How to Cut Plastic Panels for Fluorescent Lights

Lead Image
  • 3-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • $150-250
What You'll Need
Marker (erasable)
Masking tape
Tape measure
Lighting plastic panels
Straight edge
Clean cloth

Plastic panels are often used to conceal fixtures to give a uniform look to the lighting effect you have in a particular room. Given the innate property of plastic panels — being lightweight and thin — it is also an effective means to disperse light throughout the room. Although it is quite easy to cut and fit the plastic panels to your lighting fixtures, the thinness of the panels makes it vulnerable to breakage if not handled properly.

Step 1 - Get the Correct Measurements

Since you will be covering the fixtures with lighting plastic panels, the size of the latter should also conform to the entire length of your fixtures. So before you cut your lighting plastic panels, determine first the length that you will need in order to avoid wasting plastic panels.

Step 2 - Mark the Desired Length on the Plastic Panel

Once you have determined the necessary length of the panel that you need, mark this measurement on the plastic panel itself. Using the marker, place the mark on the side of the panel with the smooth surface first, then continue doing the same to cover all sides. To get a leveled measurement, place the straight edge on top of the panel to guide you on your marking.

Step 3 - Prepare the Panel for Cutting

Since the plastic panels are quite thin and break easily if not properly handled, it is best to keep the panel firm before cutting. This can be accomplished by putting masking tape around the panel. The mark that you made earlier serves as your guide. Make sure to tighten the rolling of the masking tape to give your plastic panel a firm hold on the tape. Also wrap it with masking tape around the other side of the line on the opposite end of the plastic panel.

Step 4 - Cut the Plastic Panel

When cutting the plastic panel, work on an even surface or a flat work table. Position the plastic panel on the table by putting the side that needs to be removed slightly over the table’s edge but not beyond the mark that you made. Put one hand on the longer end of the plastic panel close to the mark and apply moderate pressure to keep it steady. You can also ask someone to do this for you so that you can concentrate fully on the cutting of the plastic panel. In between the edges of the masking tape, cut the panel using a knife. Begin by pressing the edge of the knife to the panel until the knife has penetrated the plastic. Drag the knife down until you fully cover the first side of the panel. Following the first cut made, turn to the other side of the panel until you completely remove it. Remove the wrapped masking tape and your plastic panel is now ready for installation.