Wood, Plastic and Metal: Everything You Need to Know About Common Framing Materials

Framing is a special process that balances art with functionality. When frames are holding artwork or photography, their material and design are critical to accentuating and emphasising the medium it’s supporting. Understanding the fundamentals of each common framing material is an integral step in finding the perfect frames for your space.

When comparing frame materials, treat them as completely different entities. They each give off a different appearance and feeling, so if there’s a particular style you want, you’ll have to find the material that matches. Here we explore wood, plastic and metal frames, as well as the unique characteristics of each.

Wood frames

It’s hard to look past wooden frames because of their gorgeous and diverse appearance. They can offer the perfect complementary feature for an antique and vintage atmosphere, or they can just as easily provide elegance and class to your space. With good workmanship, wooden frames can exist as contemporary, traditional, rustic, and classic styles,  or with the right treatment, colouring and finish, they can also embody a unique combination.

There are various types of wood used for framing. Some are used for their cost-effectiveness and others for the design style they hold. Hardwoods typically provide a more classic and desirable finish and are less susceptible to scratching and damage. Softwoods are less expensive and can be stained and treated to provide the desired appearance, but they are more prone to scratches.

Finding the right frame maker or seller can help you find the wooden frame that will best showcase your piece. The Picture Factory make custom frames to suit our clients’ needs, over a range of materials, sizes, styles and finishes to create showroom-level quality framing.

Metal frames

Metal is popular because of its durability and neat, modern style. While it’s a totally different finish to wood, metal frames also come in various styles and colours which provides some great framing options. Let’s explore the different types of metal frames:


Aluminium is the most common metal framing material. It combines versatility, classic appearance and durability all with a low cost for an inexpensive framing solution. Aluminium is also resistant to corrosion and is lightweight, which means it’s easy to position and install, making it great for framing memorabilia, awards and diplomas.


Silver is a rare material, and scarcity comes with a cost. It’s not commonly used as a framing material because of its high price, though some choose to use silver to frame expensive pieces of art or elegant mirrors for a beautiful visual experience.


Bronze is a metal with special design characteristics. It looks captivating, classic and elegant, which provides power to framed pieces, but it’s also prone to rusting and turning a green colour. For the maintenance-motivated, bronze can be kept looking wonderful, but it’s not an ideal choice for framing pieces because of this risk.

Plastic frames

Plastic frames are also commonly used, but the motivation to use them is usually cost-focused as they’re the cheapest framing material of the three. They’re designed to be functional and affordable, so they can be the right choice for people on a budget framing a piece temporarily or for displaying information.

If you’re looking for a decorative effect from your frame, it’s best to avoid plastic. If you have more questions about framing materials, or you think you’ve found the one to go for, contact The Picture Factory to get the frame that makes your piece shine.