“Help, I Have No Idea Where To Begin” Buyers Guide.
Hopefully, this guide will provide a helping hand to understand what is the best option for you. Of course, we’re just an email, live chat or phone call away too if you need some additional help. Before we begin the buyer’s guide it’s helpful to see a bird’s eye view of the various products in a table form. Once you’ve reviewed the table, go through the detailed guide to confirm your product choice. The guide will finish up with an FAQ.
[All products come ready to hang and float ¾” from the wall for a modern floating off the wall look (the 1” acrylic block has the option to hang or stand alone.]
⅛” & ¼”
Wood/Wire Or Alum/Cleat
Paper, Hang Upgrade, Edge Finish,, TruLife (⅛”)
Paper, Includes Edge Finish & Hang Upgrade
Paper, Hang or Standalone, Includes Edge Finish.
Wood/Wire Or Alum/Cleat
Paper, Hang Upgrade
Wood/Wire Or Alum/Cleat
Paper, Hang Upgrade
Wire Hang Only
|Step 1: The Look – Vibrant or Softer, Matte?|
What if I’m not sure what look I want? There are three important things to consider when determining whether you want a vibrant/glossy or a matte look. The majority of our customers do opt for the vibrancy of our popular acrylic products, but consider the following when determining if it’s the right option for you:
Type Of Photo. Photos with bold colors (including bold B&W’s) really lend themselves well to the vibrant/glossy look of the acrylic. Softer photos certainly look nice either way, but some prefer to pair it with the more matte look of our bamboo, aluminum, dibond or gatorfoam product.
Examples of photos that would look great with our acrylic product.
Examples of photos that might be a better fit for the softer, more matte look products.
Reflection. Most people aren’t too concerned with some reflection. There is reflection in the acrylic and similar to what you’d see in traditional glass frames. Our premium TruLife acrylic product (available only in ⅛”) will reduce some of the reflection (25-30% by our estimates). Reflection can also be reduced by strategic placement and good overhead art lighting. If this is a big concern, you’ll want the softer, more matte look products which have zero glare.
Price. If you’re on a tight budget, but still want a durable, gallery quality look we typically recommend our dibond product which offers a softer, more matte look as well.
|I Want Vibrant & Glossy|
If you want a vibrant, near glossy look, then the only choice is acrylic!
If a vibrant, near glossy look, is what you’re after, look no further than our very popular acrylic (otherwise known as plexiglass) product. We offer it as ⅛”, ¼”, ½” and 1” thick. This is our signature product. Acrylic face mounting is gaining popularity among those wanting a superior presentation with vibrancy that no other framing or mounting option can match. We print your photo on high quality photo paper (satin or metallic), then face mount your image to the acrylic (plexiglass) so that you’re looking through the acrylic at your print. Acrylic is unique in that light refracts within the acrylic (instead of passing through as it does with glass). With the right lighting, your photo almost appears backlit. To keep the print rigid, protected and provide a place to install hidden floating and hanging hardware, we back it with dibond. The result is a stunning presentation which appears to float off the wall as you can see in the product photos below.
⇨ Shopping Around? Not all acrylic prints are made equally. Wherever you decide to buy your acrylic print (we hope you choose us!), be aware of the following ways companies produce them to offer them cheaper. You get what you pay for certainly applies in the printing industry. If you see pricing that is significantly lower between companies, chances are very good they are created differently so know what you’re paying for. There are a few big differences that you’ll often see:
Direct to Acrylic Print Vs Face Mount Method: Many companies print directly to the acrylic where the ink is infused into the acrylic rather than printing to high quality photo paper and face mounting. The direct print method is cheaper, but you’ll give up some vibrancy and color accuracy. It’s best suited for signage and graphics as well as outdoor applications. The face mount method which is what we provide is better suited for fine art.
Backer & Hanging: Another big difference is in the way it’s backed and adhered to the wall. The best way to do this is with a dibond backer because it’s very light and very sturdy. It will keep the print protected, keep it from bowing over time and provide a place to hide the hardware for that modern, floating look. Another way to do this is with no backer which require the stand off bolts in each corner (distracting to the image, no floating look and time consuming hang process). Some companies will emulate the dibond backer with a sintra backer because it’s cheaper, but it simply won’t provide the same level of rigidity which is particularly important for larger pieces. We have also seen companies sending out acrylic prints with no backer at all and adhering float/hang hardware directly to the print. Not good.
