There are five total basketball backboard materials.
- Molded plastic
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 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.
Acrylic is the most popular material you’ll see on outdoor residential basketball hoops. It’s clear like glass, but unlike glass it can possibly fade to a yellowish color if left in the sun for a several years.
Since it is a durable plastic, it don’t shatter the way that a glass backboard might if it 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.
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The main advantage of polycarbonate is its durability and strength. Even when the material is very thin, you can usually count on polycarbonate backboard virtually never cracking.
In fact, many institutions that install backboards for public use opt for polycarbonate hoops in order 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.
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Polycarbonate vs Acrylic Backboards: Which One Should You Get?
So which one is better? All things being equal, the polycarbonate backboard offers you the best value. They’re extremely strong, will last a long time, and actually have long warranties. They’re a perfect choice if you a getting a low or middle range hoop, and plan on playing rough or owning the basketball goal for a long time.
However, as backboards get thicker, such as ½ inch, like you can see in in very high end basketball hoops, the type of plastic you use doesn’t matter as much.