Wood Frames vs. Metal Frames: Tips for Choosing the Right Style

Written by Mark Rogers

Picture frames can be made out of, well, practically anything. Glass, acrylic, stone, concrete, molded plastic, recycled materials, and many other items and materials can be used to make creative frames.

Most often, however, customers narrow it down to just two: wood or the more modern metal. Wood may have reigned as the chosen picture frame for thousands of years, but the modern picture framing customer has a much larger selection from which to choose.

These classic and beautiful materials are readily available and are easy to work with, shape, and customize. Wood picture frames and metal picture frames are available in a wide range of colors with plenty of different styling details.

Tips on How to Choose Between Wood Picture Frames and Metal Picture Frames

While the decision eventually comes down to personal preference—not just availability or convention—there are a few other considerations when choosing between a wood and metal picture frame for any artwork.

Check Out the Artwork

The earliest picture frames were made from wood and remained the favorite frame material for years; classic and traditional pieces, such as still life paintings, portraits and landscapes, often look more “at home” within a wooden picture frame.

The intricate details and play of light and dark (chiaroscuro, for the art buffs) in many of these paintings are complemented by the warmth and elegant detail—sometimes ornate—of traditional wooden frames. This warmth can also carry over to more contemporary, colorful works that blur the lines between traditional and modern.

Modern works, such as abstract paintings, minimalistic work and photography, most commonly black and white photography, are suited to the simplicity of metal frames. With their no-fuss look, metal picture frames support less intricately detailed works of art rather than compete with them.

Check Out the Room

A framed piece of artwork will have a home somewhere inside yours—look to that room’s style for guidance. A warmly-toned living room outfitted with an overstuffed sofa and a roaring fireplace is the perfect setting for a wide mahogany picture frame, while modern rooms call for metal frames.

Though metal picture frames often feature fewer color options than its wood counterparts—white, black and silver are the most common colors in metal picture frames—their simplicity allow them to complement many styles of décor.

Check Your Budget

Because wood frames are composed of a pricier material and must be hand-glued and nailed together, they are slightly more expensive than the typically aluminum metal frames. The more ornate the wood frame gets, the more expensive it is.

If you plan on purchasing a complete frame kit, including mat board, mount board and glazing, at museum conservation-level quality, it may be beneficial to first look at your budget. Those who wish to frame multiple photographs or prints—to create a gallery wall, for example—may find it easier on their budget to purchase metal frames or mix and match the materials.

Check Out the Damage Potential

While wood frames are sturdy, they are sometimes susceptible to damage. Wood frames may also be heavier, which can make it easier to drop, and subsequently dent or ding, them.

Customers who plan to move their frames, have children with curious hands, or house pets that love to knock things over may find it easier on their wallets to choose metal frames, at least for the time being. Metal frames can be repaired or have sides replaced, while wood frames wear their scratches and dents with pride.

Wood Picture Frames

Case for wood frames -- Wood is a warm natural material, which can be stained in many beautiful colors or painted in an even wider selection of colors. Wood is a classic material for creating picture frames because it has been the traditional material for frames for centuries, owing to its ready availability and ease of use.

Traditional decorating style often calls for wooden picture frames, either to match other furniture items or simply for its own classic style and detail. Wood can be pale, dark, or a range of shades in between, or even gilt, giving you many choices when it comes to complimenting or contrasting the look and mood of any given image.

A wood picture frame can also be made with either very simple detailing or with very ornate levels of detail, offering a range of textures to suit your photographs, your personality, and the décor of the room in which you will display the photo or artwork.

Metal Picture Frames

A metal picture frame offers a more modern alternative to wooden frames. Frames made out of metal provide clean lines and are well suited to a variety of picture framesmodern décor styles, although a carefully chosen metal frame can look at home with a more traditional decorating style as well.

Décor that recalls certain historical periods, such as the Art Deco era, also calls for the clean lines and cool look of metal picture frames to fit in among other period touches.

Metal frames, unless painted, may not offer the same range of colors as wooden frames do, but there are still plenty of choices to suit different photos. A narrow metal frame can also recede easily into the background, which in some cases is what you want for your photo display.

The cool look of metal offsets many photographs, especially photos shot in black and white, and provides a very classy look.

Metal picture frames also offer some extra practicality over wooden frames in instances when a frame becomes damaged. If one side of a metal frame becomes scuffed, dented, or broken, it is possible to replace only the damaged side.

Metal frames can be disassembled and reassembled, making it a simple matter to replace a broken or damaged piece. Wooden frames, however, cannot be easily disassembled once nailed together. A damaged wooden frame needs to be replaced completely.

Wooden frames and metal frames are both beautiful options for picture frames and provide classic or contemporary looks at cost-effective prices. Frame Destination offers a wide range of both wooden and metal frames in many standard sizes to suit your picture display needs.

Share This