Everything You Need to Know Before Buying Picture Frames

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying Picture Frames

While aesthetics play a crucial role in the choice of frame you buy, it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. There are other important things you must pay attention to before buying picture frames. Without paying attention to these things, you may end up buying the wrong frame or one you’ll later regret.

There are a variety of options on frames and this makes it sometimes difficult to know the best option. However, with this guide, you’ll be able to decide which picture frame option is best for your art or photo. Make sure you read till the end as we will be discussing in detail everything you need to know before choosing picture frames.

We’ve broken the process of choosing a picture frame into 5 key steps. Let’s now consider these steps one after the other.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Picture Frame

Things you must consider when buying a picture frame are:

1. What are you framing?

This is the first question you must ask yourself when you want to buy picture frames. What do you want to frame? Is it something precious or irreplaceable? What you want to frame will determine the kind of frame you will need to get. If what you are framing is precious to you, you need to consider buying a quality frame that will help to preserve it for years to come. If what you want to frame is something that is not very important (like a low-cost digital print), you can go for a budget frame. For objects of sentimental value or things that are of real value to you, you need to buy high-quality custom frames.

Another thing you must look out for is the thickness of the item you want to frame. Is the item something thick like a sports jersey or a canvas, or is it something flat? For thicker items, you can use canvas floater frames or shadow box frames that fit the dimension of your item.

2. What frame style will best suit your picture?

In choosing a picture frame, it’s important that you pay attention to the style of the frame. The frame style should suit the picture that will sit inside it as well as the space where it will be displayed. Pay attention to the colors and details. Observe the colors that are featured in the artwork and pick a frame with a color palette that highlights or complements the imagery.

Most quality frames are made from wood or metals. Those made with wood are traditional in appearance and they give your art or picture an elegant flair. However, solid wood frames are sometimes heavy. You can select this kind of frames if you have strong walls and hooks that can support them.

On the other hand, metal frames are lightweight. They are made mostly from aluminum and this is what makes them lightweight and durable. Metal frames give a more modern and minimalist aura. There are a variety of colors and designs for both metal and wooden frames; so, you can easily find a style to suit your picture.

3. What size is it?

When buying a picture frame, you need to consider the size of what you want to frame, especially if you are buying the frame online. You’ll need to measure accurately the minimum and maximum dimensions of the item you want to frame so that the framer can accommodate your piece, or so that you can get a ready-made frame that will suit the piece.

If the piece of art or photo you want to frame is small, you may observe that they are not so easy to frame by themselves. For such pieces, you may need to add mats or mat boards. Adding matting will help you get around the difficulty as well as add character, depth, and an amazing appeal to the piece. If you decide on adding the mat board, it is recommended that you allow a quarter of an inch overlap, for the photo or artwork. This will help to prevent fall out of the matting or exposure to the backing.

The orientation of your art is another thing you must ponder on. Will the art be displayed in a portrait or landscape layout? After you have decided on this, you can commence measuring. Measure the height and width of the artwork or photo and be careful not to mix up the units of measurement. If the item you want to frame is thick, you’ll need to measure the depth also.

4. What type of glazing or cover is best: glass or acrylic?

Another important consideration when buying a picture frame is the frame’s glazing. The glazing is the piece of the frame that covers the photo or art and yet allows you to view what’s in the frame. What type of glazing will suit your art or photo best? You can select between a cover made from glass or a cover made from acrylic. It’s important that you select a material that will show off your artwork as well as protect it. Glass frame covers are the more traditional frame cover choice. They provide an excellent clear finish and also serve as protection for your artwork. However, glass frame covers can easily break, and therefore, they need to be packaged and handled with care.

Acrylic frame covers have a similar appearance to glass, but they are more lightweight, durable, and are less susceptible to breaking.

When purchasing a cover, the final thing you must consider is the finish. There are two main finish options and both give a different look. You can select between a clear finish or a non-glare finish. The clear finish is the most conventional and is ideal for most art. It is crystal clear, just like the name suggests. The non-glare finish lightly diffuses and softens your artwork’s color to prevent any extreme glare from direct light sources.

Also, you can choose an anti-reflective finish. An anti-reflective finish is a coating that perfectly eliminates glare. It does not have the drawbacks of the non-glare finishes.

5. Which backing is best?

Although the backing of your framed photograph or art is not normally on display, you still need to select the best backing. There are three main types of backing you can choose from – foam board, cardboard, and plastic.

Foam board which is also known as foamcore is the safest and most used type of backing. It is lightweight and easy to cut and so, it can be used for any size of an artwork. Another advantage of foamcore is that it is acid-free. Acid-free backing is what is recommended as it can preserve your art.

Cardboard is lightweight and strong. However, some types of cardboard are highly acidic (corrugated cardboard). Therefore, it is best for you to avoid frames with cardboard backings, especially if the art or photo you want to frame is one that is precious to you.

Plastic can also be used as frame backing; although, it is used mostly in double-sided frames where the back and front can be interchangeable. Plastic is lightweight and durable, like cardboard. For plastic backings, it is recommended that you go for archival plastic. Such plastics are acid-free and will keep your art looking its best for many years.

Other things to consider when buying picture frames are:

Aesthetics — The frame should be aesthetically pleasing.

Safety — Where will you be hanging the frame?

Budget —What’s your budget for the frame that you want to buy? A frame’s price is influenced majorly by the molding and size.

Where to buy the picture frame — Depending on your preference, you can either buy picture frames online or from local framers in your area. Both options have their unique advantages; whichever is more affordable and convenient for you or whichever works best for you is the option you should go for.


Buying the perfect picture frame for your art or photo may look challenging, but with the tips that have been discussed above, you’ll find it easy. Keep these tips in mind when buying your next frame and you’ll find the process hassle-free.

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