Outsourcing: Acrylic face mounted prints aren’t easy to produce flawlessly with consistency across color and craftsmanship. That’s why it’s very difficult to control quality when it’s outsourced. Some companies will outsource the work and never see the end product. That will never happen with our shop. Not only are all of our materials sourced locally, but every single print and mounted product is hand-crafted and inspected thoroughly in our shop in Seattle. We control every aspect and are meticulous in the creation of our products.
|Acrylic Product Options|
We offer several configuration options with our acrylic product and we certainly get quite a few questions on the differences of all the options and what is best for what you need as well as your budget.
Size. I’ll start with the obvious first choice of size selection which can certainly be limited by the resolution and camera quality. I’ll get into this more in the ordering section. For now, it’s important to know the size restrictions of the acrylic product based on thickness.
⅛” & ¼” thickness – Any size up to 96×48”. Max square 48×48.
½” thickness – Any size up to 40×30”. Max square 30×30”.
1” thickness – Limited to stocked sizes of 7×7, 10×10, 15×15, 8×6, 12×9, 20×15, 12×8, 15×10, 18×12, 16×4 and 20×6. We can do custom sizes but require a minimum purchase of 5 or more with longer lead time.
⇨ Any size down to the ¼” increment and up to 40×30” (30×30” square) can be ordered online. Larger sizes are not available for online orders since shipping begins to jump and really varies on how many prints you’re ordering and where they’re being shipped to. For larger sizes you can contact us or upload your image here.
Paper Type (Satin Vs Metallic). We offer two high quality photo papers to choose from – a Mitsubishi Diamond Jet Satin which is a great choice for softer images and those where people are the focal point (ie family portraits). Our metallic paper is a very popular choice for bold photos with rich color and when paired with the acrylic, offers stunning depth and vibrancy. The metallic just gives it a little extra pop. If you’re unsure about which paper is best for your image please contact us.
Acrylic Type (Regular vs TruLife). Recently, we began offering a premium acrylic called TruLife (only available in ⅛”) which offers a few advantages such as 25-30% glare reduction, increased UV protection (from 75% to 99%), scratch resistance, anti-static properties to minimize dust, and can be cleaned with any non-ammonia cleaner (regular acrylic requires special cleaner such as Brillianize).
Acrylic Thickness (⅛”, ¼”, ½” and 1”). While all thickness levels will look great, the thicker you go you’ll get a bit more depth and vibrancy. It isn’t dramatically different, but with the right lighting can be significant. The biggest difference will be the 3D effect on the side (with the diamond polished edge) since you’ll be able to see through the edge at the image (you can see really see this well in the 1” acrylic photo block image below (right). The image to the left provides a good comparison of the ⅛, , ¼ and ½ acrylic thickness stacked on top of each other.
Edge Finish Option (Routed Vs Diamond Polished). The choice for this option really depends on the thickness you choose above. You can see in the photo at the end of this section that the diamond polished edge provides a clear, see through edge while the routed edge is more opaque.
⇨ Max size for diamond polished edge is 45×30”. We diamond polish the edge which is the absolute best method for a beautiful edge, but unfortunately, it does have its size limitations. A non-polished edge still looks great it’s just more opaque rather than see through.
⅛” – Optional. The edge isn’t as prominent, so diamond polished edge won’t make as much of a difference. It’s about 50/50 on what our customers prefer at this thickness.
¼” – Recommended. With the ¼” you’re getting a significant edge so now we start recommending the diamond polished edge. We’d estimate about 75% of our customers opt for the polished edge at this thickness.
½” – Included. With the ½” we require the diamond polished edge.
1” – Included. Required with the acrylic blocks as well.
Hang & Float Option. Every acrylic print arrives ready to hang with the exception of the 1” acrylic blocks in which you have the option to hang since they will stand up on their own (nice for desktops and mantles). The default float and hanging system uses kiln dried doug fir wood and hanging wire. For most people, the wood/wire solution is the best option and included in the price. It’s the fastest way to hang your print (included drywall hook). No tools required! The aluminum/cleat float and hanging option provides a more elegant look, but requires more work to hang and adds a bit to the price. It’s most popular with those reselling their work (ie pro photographers) and those wanting a more secure hanging solution (ie corporate clients in high traffic areas). Once the print is up on the wall, you won’t see any of the hardware on the back.
⇨ Hang and float system is optional on the 1” acrylic blocks.
⇨ All ⅛” & ¼” sizes above 40×30” (and all ½” thick sizes) will not have the hanging wire option due to increased weight. For these pieces, we include a full subframe with french cleat by default for more secure hanging.
|I Know I Want Acrylic, But Still Not Sure What Is Best For Me|
Ok so you’re certain you want the vibrant acrylic look and have looked at the different options, but still not sure what is the best configuration for you. No problem! We know there is a lot to choose from so it’s best to end the acrylic portion of our buyers guide with some popular configurations based on budget, customer type and display location.
