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What Is A Floater Frame?

canvas print in a floater frame

Floating Picture Frames Explained

Whether it’s a photograph or a painting, often a frame is the finishing touch before displaying the artwork on your wall.

Frames can be made from various materials & come in a choice of colour & styles.

So what's a floater frame? It’s a frame that’s designed so the artwork sits within it without touching or butting up to the edges. This gap between the frame & art piece creates the illusion that the artwork is floating within the frame.

This style of frame has become very popular & most printers nowadays offer a floater frame as an option for your prints.

This is also true for photographers selling their work, as well as just buying a print, there’s options for certain frames including floater frames.

Can A Floater Frame Be Used For Any Artwork?

Most often it’s canvas prints that use floating frames, but a photograph can be printed to or mounted on different substrates in order to be framed.

Floating Frames For Canvas Prints

If you’ve ever used a print service for having your photos on canvas, you’ve probably already seen the option for a floating frame.

Generally it will be a canvas wrap that is appropriate for framing.

A wrap usually has the image bleeding all the way around the stretcher bars, although white or black edges are also an option.

A stretched canvas or studio wrap isn’t suitable as the staples are visible around the edges.

close up of a floater frame
A canvas print mounted in a floating frame


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Floating Frames For Photographic Prints

It’s possible to display a photographic print in a floating frame, but it will first need to be mounted to a substrate.

There’s a number of ways that this can be achieved & various mounting substrates available.


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Whichever mounting method you use, the print will be sealed with a protective clear coat.

What gives floating frames their clean, modern look is that the print doesn’t need to be mounted under glass as in a conventional picture frame.

Floating Frames For Acrylic Prints

What makes acrylic prints unique, as well as their amazing colour depth & vibrancy, is that they look wonderful without a frame.

There’s different ways an image can be transferred to acrylic, but the fact you can see through the edges is one of their features.

A print using a thinner acrylic can be framed, but I haven’t come across these styles of artworks using a floating frame.


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Floating Frames For Metal Prints

Like acrylic, metal prints look stunning unframed.

There are 3 methods to print to aluminium, each with it’s own individual appeal, but metal prints are famous for their almost 3D quality.

But because metal prints are thinner & lightweight, floating frames can be a wonderful option.


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Are Floating Frames Easy To Hang?

When you order or buy a print with a floater frame, the appropriate hanging hardware will be supplied.

So even a larger print will come with the best hanging hardware for the job.

Floating frames can be made from lightweight plastics & or aluminium, but also actual wood.

But they’re no more difficult to mount to the wall than any other framed picture.

Choosing A Floating Frame

Like many things in life, picking a style or colour can come down to personal preference & taste.

In many ways, this holds true for choosing a frame.

The most available colours for floater frames are white, black, various shades of brown & natural wood.

It’s important that the frame compliments & is appropriate for the image.


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Most colours of floater frames would sit well with any subject matter or art style.

Also the room’s décor needs to be considered.


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Floater frames do have a modern & contemporary feel, so they may not always suit every space. If you have a farmhouse or vintage style décor for example, they may look out of place.

5 Advantages Of Floating Frames

Although standard picture frames are available in a variety of colours & styles from modern to ornate, floater frames have their own unique qualities.

1. Protection

Any frame will offer protection for a print, but floater frames are unique in that the print doesn’t touch the frame.

So this eliminates any degradation due to the print being in contact with paint or other contaminants.

Fantastic for those expensive fine art & limited edition prints.

As with any frame, they also stop the actual print being bumped or knocked, especially in high traffic areas.

2. Match For Any Décor

Although the contemporary look of floater frames may not work with certain décor styles, they can be a solution for an image or painting that may otherwise not work with the colours in a room.

By choosing a frame colour that is either neutral or matches existing décor, even the most brash & colourful artwork can really pop.

3. Artwork Will Stand Out

Similar to what’s been mentioned above, if you have an artwork whose colours blend into the wall it’s hanging on, a floater frame will create that definition, a visual border to separate the art from the wall.

4. If You Love Canvas

I love canvas prints, they’re fantastic value for money while still offering fabulous image quality.

I find certain images seem to suit canvas over other print mediums.

But the unframed wrap may not be your thing.

A floating frame brings that finished & contemporary feel whilst still retaining the texture & look that canvas offers.

5. Gallery Wall

They’re ideal for creating a gallery wall.

Either with prints & frames all the same size, or mixing & matching to make your own design.

Gallery walls can also look really funky when a bunch of different style & coloured frames are used.

So by having your main print within a floating frame, the various other frames can be arranged around it.

Final Thoughts

Because floating frames are so popular, they’re readily available through most print labs & many artists or photographers (including myself) also offer them as an option.

So they’re an easy & convenient way to add extra style to the artwork itself, as well as the space it’s going to hang it in.

You don’t need to spend time contacting custom framers, just order your print & it’s ready to hang straight out of the box.

I hope this article was helpful & if you feel it could be of value to someone else.. I always appreciate a share.


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