How to Frame Art and Photographs

It’s How-To Wednesday!

Collection of Framed Artimage via skonahem

Today we’ll be learning some basics about framing art and photographs. Getting artwork professionally framed can be expensive and learning how to do it yourself is a handy skill for anyone interested in interior design and decorating. Of course, if it’s an original painting that needs to be framed or if you’re dealing with a large or awkward project it’s best to leave it to the pros, but for smaller everyday jobs you only need a few tools and materials to get your art and photos on your walls in no time. Let’s get started.

Via framed Woman Playing a PoppinWoman Playing a Poppin by Michael Kriggan via

Choosing a Frame

Which frame you choose will largely depend on the image you are framing. The frame should complement the artwork, not compete with it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stick with a simple frame; an ornate frame can show off the right piece of art beautifully. Probably the best tip is not to pick a frame that is too small for the image. The image should have some breathing room.

via antique framesimage via etsy

A Word on Vintage or Antique Frames

I love the look of antique frames, but here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing an older frame. Pay attention to how the frame is assembled, some frames are easier to get apart than others. If there is already a picture inside you don’t want to ruin the frame trying to remove it.  Look carefully to make sure the glass doesn’t have scratches. Bring the frame into a bright light so you can see small imperfections that you may have otherwise overlooked.

Map Picture Frame via Martha Stewart WeddingsMap Picture Frame via Martha Stewart Weddings


A mat is a piece of board that surrounds the image. It can give your framed artwork or photo a more professional appearance. Although matboard comes in a range of colours, white and cream are most often used because they allow the images to stand out best. If you decide you like another colour or pattern better feel free to use it. Matbard comes in a range of thicknesses, 2-ply, 4-ply and 8-ply, and you can choose to double mat or even triple mat.

Even if you’re not purchasing a frame most framers will cut a custom mat for you, and sometimes they will even have scrap pieces of matboard that you can get for free if you ask. Generally the rule of thumb for mats is that it should create a border that is equal on all sides, or weighted slightly heavier on the on the bottom side. How much space there is between the image and the frame is largely a matter of preference, but again, I would warn against going too small.

Cutting a Mat via Oh Happy DayCutting a Mat image via Oh Happy Day

Basic Framing 101


linen tape (you don’t want to damage the original so you need something that can easily be removed and won’t stain. Your local art supply store should have tape that is suitable.)

framing wire (you can get this at most hardware stores)

glass, if you’re frame doesn’t come with any (you can get glass custom cut at most hardware and framing stores)

eye screws for attaching hanging wire if you’re frame doesn’t have them

Soft cloth and glass cleaning solution

Small finishing nails and hammer if your frame doesn’t have fasteners to keep it together

optional: mat cutter (mat cutters are expensive and require some practice and finesse but if you plan on doing a lot of framing it may be a worthwhile investment.)

via Seesaw Designs United Measures FrameUnited Measures Frame via Seesaw Design

Putting it all together

1. Disassemble the frame. You should have a frame, backing board, mat board and glass. it’s best to do this on a towel or another piece of soft fabric so nothing gets scratched.

2. Clean glass and make sure everything is free of dust and debris. Put glass inside frame.

3. using linen tape attach the image to the back of the matboard.  This may take a few tries but you want to make sure the image is even within the mat and not crooked.

4. Carefully place the mat, image and backing board into the frame. Before completing the assembly turn the frame over and have a look to make sure the image is where you want it to be and there is nothing trapped between the glass and mat.

5. Secure the glass, mat, image and board with the frame’s built-in fasteners, or with small finishing nails.

6. Attach hanging wire using eye screws.

7. Hang!

Framed Collection on display via Isabel Pires De Lima

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