Yes we're looking at you Anko! Are these cheap and cheerful frames from Kmart worth buying... or are they a waste of cash?
We have road tested Kmart frames for 2 years on a wall, in a lot of the shapes & sizes on offer. What did we find? Some things we noticed right away, other thing we didn't notice until they were off the wall. Check out our honest review and you decide before spending 😊
We will start with the good! The price of these frames is unbeatable. Sure they are mass produced in China but the quality is OK, and with a few adjustments they are workable for a budget friendly option. They come in modern colours and sleek profiles, and we love that Kmart has cool options like rose gold and special designs from time to time.
Things to look out for
The frames are a little fragile, so be careful when adding them to your shopping trolley in-store. Buying these online is a big NO-NO! Around 30-50% of frames in-store had visible scratches or cracks on the clear plastic face... not a fun discovery to make when you get them home and are all excited to get framing.
Another situation we noticed was the corners ding quite easily, so be careful when putting them in the car, on the floor, or on the table before framing. You can check out photos below of what happened to ours, A2 frame shown. While on the topic of corners, we noticed some glue like substance on the front in between the corner joins. This is not very visible on the white or timber colours, but you can really see it on the black. Again photos below, A2 frame is shown. We dodged this issue by colouring these in with a black sharpie! Not the best look as you can see its a DIY fix job, but better than what it was!
Hanging the frames
Most of the smaller sizes have pull out hooks on the back (as pictured on the left in below photo). These need nails or hooks in the wall to hang from. We avoided doing this as we know if you hang a frame from these hooks, it creates pressure at that point and over time will bend or "bow" the top of the frame at that pressure point, like this:
If that happens the frame can snap, crack and / or fall. Instead we used 3M command velcro strips to hang these and avoid that issue. The frame might last 6 months on the wall if the provided hooks pictured below are used. We did notice the Poster frame (61x91.5cm) at Kmart has different hooks where you can tie a string or hanging wire to, which is a much better & safer option (pictured on the right below).
Clear Plastic Faces
Really sorry, but these are very low quality. And they should be at these rock bottom prices! They are 1-0.5mm thin clear plastic sheets, not thick true UV acrylic or glass like we use. They offer no UV protection, crack easily under pressure or accidental dings, and show wavy lines when on the wall. They offer no support to the posters inside, and the posters will also start to wave to match them over time. Check out our photos below, its a little difficult to capture on camera but we have tried our best!
Yellowing of white frames
Ok so a nasty side effect we experienced was yellowing of white frames. This is because cheaper frames are not made using acid free materials. They are made of plastic, MDF, and cardboard. Light causes a reaction in these materials naturally, releasing chemicals which causes a yellowing effect over time. A good example of this is old white fridges and washing machines going yellow. Check out our side by side example below. The frame on the left was away from the light, the one on the right was closer to the window.
Lucky for us most of the prints did not fade as there is only filtered light in the test room. However the light closest to the window was the strongest, and the print nearest to there did experience a little fade. Not too much and not noticeable from a distance. However if you have a light filled room, keep in mind there is no UV protection in the plastic face and the print will start to fade over time.
We have left the nastiest to last! As we explained above the materials are not acid free and will yellow over time. What we did NOT expect was for the materials to affect the paint on the wall. When we took the prints off, we were left with yellow space where the print once was instead. It took 5-6 cleans with sugar soap to remove most of it, however it could not be completely removed and we are left with discolouration. The wall needs to be re-painted in the future. We removed some screws from the wall too and did a patch and spot paint job, you can see in the photos below the difference with fresh paint (from the same batch as used to paint the wall) and the old paint. You can also see the yellow squares left behind. A good way to combat this problem is to use acid-free masking tape & board on the back of these frames before putting them on the wall. Next time we know better. A good acid free tape is Sekisui brand (Google link here)
So there you have it! These frames are an amazing price, but you get what you pay for. Some lasting side affects like having to repaint your wall might be more expensive than buying professional frames in the first place. Don't forget to prepare your Kmart frame like we suggest above. They will last longer and have happier lives on your walls 😊
These frames are also great for a budget styling option if you are revamping a property for sale. They dont need to last the distance and you can lean them against a picture ledge, or use 3M velcro strips if they are light enough (which we found super useful!)
If you have an expensive print or something sentimental, we suggest using a higher end frame. It will protect your picture (and your walls!). You can buy good quality empty frames from us here. If you would like a run-down on where to buy DIY frames from cheaper to more expensive options in store, you can check out another of our blog posts here.
We hope you found this useful. If you have any suggestions or want to add to this, please comment below 🙌