Budget Friendlier: you still want the great vibrancy of the acrylic, but want to save some money? Go with the ⅛” acrylic, no polish and satin paper.
Gallery Quality: a typical configuration for display in a gallery would be the ¼” acrylic with diamond polished edge as well as the ⅛” premium TruLife acrylic since that is scratch resistant (great if being handled quite a bit).
I Want The Absolute Best: if you have the budget for it and want the best of the best then consider all the upgrades. That means ½” acrylic (up to 40×30), polished edge, metallic paper and aluminum/cleat hanging.
Hang or Standalone? All of our products come ready to hang out of the box by default (optional with 1” acrylic photo blocks). If you’re looking for a great product for a desk, shelf or mantle that will stand on its own, than those 1” acrylic photo blocks are perfect.
Corporate/Public Spaces: if you’re hanging your prints in high traffic areas we highly recommend going with an aluminum/cleat hanging option for a more secure hang. We can also provide a security solution for public spaces so your prints stay on the wall.
Pro Photographers & Resellers: the best option here really depends on your client and their budget. If your print will be moved around quite a bit (from show to show for example), you might consider the TruLife since it’s scratch resistant.
|I Prefer A Softer, More Matte Look|
All of our products outside of the acrylic will have a softer, more matte look to them. The four biggest reasons people choose this option is:
They have a softer photo (see some samples at the beginning of this report).
The want a cheaper option and focus on the dibond product (best budget friendly option).
They don’t want to see any reflections.
They just really like the other options outside of the acrylic.
⇨ Your photo will have the same look across all softer, matte products (bamboo, raw aluminum, dibond and gatorfoam) since the photo is mounted and laminated to the front of the substrate and has no acrylic face. The only difference is in the appearance on the side.
|Softer, Matte Product Options|
Paper Type Option (all products): Metallic or Satin. Metallic paper is a popular upgrade because it provides a bit more depth and pop to the image without changing true color. It works best with bold images. We typically recommend the satin paper with softer images and those where people are featured such as family portraits, etc.
Hang Option (aluminum & dibond only): Wood/Wire or Aluminum/Cleat. By default, all the art comes ready to hang with kiln dried doug fir float blocks (with exception of gatorfoam which uses foam floats) and wire. For most people, the wood/wire solution is the best option and included in the price. It’s the fastest way to hang your print (included drywall hook). No tools required! The aluminum/cleat float and hanging option provides a more elegant look, but requires more work to hang and adds a bit to the price. It’s most popular with those reselling their work (ie pro photographers) and those wanting a more secure hanging solution (ie corporate clients in high traffic areas).
⇨ Gatorfoam & Bamboo don’t have the aluminum/cleat option. Only wire hanging.
⇨ Dibond and Aluminum do have the aluminum/cleat hang option. For Dibond sizes over 40×30” we prefer to use a cleat system.
[The more elegant aluminum/cleat hanging is on left, the easier to hang wood/wire on right]
|Softer, Matte Mounting Materials|
Each ¾” thick bamboo piece is hand-sanded and stained to perfection. The print is mounted to the bamboo and protected with a laminate. Includes 3/4″ floater blocks and hanging hardware. No tools needed to hang!
⇨ Max size is 36” on the longest side. Custom sizes now available in ¼” increments.
⇨ The only product option available with the bamboo is the paper type. If you’re ready to configure an order for our bamboo product you can do so here.
Your photo print is mounted to a sheet of 1/8″ raw aluminum for a sleek, contemporary look. The print is protected with a laminate and offers a soft, matte look. Comes ready to hang and floats ¾” from the wall.
⇨ Max size is 36” on the longest side. Custom sizes available in ¼” increments.
⇨ The product options available with the aluminum is paper type and hang/float type. If you’re ready to create an order with our aluminum product you can do so here.
Dibond is our budget friendly alternative to raw aluminum and a nice upgrade over gatorfoam. It consists of a hard black plastic core with two thin sheets of aluminum on the outside. It’s rigid and light-weight making it a great option for very large pieces. The print is mounted to the dibond and protected with a laminate.
⇨ Max size is 96” on longest side, 48” on shortest side. Max 48×48” square. Custom sizes available in ¼” increments.
⇨ The product options available with the dibond is paper type and hang/float type. If you’re ready to create an order with our dibond product you can do so here.
Gatorfoam is the most budget friendly option. Your print is mounted to lightweight but rigid 3/4″ gatorfoam. The corners can be fragile so this product not recommended if handled often or for resale. Consider dibond instead. The print is mounted to the gatorfoam and protected with a satin laminate offering a softer, more matte look. Includes 3/4″ floater blocks and hanging hardware. No tools needed to hang!
⇨ Max size is 96” on longest side, 48” on shortest side. Max 48×48” square. Custom sizes available in ¼” increments.
