5 Step Guide to Framing Artwork

If you have recently bought a painting, drawing, print, or photograph the first step to protecting your new artwork and making the most of its beauty, is to get it framed.

There are many options available to you when having an artwork framed which can be intimidating and put you off from making creative decisions with your framing. Here's what you’ll want to consider when framing your art.

How many styles of frames are there?

You can buy framing materials online but may want to consider having an in-person consultation with a framer to get a proper look at each of the different framing options and available materials. Having invested financially in your new artwork, you’ll want to ensure that it is in the best possible hands and that you are fully informed in any framing decisions.

  • Standard Frame: Standard frames position the artwork directly beneath the glass with a mat (or ‘mount’) sandwiched between them for protection.
  • Floater Frame: Floater frames create more room between the artwork and the glass, with no mat used, making it seem like your artwork is hovering inside the deep frame.
  • Shadow Box: Shadow boxes, like floater frames, are deeper than standard frames. They are ideal for 3D artworks or objects which you want to see suspended within the frame.
  • Ornate Frames: Ornate, wooden frames are typically seen in museums and are often considered artworks in their own right. You can purchase second-hand ornate frames to add an appealing contrast to your contemporary artwork, or work with a frame-maker to create a frame with carved details.
  • Typical Colours: it is often the case that artworks are framed in white mounts and white frames, or in neutral colours like navy, brown or black. These colours might not necessarily be the most complimentary for your work and you should feel free to push the boat out and experiment with different coloured frames and mounts before making your final decision. Frames can be painted multiple colours on different sides to highlight colours within the work, so don’t feel constrained by tradition.

What is a mat and what type should I use?

When having work framed, a mat (also called a ‘mount’) should be used to separate the artwork itself from the glass of the frame. A mat is a thin surround made from paperboard or cotton rag which can offer protection to your work.

  • Protective Mats: Aside from elevating the beauty of your artwork, framing is also a key way to protect your artwork from damage and fading. Acid-free and conservation-level mats can help to neutralise acidity in the air which would otherwise cause your artwork to prematurely age.
  • Paper or Cotton Mats: Mats are typically made from wood pulp and cotton, which each have a different shelf-life. Cotton mounts can last more than a lifetime and offer consistent protection for your artwork.
  • Mat Styles: It is standard to choose a mat that is thicker than the frame of your artwork to lend a sense of balance to the final product. Thinner mats also run the risk of warping over time. It is common to have the mountboard cut at an angle to reveal a crisp line of colour (typically white or cream) at the mat’s centre. You may want to experiment with the colour of your mat to highlight colours in your artwork. It is also possible to double up on mats to incorporate a pop of colour into your framing.

Weight and fixtures

Where you are planning on hanging or placing your framed artwork will impact the maximum weight of your piece and the type of hanging fixtures needed.

  • Light Work on a Nail: For lighter work which can be hung on a single nail, sawtooth- and ring hangers may be your best choices.
  • Heavier Work on a Nail: For heavier pieces you may want to use screw eyes and picture wire, offering more secure support for the weight of the work and minimising any risk of the work falling from the wall.
  • Renter-Friendly Hanging: If you are looking for renter-friendly options, using removable adhesive strips can be a great way to go. You will need to make sure that there are no fixtures attached to the back of the frame which will get in the way.


What type of glass should I use to frame my art?

The glass that you chose for the framing of your artwork will impact the lasting quality of your piece as well as your viewing enjoyment.

  • Plate Glass: Plate glass is usually the cheapest option for framing, but it does not protect your artwork from dangerous UV rays which can discolour the artwork. Cheaper glass is also highly reflective which can disrupt your viewing experience and make it harder to photograph your framed piece.
  • Museum and Conservation Glass: Significantly more expensive than plate glass, museum- and conservation-grade glass will protect your work from around 99% of UV rays and reduce glare.
  • Plexiglas: Plexiglas is a plastic (rather than glass) material which is also a good option for artwork frames because it is budget-friendly and protects from UV rays and infrared which can damage your piece.

We have hundreds of ready-to-purchase artworks sourced directly from galleries and private collections. Many of the works available come pre-framed in the highest quality materials for protecting and elevating the piece, so you can rest assured in the lifespan of the work. Our advisers are on hand to advise you on framing options and suggestions for unframed pieces.



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