity to scratching and the cost. Its proneness to scratching is a well-known limitation that, over time, can compromise its appearance and affect its aesthetics.

Finally, the budget at your disposal may influence your choice, as acrylic tends to be among the more expensive options. Although acrylic is generally low maintenance, the upfront cost is higher than the more budget-friendly options.

Here’s more on the benefits and drawbacks of acrylic:


  • Optical clarity
  • Aesthetic appeal
  • UV resistance
  • Rain and snow resistance
  • Low maintenance


  • Scratch sensitive
  • Cost 
Acrylic vs Polycarbonate Patio Covers


Polycarbonate for patio covers

Polycarbonate is yet another transparent option for a patio cover, which offers a different set of advantages. It stands out with its durability, lightweight construction, and UV resistance. It’s also cost-effective, making it a popular choice for those seeking a reliable yet affordable solution for their patio.

Visually, polycarbonate patio covers have a hazier appearance, especially in multi-wall variants. This quality creates a more evenly illuminated outdoor space, thus contributing to a more comfortable setting. Furthermore, the variety of polycarbonate grades, including single-wall, double-wall, and multi-wall sheets, allows you to choose the light transmission and insulation levels.

Polycarbonate patio covers are highly impact-resistant, capable of withstanding hail, strong winds, and falling debris. This makes them a solid option for areas with unpredictable weather conditions and areas with outdoor hazards like falling branches.

The considerations to make regarding polycarbonate are regarding its appearance, aesthetic options, and the noise it produces. It’s worth noting that although it’s less prone to scratching than acrylic, it’s not entirely scratch-resistant.

Here’s a list of the benefits and drawbacks of polycarbonate:


  • Durability
  • Lightweight
  • UV resistant
  • Effective insulation
  • Low maintenance
  • Diffused light


  • Standard appearance
  • Scratching
  • Noise

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Acrylic and Polycarbonate for Your Patio Cover

Now that you know the pros and cons of acrylic and polycarbonate patio covers, you should make the decision based on how each aligns with your patio’s requirements. Here are some setting-related factors to consider when deciding between acrylic and polycarbonate for your patio cover:


If you live in areas with frequent hail, high winds, or heavy snow, then the higher durability of polycarbonate might make it a more suitable option. Extremely high temperatures require a material that provides solid insulation. While acrylic will likely maintain its visual appeal for longer, it’s polycarbonate that will provide better protection.

When it comes to sun exposure, the more diffused lighting of polycarbonate will reduce the glare, but acrylic will allow for a brighter environment. This one will depend on your personal preferences.

Aesthetic preferences

Acrylic provides an unobstructed view of the sky, which makes it an excellent choice for those who prioritize a clear and bright outdoor space. For many, the comparison between acrylic or polycarbonate for patio covers comes down to weighing up between the sleek and hazy appearances of each.

Polycarbonate doesn’t provide the same optical clarity as acrylic, but it diffuses the sunlight, which is an advantage for people who prefer having less sunlight. Some homeowners prefer the softer lighting as it gives them a more comfortable feel to their patio.

Regarding design and how each material might fit in, acrylic’s glass-like clarity is better suited to modern design as it adds a distinct touch of sophistication. On the other hand, the diffused lighting of polycarbonate works better with traditional style designs.


Acrylic patio covers are more expensive than polycarbonate ones. The higher cost is related to its optical clarity and aesthetic appeal, and if you have a limited budget, then you might want to consider more cost-effective options. Polycarbonate patio covers provide durability and functionality at a lower price point.

In the long term, polycarbonate patio covers typically last around 10-15 years, while acrylic patio covers can have a slightly longer lifespan of about 15-20 years. However, these are just average estimates, and actual durability can vary based on different factors such as maintenance, weather conditions, and the quality of the material.

If you plan on selling your home in the future, then the higher appeal of an acrylic patio cover could enhance the property’s value.


When comparing acrylic vs polycarbonate patio roofing materials, their customization properties are an important consideration. Knowing how the respective materials can be customized enables you to make an informed choice that aligns with your design preferences. Below are their customization features:

Acrylic customization characteristics

Acrylic sheets allow for more flexibility in customizing the size and dimensions as they are relatively easy to cut and shape. The material is an excellent choice if you have a particular design vision in mind, as it is easy to manipulate to create curves or delicate patterns.

It’s available in clear and tinted form, allowing you to pick a color that complements your outdoor decor. Tinted acrylic adds a color ambiance and can be further integrated with LED lighting for an even more elevated visual appeal.

Polycarbonate customization characteristics

Polycarbonate sheets are available in transparent variants, especially in single-wall versions. You can install polycarbonate panels in interlocking or overlapping configurations to achieve different visual effects.

While not as easily manipulable as acrylic, it can still be cut and shaped to a certain extent, but it depends largely on the thickness of the material. Polycarbonate provides flexibility in terms of light transmission configuration as you typically make that choice when you choose how many layers your sheets will have.

Installation and maintenance

Acrylic and polycarbonate patio sheets are heavy and require precise cutting as well as sealing at the edges for a watertight fit. Adequate framing is crucial to support the structure, and depending on the size and the design, additional support may be needed.

Maintaining your acrylic patio cover requires handling it with care and cleaning it only with soap and water to avoid damaging it. Some UV-resistant coatings and polishes protect it from the yellowing effect of UV radiation. Aside from that, occasionally, you may need to replace any worn seals to maintain the watertight structure and prevent leaks.

Polycarbonate can withstand more wear and tear without showing visible surface damage. It can be cleaned with a mild detergent as it isn’t as susceptible to damage as acrylic. Polycarbonate may be the more practical choice for homeowners who prioritize ease of maintenance as it requires less meticulous care.

Installation and maintenance



Choosing between acrylic and polycarbonate for your patio cover is an important decision that will shape the look of your outdoor living space. The article introduces the benefits and drawbacks of having acrylic vs polycarbonate patio covers.

Acrylic is known for its exceptional optical clarity, and it’s able to deliver a more sleek and modern appearance. Polycarbonate is a more durable and UV-resistant option that demands less maintenance. The choice comes down to the personal preferences of the individual as well as their budget constraints, desired level of maintenance, and the specific environmental factors of the area.

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