How to Clean and Restore a Basketball Backboard – Top Maintenance Tips

A glass backboard

Basketball hoops are under constant stress and have to take a ton of beating. And while most indoor hoops won’t be exposed to the elements of nature, outdoor ones will face UV rays, moisture, wind, and a ton of dust and debris. All that accumulates over time and most backboards get scratched, become yellow or frosted, and their overall quality deteriorates. That’s why, in this article, we will learn how to clean and restore a basketball backboard and go through a few additional maintenance tips to keep your hoop in top shape!

When it comes to backboards, there are a few different materials used in making them. They all differ in their qualities and are, therefore, treated differently. Let’s dive a bit deeper into that now…

Basketball backboard materials

Some of the most common types of basketball backboard materials out there are:

  • Acrylic and polycarbonate
  • Tempered glass
  • Steel and aluminum
  • Fiberglass
  • Wood

Acrylic and polycarbonate backboards

Acrylic is one of the most widely used materials when it comes to basketball backboards. It has a medium rebound and a decent long-term performance. Plexiglass is another name under which acrylic is branded across the USA. And while it is super durable to potential vandalism or other types of damage, it has on average less bounce when compared to tempered glass backboards.

Polycarbonate is another plastic material, similar to acrylic. The main difference between the two is that polycarbonate adds a ton of durability and is a lightweight and soft material. While they are great for indoor or wall-mounted hoops, polycarbonate backboards have the disadvantage of fading and yellowing when exposed to UV rays.

Tempered glass backboards

While the most expensive out there, tempered glass backboards have the best rebound and are have decent durability over long periods of time. If you’ve ever played basketball on any school court, chances are that the backboard was tempered glass. NBA backboards are also made out of the same material. Apart from the great rebound, when these backboards break (and oh they do) they shatter into pieces that cannot cut anything or anyone. That’s why it is also called safety glass.

Steel and aluminum backboards

Outdoor basketball courts often have metal backboards, either made out of aluminum or steel. The reason for that is because the metal is durable and lasts for decades. Unfortunately, these backboards don’t have the best rebound and have an awkward sound whenever you bounce the ball off them.

Fiberglass backboards

Fiberglass backboards are often found in the cheapest hoops and are mostly made for kids. It is used for portable basketball hoops and kid’s hoops.

Wood backboards

Lastly, wooden backboards haven’t been used for quite a lot of time now but are often the material of choice in DIY projects. The reason for that is because wood is easy to work with and can be easily painted and made look cool. On the downside, wood is the least lasting material out of the bunch. It also doesn’t have the best rebound either.

For some of the best wall-mounted basketball hoops on today’s market, click here! Now, let’s start with polycarbonate and acrylic backboards, as they are the most common types out there.

How to clean polycarbonate and acrylic backboards

Plastic backboards made out of acrylic and polycarbonate pose a few difficulties when they have to be cleaned. Apart from the obvious one (height), they are also prone to mildew growth, scuffing, and hazing over time, especially if they’re outdoors.

The process of cleaning these backboards is the following:

  • Wipe down the backboard with a clean cloth to remove all the dust, dirt, and other rough particles from it.
  • Soak the backboard in soap and warm water
  • Try not to use rubbing alcohol or any other alcohol-based substance as that can damage the plastics
  • Wipe down the backboard thoroughly with a clean cloth towel or a soft brush
  • If there is hazing or yellowing on the acrylic backboard, you can apply a special acrylic polish that will buff any inconsistencies out

How to clean a tempered glass backboard

Tempered glass backboards are much easier to clean. You can even use regular glass cleaner on them. They are also quite tolerant of harsher chemicals and won’t discolor or get damaged by those.

If you have a glass cleaner in your home, you can use a mix of white vinegar and lukewarm water in a bucket. Just as with other types of backboards, first wipe them clean to prevent any dust specs from scratching the surface in the later stages. Now, spray the whole backboard thoroughly and wipe it down in circular motions without applying too much pressure. If needed, make another pass.

If you don’t want to use a ladder to get to your hoop, there are microfiber brushes on the market that make the process much easier and are specifically designed for glass and acrylic backboards.

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How to restore a fiberglass backboard

Over the years, fiberglass backboards tend to lose their looks a bit. Paint can chip off from all the hits and the fiberglass itself can begin discoloring or hazing. If you want to spare yourself a whole replacement, there is a way to restore your backboard.

To begin, remove the backboard from the hoop and get it to a flat table where you will be able to easily work on it with a sander. Use 200-grit sandpaper until you completely smoothen the surface and remove the old paint. Clean the fiberglass with acetone and a clean rug. Next up, add a fiberglass gel restorer. Most of those have to be mixed with a catalyst or water. Follow the instructions on the container to mix everything perfectly. You can apply the said gel with a felt roller. Remember to tape off the hoop’s shooting box, as that can be another color. A normal shooting box is around 24 inches across and 18 inches high with 2-inch thick lines.

After the gel hardens in about an hour, spray the shooting box with a color of your choice from around 1 ft and let it dry before you install the backboard back on the hoop.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is acrylic of tempered glass better for a basketball backboard?

While tempered glass is without a doubt the more premium material, acrylic backboards do have their advantages. One of the main ones is that they are much more durable and less prone to breaking if hit by an object. That’s because acrylic is softer than glass and objects tend to bounce off it rather than crack or penetrate it.

What type of wood is used in wooden basketball backboards?

Plywood is the most common choice when building backboards. It is durable, relatively resilient to warping, and has pretty good weather-resistant properties, especially when treated properly.

Which is better for a backboard – acrylic or polycarbonate?

While both are clear plastics, polycarbonate has one major flaw – it tends to fade over time. Moreover, if constantly exposed to UV rays, it can turn yellow which isn’t necessarily the prettiest sight for a basketball court.

Final Words

When figuring out how to clean and restore your basketball backboard, the main thing you have to figure out is the material of the backboard. Polycarbonate and acrylic backboards are a bit harder to clean due to the hazing and yellowing they develop over the years. There are countless ways to deal with that, while not all are as effective. Tempered glass backboards are by far the easiest to clean. They also have better rebound capabilities but are more expensive on average.