Frames serve many purposes in housing prints and images for display. Not only do they provide safety, security and a way to hang the piece, they also have a major influence on the appearance and aesthetics of the display. The construction and materials of frames is an important component as different materials provide different styles, and they can be constructed to different standards.
Many kinds of wood are used to develop picture frames, especially their exterior sides. In fact, the type of wood can be a key in distinguishing a high-quality frame from a lower standard, perhaps prone to potential damage. The Picture Factory harnesses the beauty of many variations of wooden picture frames, and in this article, we outline some of the common types of wood used.
Categories of wood used in picture frames
The raw timber materials typically originate from two trees: hardwood and softwood. Each has similar characteristics, and contrary to what you might assume, their names don’t reflect their hardness or density.
Hardwood trees are differentiated from softwood through their pores or vessels present in the cross-section, as well as their characteristics to seasonal flowers, and bearing fruits and nuts. Softwoods have needle-like leaves and are seed-producing, conifer trees. They grow a lot faster due to their reduced structure complexity.
Types of wood issued in picture framing
From here, there are several common species of wood used in the framing industry, chosen for their quality, diversity or appearance:
Pine is probably the most common wood used in picture frames. It is light and relatively inexpensive, which makes it a good choice for budget-minded customers. It is also relatively easy to work with, however it is not as durable as other options available.
Birch is another popular wood used in picture frames. It is denser than pine, which makes it more durable. It is also a bit more expensive, but still more affordable than many other woods on the market. Birch is easy to work with and has a nice finish with wavy grain patterns, making it a good choice for high-quality frames, especially when acting as the base for veneered frames.
Victorian Ash is heavy and strong, experiencing minimal shrinkage once dried, making it a good choice for frames that will be used outdoors or in high-traffic areas. Its durability and beautiful colours range from soft, pastel pinks to yellowish-browns, making it a popular choice for framing stylish artwork or memorabilia.
Tasmanian Oak (Eucalyptus Regnans) is a stunning wood that is becoming increasingly popular for framing artwork. Again, as a hardwood, it is robust and hard-wearing, but is also versatile and adaptable, with a nice finish that highlights the wood’s natural beauty. Its qualities make it a frequent choice for high-end frames.
Tasmanian Blackwood (Acacia Melanoxylon) is often referred to as an ‘appearance timber’ that boasts a stunning heartwood of a lush golden brown. While possessing impressive strength, it offers terrific overall workability, leaving a soft, polished finish.