⇨ The only product option available with gatorfoam is paper type. If you’re ready to create an order with our gatorfoam product you can do so here.
Great, you’re ready to order your art! We’ve been building and perfecting our online order system over several years to make this process as easy as possible across any device. Once you upload your photo, our system will auto determine that max print size based on the pixels of the photo in addition to determining of a standard size or custom size is the best fit to avoid cropping.
⇨ Online ordering available with JPG and TIFF files under 100MB. If you have a PDF file or a file over 100MB, please send to us via FTP and we will handle the order offline.
⇨ Online orders only available for 40×30” and smaller print sizes (30×30 square). For larger prints send to us via FTP so we can review print quality and determine freight shipping price.
⇨ Online orders only available if shipping within US or Canada. For all other orders please contact us.
Across the top of order configuration area, you’ll see the tab for each product across the top. If you’re not already on the product tab you want, be sure to move to that tab.
⇨ Yes, you can order just a paper print with no mounting! Just choose the “Print” tab on the far right to configure.
When you come to the online order page, you begin the process by uploading your photo (pink button). Once the photo uploads it will show up in the preview window and all the size options will display. The “Your Photos” section will display all your uploaded files and you can select your files from here and delete them if you’d like.
⇨ The “Your Photos” section is not permanent storage. While we do have plans to allow our customers to permanently store photos in their account, for now these photos are only retained for a week (shorter if you clear your browser cookies). However, your shopping cart contents will remain for much longer.
After you upload your photo, the max print size information will display and all the size options will appear as shown in the example below.
In this example, our system has determined that the photo has enough resolution for a print that is 50.5×33.5”, but for an online order the max is 40×26.5.
From there, it also determines the best aspect ratio for a print with no cropping. Standard aspect ratios (the ratio of width to height) are 3:2 (most digital cameras), 4:3 and square. If your photo falls outside of one of these common size ratios (for example a panoramic), our system will auto select a custom size for you. In this example you see the image is perfectly 3:2 and auto selects one of those stocked, standard sizes.
⇨ The custom size option is not only for photos with unique dimensions (pano for example), but also for ordering any size in ¼” increments. Simply use the arrow buttons or you can highlight and replace the print size manually.
⇨ Keep the “keep the aspect ratio” checkbox checked if you want a custom size with no cropping. If you fill in a dimension on one side, the other side will auto calculate.
⇨ Standard, stocked sizes are a bit cheaper per sq inch and get out a couple days faster than a custom size.
There may be times when you want to crop a portion of your photo and that is really easy to do in our system as well.
In the example below, I have used the same image as above, but chose a square size. Obviously, this isn’t a square photo, so cropping will be needed to make it square. You can see that the crop window is highlighted with a dashed edge and a brighter window. The outer, darker area is the area that will be cropped.
⇨ Shrink or enlarge the crop window by selecting any of the small squares on the edge and moving in or out.
⇨ Move entire crop window by selecting any portion of the crop window and moving.
⇨ Hit the pink crop button when you’re satisfied with your crop placement!
Once you’ve determined the size you want and done any cropping, you’re ready to move on to the product options and add to your shopping cart.
In this example, I chose to use the product options area for our acrylic product (⅛, ¼, ½) since it has the most options to choose from. For other products, you’ll see fewer options.
We try to make this process as easy as possible for you by describing each option. Just hover your mouse over each to show the description of each option. The options available are within a drop-down menu and you can see the options as well as the additional upgrade price next to each option. So for example, the Paper Option is showing Satin (+0) since that is included in the price. If you select that menu, you’ll see a metallic paper option for a bit more.
⇨ If you change the print size, all the options pricing and total will update automatically.
⇨ Want to just see how your print looks behind acrylic at small scale? Choose the Proof option! It excludes the dibond backer and hanging hardware.
Once you’ve selected all your options, simply hit Add To Cart to bring up your cart preview window as shown below.
From here, you have three options. Add More Art to go back to the configuration area to add another product, Edit Cart to remove products or add quantity to an existing product OR I’m Ready to Checkout to head to our final checkout page.
⇨ It’s not possible to edit the configuration of a specific product after it’s been added to the cart. If you need to make a change (for example change the satin paper to metallic paper), you would need to delete the product, reconfigure it and add it to cart again.
Once you’re satisfied with your cart just hit I’m Ready To Checkout and you’ll be taken to our super simple checkout page!
⇨ Yes, you can put in a separate shipping address to drop ship your order!
⇨ Sorry, orders shipping outside Canada & USA are not available online. Please contact us for international orders.
⇨ Rush production option available to get your order out in 24-48 hours!
⇨ Expedited shipping options available too!