May 27, 2022
Here at Driftwood Interiors, we've been selling unframed prints & posters for over eleven years. We know our customers want their new wall art prints to look as good as they can for as long as they can. They also want value for money, and sometimes an off-the-shelf frame is the perfect choice when custom framing is out of the budget. We've compiled the ultimate guide to ready made frames in Australia here, so if you're looking for a complete round up of what's available in the DIY frame market it's a great place to start. But for now, let's take a good look at the popular Kmart frames to see whether they're a winner or not.
Nowdays, there are so many budget frames available it's hard to know where to start. Kmart has been knocking it out of the park when it comes to on-trend homewares at great prices, and their frames have been hugely popular with savvy decorators around the country. We've done the hard work for you and put them to the test to see how they perform. So let's get started.
The price is the big selling point of these frames. Kmart's promise of low, low prices really does apply here - you can get an Anko A1 frame complete with mat (shown above) for $22! That price is ridiculously cheap, no doubt about it. Prices start at an unbelievable $1.25 for the Anko Monaco 4" x 6" photo frame (shown below), and the A1 frame is the most expensive in their range at $22. These are the cheapest budget frames on the market today, hands down.
As an added bonus, they also stock poster frames up to 24" x 36" ( 61cm x 91.5cm) for a crazy $16. These don't come with mats but if you're after large picture frames, Kmart has you covered here too.
If you're looking for major bang for your buck, it's hard to go past these frames. You can get a high-end look for a fraction of the price of custom frames.
One of the real selling points of Kmart's range of frames is that they offer large sizes - right up to A1 size. These have been really hard to find until now, so it's great to see them on the shelves. Of course, they also have most standard sizes from A4, A3 A2 and A1, as well as standard picture frame sizes; 8"x10" 16"x20" etc. You can also get picture collage frames, and square format frames. There are so many options you'll be sure to find a size to suit any print.
You've got three colour options with these frames - black, white or oak. The oak option is surprisingly good; they have a textured finish and look like real timber (which they're not). Most other oak-look frames are smooth and the colour isn't always great, so Kmart have really nailed it with the Anko range. You can see detail and finish of the Oak frame in my photo below:
The other main selling point for me is that they come with white mats as standard. Budget picture frames in larger sizes are usually marketed as 'Poster Frames' and come without mats, as this keeps the cost of production down quite a bit. The fact that Kmart frames come with mats is such a great selling point and it gives you the flexibility to use the mat - or not. I do think the mat elevates a budget frame and compliments the artwork nicely though, so it's a great inclusion.
Most budget frames come with perspex rather than glass or framing acrylic. If you compare perspex to glass you'll see it's not quite as clear but on the plus side, it's also not going to shatter into a million pieces. And it's a lot lighter than glass. So you can hang your frame using 3M hooks - great for renters or anyone who wants to change out their artwork regularly.
Personally, I think the Kmart perspex is pretty good considering the price - many other frames have really shiny perspex which means it's quite reflective. One thing to note is that perspex doesn't give you any protection from fading so bear that in mind if your print is going to be in a bright, sunny area.
Pro tip: These frames are perfect for kids' rooms. The perspex is light and you don't need to worry about glass breaking near little ones - safety first! It also means you can easily change out the artwork as they grow to give their rooms a new look quickly, easily and inexpensively.
Here's where we get down to the nitty-gritty.
Whenever you're going for a budget option, there are always compromises to be made. It's up to you to weigh up the pros and cons for yourself, but let's go through them now:
Firstly, the pros.
I've trialed a lot of off-the-shelf frames over the years, and as a rule the smaller the frame, the more sturdy they are. Which stands to reason of course. Smaller frames don't warp or twist as much as larger frames, and the lighter weight of the perspex means you can hang them easily and without drilling holes all over the place.
Pro tip: A great alternative to hanging is to lean them on a shelf, console or dresser. Even larger sizes look great displayed this way, and it gives a designer look without the designer budget. It also means less stress on the frame, and you'll get more life out of it this way.
Now, to the cons.
You'll need to really check each and every frame before you buy them. Many have gaps in the corners where the joins haven't been secured properly, and some of the perspex is scratched in production.
You can see in my photo below that some of the joins are damaged, and often the glue can seep out of the joint. Something to check in store before you choose your frame.
I've also noticed some of the mats are less white than others, so again, try to check each frame thoroughly in store before buying. Hold them side by side to make sure they colour is consistent and the frames are solid.
Another big issue is that the mats can warp and twist. This is because there isn't a lot of packing in the back of the frame to keep things flat and firm. I always suggest you use the paper that comes with the frame (showing the brand and size etc) in the back before you replace the backing board. Every little bit helps in this case so even an extra piece of paper under the backing can help keep things secure and minimise warping.
I tested one of the A1 frames in the photo below, and for the purposes of showing the warping I removed the perspex. Using the perspex does help to keep things flat, but with the recent rain you can see how the mats have warped in the frame. These mats are quite thin compared to high quality mats used by professional framers, which is part of the reason they can tend to twist out of shape over time.
Pro tip: I recommend customers buy as many extra frames as they can afford, and then pick the best of them - particularly if you're using multiple frames hung together. To be fair, Kmart has always been happy to refund any damaged frames without question so if you do find you get them home and there's a problem, they'll be happy to return them for you.
If you're trying to keep costs down, or you're styling a property for sale, Kmart frames can be a great budget option. The smaller sizes can work really well displayed as a collection and I often suggest this to customers as a way to avoid the problems with the large frames. No other budget frame is this inexpensive in larger sizes either, and most don't come with mats as standard, so Kmart frames are a winner if you want a large wall art print for a low price.
But a disclaimer: as with most things, you get what you pay for. If you've just bought the wall art print of your dreams and you can't wait to display it proudly in your home, it's definitely worth investing in a quality frame. That way, it'll look great for years to come and you won't have to replace it in a few months' time.
Stay tuned for our next post with all our pro tips and tricks to help your budget frames last the distance.
And if you decide that Kmart frames aren't for you, then you can check out or complete guide to DIY picture frames for other options.
Hope that helps, and feel free to hit me up with any questions you might have - I'm happy to help.
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