Framing Paper Art Prints: How to Choose the Right Frame for Your Artwork and Protect Your Investment
How to frame art prints at home
Framing prints yourself can be fairly simple if you have the patience for it and it can also save you a lot of money. First, you should understand what makes up a frame.
A quality framed art print is comprised of the frame itself, the glass, the matte board beneath with the print, and finally a backing to seal it off. Some store bought frames will come with everything assembled and that's what I'd recommend if this is your first time. Otherwise, if you choose to buy all the components separately, you'll need a frame point driver to properly secure the backing. However, sometimes doing it all yourself starting with an open back frame can ensure you get the right quality, colors, and aesthetics you're looking for.
But before you buy, here are a few key steps to take when framing your art prints yourself:
Measure your print: Measure the print to determine the size of the matting and frame you will need. Make sure to measure the print image itself, not the paper it is printed on.
Choose the matting: Matting is the border that surrounds the print and separates it from the frame. This isn't a required step, but is a popular option as adding a mat border gives art prints an elegant finish when paired with a frame. Matting comes in a variety of colors, textures, and thicknesses. Be sure to use acid-free or archival matting to protect the print from acidity and discoloration. Acid-free matting is made from materials that have a neutral pH and will not react with the paper over time. If you wish to go this route be sure to choose a matting that complements the colors in the print, white is always a safe bet. You can browse matting here or head to a store like Michaels where someone can guide you through the process and ensure that your print is properly matted, framed and protected. Another convenient option to shop for pre- cut matting is on Amazon.
Important: You'll want the mat to be the size of the frame you chose with an opening cut to the dimensions of the image on the print. Keep in mind that if your print is signed and numbered to leave some room in the mat opening to display those details.
Choose the frame: Select a frame that complements the print and the matting. Wood, metal and acrylic frames are the most common options. Use a frame with a tight fit to prevent the print from shifting or sliding inside the frame. A tight fit will also help to protect the print from moisture and dust. You can shop for frames online at Amazon or Dick Blick for specific dimensions or at any local framing/art supply store.
Mount the print: Place the print on top of the matting carefully, with the image centered as best as possible. Use acid-free tape or photo mounting corners to attach the print to the matting. Depending on the frame, you could opt to use a backing board to provide additional support for the print and to prevent it from sagging or warping over time. A backing board also helps to keep the print in place and protects it from damage.
Assemble the frame: Place the matting and print into the frame, making sure it is centered and level. Secure the backing and put on the frame's hanging wire or hardware if applicable.
Hang or display the framed print: Once the frame is assembled, you are ready to hang it or display it on a table or shelf! If possible, avoid displaying your art print in direct sunlight as it can cause discoloration and fading over time. You can use UV-filtering glass to protect the print from fading caused by exposure to UV light. UV-filtering glass will block out UV light and protect the print from discoloration and fading.
"Restored Beauty" - Signed limited edition art print
DIY Framing not For You? Here's some tips for having your art print framed professionally
Professional framers have the tools, materials, and expertise to properly frame and preserve your print. They can help you choose the right type of frame, matting, and glass to protect your print and enhance its appearance. They also can ensure a proper fit, and can mount the print if necessary.
But when choosing a framer, it's important to do some research and find a reputable framer who has experience. I've had plenty of bad experiences with frame shops in the past by not doing my homework prior. A couple great ways to find good frame shops is by asking for recommendations from other artists, local art galleries, or even look for online reviews and ratings.
As I said above, you can also check if your local art supply store or craft store offers framing services.
Once you decide where to have it done, it's important to have a clear idea of what you want, such as the type of frame, matting, overall size and layout of the finished product. A good framer will be able to show you examples of what they have and the types of glass they offer, so don't sweat it too much if you're unsure about something. You can bring your print to the framer and they can help you choose the materials that will best enhance and protect your print.
Keep in mind that professional framing can be expensive, but at the same time, it's worth the investment to ensure that your print is properly preserved and displayed exactly the way you hoped for.
"A Never-ending Cycle" - Framed canvas art print
Whichever route you go will be sure to enhance the artwork either way, so have fun with it!
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I'm Chuck Black, landscape and wildlife artist based in Southwest Montana.
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