By Displaysense's Lucy Eagland
There is nothing worse than taking your perfectly hung picture frame off the wall, removing the back panel to replace the contents and then have to rehang it. Snap frames remove all that hassle thanks to their front loading system that means once hung, it can stay there. When it comes to framing up your posters and artwork, snap frames are a quick and easy solution that give a professional result at a cost effective price. Popular with businesses for promotional activities and customer safety notices, they’re also ideal for use in the home as they are lightweight, durable and have a sleek minimalist design. Their construction has made them a common choice for framing large quad posters as although big in size, they are not heavy and are easy to wall mount. The spring mechanism means there is no need for extra tools, you simply pop open and click shut the sides and regardless of how relentless the company promotional schedule is or how often your taste changes, it can withstand repeated use.
They come in a variety of styles, sizes and colours so you’ll be sure to find one that is perfect for your needs. Most are wall mounted but you can also get floor standing and counter top versions. If it will be in a vulnerable location, lockable and tamperproof frames can be purchased to protect the contents and keep your artwork looking pristine. Instead of glass, the snap frames come with PVC covers which not only keep out moisture, but also prevent UV light damaging the materials underneath. When looking at the cover alone, it will not be crystal clear but once your artwork is placed into the frame, the posters underneath will be clearly visible.
Whilst many products look similar, their quality can vary greatly. In this snap frame buying guide we will break down the different types and what to consider to help you make the right choice.
Mitred Snap Frames
The most popular snap frame type on the market, with corners that join at a 45 degree angle, creating a sleek joint. They are the most similar design to that of traditional picture frames but with the benefit of being front loaded, lightweight and durable. The frame width varies from 10mm to 45mm to accommodate for all needs but the most common is 25mm which is the width of all of our snap frames. They can be found in most colours but silver and black are the most popular.
Rounded Corner Snap Frames
With an attractive curved profile, these poster frames with rounded corners are safe to use in public areas such as schools and shopping centres, as there are no pointed edges. They work in exactly the same as their mitred counterparts but the safety corners usually come with an eye catching chrome finish.
Anti- Tamper Snap Frames
Tamper proof snap frames come with a metal lever key which allows the owner to click open the sides of the frame in order to change the literature inside. They are ideal for use in areas where vandalism may be possible and will give you the peace of mind that your displays will remain in great condition.
Lockable Snap Frames
Lockable snap frames do a very similar job to tamper proof ones but instead of a lever like key, it is an allen key. The allen key unlocks a security screw on one edge, after which the four sides can be freely opened and closed. To secure the posters inside, it is as simple as closing the sides and locking with the key.
- Snap mechanism – When it comes to the mechanism that allows the edges to snap up and down, not all are created equal. This will be especially important if the contents are going to be regularly changed. It is best to look for frames with a higher amount of clips as this increases the tension and ensures it will remain strong even after continued use. Those with fewer clips are often cheaper, as they cost less to produce, but they will weaken over time and lead to a broken product that won’t present your display at its best.
- Weight – Snap frames are considerably lighter than traditional wooden or metal photo frames. Part of this is due to the lightweight aluminium frame but it is also due to the lack of glass. The PVC protective cover dramatically reduces the overall weight of the item so it can be hung pretty much anywhere, they are so light they can even be hung using adhesive strips. Whilst some can be extremely light, it is best to go for a model that is constructed from sturdier materials to increase its durability, even if this does slightly increase the weight.
- Size – Regardless of how big or little your artwork is, you will be able to find a snap frame to fit it. Even your quad poster, which will require a 30 x 40 inch frame, is catered for and availability will go all the way down to an A6 size.
- UV Protection – Sunlight and UV rays are the enemy of print. To keep that movie poster in tip top condition, it will require a protective cover. Some traditional picture frames offer the option of conservation glass but this is a costly addition. Snap frames usually come with a PVC protection cover, which will prevent bleaching, but make sure to check it is a UV grade PVC sheet to keep your graphics looking newer for longer.
- Frame thickness –The most popular thickness is 25mm but there are smaller and larger versions available. The thicker the frame, the less artwork will be visible. The one you choose will be dependent on the look you are hoping to achieve and what you are framing.
- Safety – When purchasing a frame, you may want to consider the safety of those around it. Whether it is for a public area, a business, or for the home, snap frames are securely fixed to the wall meaning they cannot be knocked off. The PVC cover means that there is no glass to shatter should it ever get damaged.
- Protection devices– If you are going to be using the product in an area where it could be vulnerable to damage, tamper proof and lockable frames are available to keep the contents in pristine condition.
- Weatherproof – Most snap frames are not weatherproof and even versions designed for use outdoors still recommend printing on waterproof paper. If you are looking for one that can withstand being outside, poster cases would be a better option as they box in the poster, sealing it off from moisture.
What should I look for when I want to buy snap frames?
The quality of snap frames can vary greatly. From the construction to the materials. We recommend looking for products that feature a strong spring mechanism and preferably an increased amount of them. A quality back panel, like that used in our products, will keep your posters in place and prevent creasing. If you are looking at a mitred snap frame, the construction quality should be considered as you will want neat, correctly aligned corners to show off your poster at its best.
Can snap frames be used outdoors?
Whilst snap frames can be used outside, they are not designed to be exposed to the elements. There are weatherproof versions available which feature a seal around the front edges to keep out moisture but it is always best to waterproof any printed materials as water can sneak in through even the smallest of spaces. Poster cases are a better option if you are looking to present materials outside as moisture will find it much harder to get in.
Do snap frames come with fixings?
Most snap frames will come with wall fixings, which are usually hidden once the edges are closed. Always check the product details to make sure this is the case before purchasing. If you are mounting it onto a wall that you do not want to damage, you can use adhesive strips that won’t mark.
Are snap frames heavy?
They are not, in fact they are very lightweight. They are usually constructed from aluminium and have a pvc cover which makes them a much lighter option than traditional wood and glass picture frames.
How do I clean my snap frame?
Snap frames require very little maintenance but we recommend regular dusting and for tougher dirt, a damp cloth. Over time, PVC can lose its clarity but replacement PVC covers can be purchased to refresh your display.