Why not Polystyrene Frames?

Yesterday, Jimmy fixed his very last polysterene frame.  Here’s why.

Lately, we’ve had many people bringing in their polysterene production framed prints and canvases (bought at Walmart, Homesense,Michael’s, what have you…) to us for repair.  Their piece fell off the wall and the corners are broken.  Or all they did is hang it up and it broke apart.  Or they just bought it for a great deal– $50 for a framed decorator artwork!!– and when they unwrapped it…. the corners are broken.

So because we are nice people, we have always said yes, we can fix… and then we’ve spent way too much time and effort and charged way too little for an end product that isn’t up to our standards anyhow.

But, it’s just an easy fix, right?  No.  It isn’t.  Just like renovations versus new construction, we can make a new beautiful frame start to finish way easier and faster than breaking apart your old frame, cutting it down and rejoining it.  And if we needed to make it smaller, well then we need to trim your glass and your mat pack.  The end result, after a valuable amount of our time, is good and a whole lot safer than it was… but it’s still just a plastic frame.

If you want a good quality frame, you need to use good quality materials.  Wood is solid and stable and doesn’t break when you look at it.  A lot of times a wood frame will even stay together if it falls off your wall–we have replaced lots of glass in wooden frames that have jumped off walls.  We even have some MDF mouldings with foil finishes– they work well too. We also carry metal.  It’s not my favourite, but you know if you choose the right profile for the size of the piece (which I make sure we do), it can work (and I mean support the stuff inside and not fall off and hurt someone).

We do not carry polystyrene frames and there is a really great reason: they are plastic.  And plastic does not create a nice safe solid long lasting frame.  Once broken, plastic does not fix well.  It does not even make for good recycling (please see Wikipedia definition below).

So, go ahead and buy your decor polystyrene frames.  Just know what you are buying.  How can you tell?  Well does it look cheap?  Is it really light?  Is it crazy inexpensive?  Then it’s plastic.   You don’t expect plastic toys from the Dollar Store to last forever (I’ve seen them break before they were even played with in fact) so don’t expect your plastic frame to either. Like so much in this world, a polystyrene frame is meant to be disposable, transient and cheap.  Enjoy it while you can then let it go.

A polystyrene frame... once it's broken it's broken.  Throw it away.

A polystyrene frame… once it’s broken it’s broken.            Please just throw it away.

From Wikipedia:

Polystyrene (PS/ˌpɒliˈstrn/ is a synthetic aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene. Polystyrene can be solid or foamed. General purpose polystyrene is clear, hard, and rather brittle. It is an inexpensive resin per unit weight. It is a rather poor barrier to oxygen and water vapor and has a relatively low melting point.[4] Polystyrene is one of the most widely used plastics, the scale of its production being several billion kilograms per year.[5] Polystyrene can be naturally transparent, but can be colored with colorants. Uses include protective packaging (such as packing peanuts and CD and DVD cases), containers (such as “clamshells”), lids, bottles, trays, tumblers, and disposable cutlery.[4]

As a thermoplastic polymer, polystyrene is in a solid (glassy) state at room temperature but flows if heated above about 100 °C, its glass transition temperature. It becomes rigid again when cooled. This temperature behavior is exploited for extrusion, and also for molding and vacuum forming, since it can be cast into molds with fine detail.

Polystyrene is very slow to biodegrade and is therefore a focus of controversy. It is often abundant as a form of litter in the outdoor environment, particularly along shores and waterways, especially in its foam form.