Product Review: Metal Prints a Hot Product

Productive Review: Metal Prints a Hot Product

I sell two or three times more fine art metal (aluminum) photo prints than paper or canvas. Metal prints are a hot commodity right now!

Why is it that clients prefer metal over paper or canvas?

Metal prints are contemporary, elegant, durable and are no more expensive than paper or canvas. Prints come in a variety of sizes, finishes, frame options and number of panels.

The metal medium renders an image almost luminescent. The colors of metal prints are vibrant. Details jump out and grab you! I can’t tell you how many times potential clients look behind the easel to see if an image is backlit! This happens all the time with the Rock Wall Sunrise (131039LND8-SI) image below.

                                      Fine Art Single Panel Framed Metal Photo Print

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I am often asked how metal prints are made. Here is the explanation.

The best analogy I can think of is photographic film. Photographic film is a transparent plastic with light sensitive chemicals added to its surface to receive the image when the camera shutter opens and light strikes the film. The light penetrates the film at different densities creating shadows, highlights and mid tones.

When a metal print is created the (aluminum) surface is specially coated to accept the color dye. The dye is infused INTO (not onto) the metal surface transferring the photo details into the metal. A hard protective clear coat is then applied over the photograph. Let’s be clear, this is not a glossy metallic paper print glued to or heat transferred to the metal.

Metal prints can be ordered as a single or multi panel configuration.

Single panel prints are probably the most common. These prints can be framed or not. The frame does 'dress them up'. Both configurations beautiful and each arrives with wall hanging hardware attached.

 Fine Art Single Panel Framed Metal Photo Print      Fine Art Single Panel Unframed Metal Photo Print

Even long narrow single panel prints are available. For instance, the Smith Rock Summer Sunset (161523LND8-SI) image below can be printed as large as 7-1/2 feet by 2-1/2 feet!

                            Fine Art Unframed Panorama Single Panel Metal Photo Print

But that's not all. There are plenty of print vendors out there like Bay Photo who offer multi-panel metal prints. How about 3 panels or even 7 panels! The Bend Fall (151287NWND8-SI) below is a good example of how a multi-panel print can really make a statement. This print is 3-1/2 feet by 2-1/4 feet.

                              Seven Panel Unframed Fine Art Metal Photo Print

More common are 3 panel prints like this 6 foot by 3 foot Smith Rock Sunrise (131042LND8-SI) metal print taken at Smith Rock State Park.

                            3 Panel Fine Art Metal Photo Print


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So how durable are metal prints and how long will it last (archival quality)?

Metal prints are durable. They are ultra hard, scratch resistant, waterproof, and easy to clean. 

Scratch resistant not scratch proof. Durable but if treated poorly can be bent. But honestly you really have to work to scratch or bend one. 

I dropped one from about 5 feet off the ground while hanging it in my living room. The square corner of the metal stuck in my wood floor! Yes, it did bend but was hardly noticeable from a distance. Pretty durable.

Metal prints are easy to maintain. Use a Swifter or other non-abrasive cloth to dust them. Once hung finger prints shouldn’t be a problem but metal prints can be wiped down with a damp non-abrasive cloth if necessary. 

My biggest client is a hospital system. They purchased 300+ metal prints over time. They chose metal because they are durable and easy to clean.

These prints will last forever if cared for properly. They are just as long-lasting (archival) as canvas or paper. 

Keep in mind any print no matter the medium will fade over years if displayed in direct sunlight all day every day. Having said that, I have a client who hung one outdoor on the patio. It has been a few years now and so far the weather and sunlight has not changed its appearance!

Metal print finish options.

You can achieve almost any look with metal prints. For instance, metal prints look great framed or not. A wood frame gives the print a bit more of a traditional look without losing the luminescent and vibrant color and detail that might have attracted you to metal in the first place.

Finishes include high gloss or mid-gloss. If brilliant color and detail is what you’re after go with a glossy finish. Just keep in mind it is more reflective. If you’re concerned about reflection you may want to choose mid-gloss and give up a tad of vibrance.

Mid-gloss metal print finish exampleHigh gloss metal print finish example     Wood float frames for metal prints

Medium of choice for some but not all photos.

Generally speaking the more detail the image has the better it will work on metal. But if the piece has to compliment softer artwork in the room maybe paper or canvas is a better choice. 

When it comes right down to it the medium (metal, paper or canvas) you choose and the finishes are personal choice. Before you order a fine art metal print consider where it will hang, the room decor, other art in the room, and lighting including direct sunlight.

Any image can be printed to metal. If you are browsing my portfolio and see a photo you would like on metal that isn't currently offered just send an email or call. We can make it happen.


Metal prints are contemporary, unique, durable and come in a bunch of sizes and finishes. They are vibrant and the medium of choice for high resolution images with a lot of detail. They are easy to hang and are no more expensive than comparable sized and finished paper or canvas prints.


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Steve J. Giardini

Nature & Landscape Photographer

Giardini Photography, LLC

Bend, Oregon, USA


“Capturing the outdoor world in natural light."