AF plates are made of fibrous elements that are able to separate and hold back unwanted contaminating components like mold, dust, bacteria etc., while maintaining the flow of air. Another type is chemical filtration, such AF use special type of chemical component instead of physical interaction with contaminating elements. AF are presented in variations, that differ by the material used in the filter itself, like paper, foam, cotton, steel, oil and others, but HVAC/R and air purifiers mostly use 2 types of material - fiberglass and polyester. There are 3 stages of air filtering - pre-filter, after-filter and final filter, and each stage may utilize different type of AF plate to improve the purification quality.

Construction and layout of a filter plate may differ depending on the device that utilizes it. There are non-reusable AF that should be disposed after exploitation. Such utilities include mostly filters that are used to separate dangerous and poisonous particles. They are commonly equipped in factories and similar facilities. There are washable and reusable filters, they are mostly utilized in air purifiers and small HVAC/R systems, however they may require special chemical reagents to be adequately cleaned.