Acrylic Vs Polycarbonate Basketball Hoops

Are you looking to upgrade your basketball backboard but can’t decide between acrylic and polycarbonate materials?

There are five total basketball backboard materials.

  1. Molded plastic
  2. Acrylic
  3. Polycarbonate
  4. Glass
  5. Steel

However, by far the most common materials are acrylic and polycarbonate.

Molded plastic is usually found on cheap kiddie hoops, glass is usually found on higher-end hoops, and steel is usually found on commercial hoops in public parks. So you will typically find acrylic and polycarbonate hoops in the driveways of your typical neighborhood.

If you are looking at two similar hoops and don’t exactly know how to choose between the two, how do you choose? Here’s a handy guide that breaks down these highly popular basketball goals.

The Battle of Materials: Acrylic vs. Polycarbonate

Durability and Longevity

Both acrylic and polycarbonate are known for their resilience, but they have notable differences. Acrylic, while strong, is more susceptible to cracking upon impact than polycarbonate.

Polycarbonate, on the other hand, is virtually unbreakable, making it an excellent choice for those intense games where the ball might frequently hit the backboard.

Polycarbonate gets the upper hand in this category if you’re looking for a hoop that can withstand rough play and harsh weather conditions.

Optics and Clarity

Regarding the aesthetics of your basketball hoop, acrylic takes the lead. Acrylic backboards offer exceptional optical clarity, ensuring your hoop looks pristine and professional.

The clear surface also provides a better bounce off the backboard, allowing for a more authentic playing experience.

On the contrary, polycarbonate backboards may have a slightly yellowish tint, affecting overall appearance and playability. If aesthetics are a priority for you, acrylic wins this round.

Price Point

Budget plays a significant role in decision-making, and the cost difference between acrylic and polycarbonate basketball hoops is substantial.

Acrylic hoops tend to be more expensive than their polycarbonate counterparts. However, it’s essential to consider this as an investment. While polycarbonate may be cheaper upfront, you might replace it sooner due to its lower durability.

So, acrylic could be the better choice if you’re looking for a long-term solution and can afford the initial cost.


Performance on the court is a crucial factor to consider. Acrylic backboards provide a more actual bounce, simulating the feel of a professional arena. This characteristic makes acrylic an excellent choice for serious players who want to hone their skills.

Polycarbonate, while durable, offers a slightly different bounce that may take some getting used to. If you’re aiming for an authentic playing experience, acrylic is the winner in terms of performance.

Installation and Maintenance

Regarding installation and maintenance, acrylic and polycarbonate hoops are relatively easy to set up. However, acrylic requires more attention when cleaning and maintenance to preserve its optical clarity.

Polycarbonate, being more resistant to scratches and damage, is less demanding in terms of upkeep. If you prefer a low-maintenance option, polycarbonate comes out in this category.

Acrylic vs. Polycarbonate Backboards: Which One Should You Get?

Acrylic Backboards

Acrylic is the most popular material you’ll see on outdoor residential basketball hoops. It’s clear like glass, but unlike glass, it can fade to a yellowish color if left in the sun for several years.

Since it is durable plastic, it doesn’t shatter the way that a glass backboard might if it is damaged. However, it still might crack if it suffers a strong enough hit.

The material also weighs less and provides less rebound than glass backboards. However, the main advantage of acrylic boards over glass is that they are usually much more affordable.

  • Some of their key features include:
  • High impact resistance (17x stronger than glass)
  • Resistant to UV light, maintaining clarity over time
  • Better rebound performance than polycarbonate
  • Available in various sizes and shapes


The main advantage of polycarbonate is its durability and strength. Even when the material is very thin, you can usually count on a polycarbonate backboard virtually never cracking.

Many institutions that install backboards for public use opt for polycarbonate hoops to guard against damage from overuse or vandalism. Unfortunately, there aren’t the most popular materials. High-end hoops (which can cost more than $1000) use thick acrylic backboards over polycarbonate.

So which one is better? In the battle of acrylic vs. polycarbonate basketball hoops, the choice ultimately depends on your priorities and preferences. Acrylic reigns supreme in aesthetics and performance, offering a clear backboard and more actual bounce. However, it comes at a higher price point and requires more meticulous maintenance.

On the other hand, polycarbonate hoops are the go-to option for those seeking durability and longevity. They can endure rough play and harsh weather conditions without showing signs of wear and tear. Additionally, they are more budget-friendly and require less maintenance.

Ultimately, the decision should align with your specific needs and budget. Whether you prioritize performance, aesthetics, or durability, acrylic and polycarbonate basketball hoops have their strengths. Considering these factors, you can confidently select the perfect hoop to elevate your basketball game.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can I use a polycarbonate backboard outdoors?

A1: While polycarbonate backboards can be used outdoors, they tend to become yellow, cloudy, and brittle when exposed to UV light over time. For outdoor use, acrylic backboards are more suitable due to their UV resistance.

Q2: Which material is more affordable?

A2: Pricing can vary depending on the specific product and brand. However, acrylic backboards tend to be more budget-friendly compared to polycarbonate.

Q3: Which material offers better rebound performance?

A3: Acrylic backboards provide better rebound performance compared to polycarbonate, making them a preferred choice for competitive play.

In conclusion, both acrylic and polycarbonate backboards have their advantages, and the best choice depends on your specific requirements. We hope this article has provided you with the information needed to choose the perfect basketball backboard material for your needs.

Happy playing!