Cheap wooden picture frames: how do you tell good from bad?

Written by chris pink on May 1, 2015 in Picture Framing

We don’t like to boast, but here at Picture Frame Studio, we know a thing or two about picture frames (you’d expect us to, wouldn’t you?!).

And one thing is certain: you get cheap frames that work (ours) and those that don’t (we’re not naming names!). Here’s our quick guide, packed with info about how to tell the difference between quality and…everything else!

Wood quality matters

Wood, clearly, is not all made the same. You have hard wood and soft wood, and a million grades in between…

How do we select our wood? Well, we use affordable wood that has nice grain and is nice and sturdy with it. You can tell good wood from bad by flexing it and looking at what happens.

Pine is a prime example – if you pick up a dodgy picture frame, you’ll find it flexes all over the place and doesn’t offer enough support to the art-work inside it.

Wood doesn’t have to be very expensive to be good, but it does have to have the appropriate qualities we always look for.

It’s all in the corners

Take this example: picture frame 1 has 2 staples, while picture frame 2 has 4 staples. 2 staples might be enough for a narrow frame, but the key thing is to use enough to cover a corner’s surface area.

This prevents flexing and means that if that frame does ever hit the ground, it won’t fall apart on impact!

Beware (some, not all!) painted frames

It can be hard to take two painted picture frames and tell good from bad. Our advice? Turn the frame over, first, and make sure that there are enough staples. It should also have been glued, ideally, to add extra adhesion.

Otherwise, examine the surface and have a look at where each frame corner meets another. Is one side higher than the other?

Is there an ominous crack opening in the paint? Both of these things in the same frame probably don’t mean great things…

Summary? If you pick up a cheap picture frame in a shop it could be the best thing you ever did for your art work. But equally, it could be bad news, so stay one step ahead and keep those eyes wide open! (Or…buy from us.)

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