Choosing the Right Framing Glass for Clarity and Protection

When you’re framing a piece of art or a photo and it comes time to choose which type of glass you’d like, how do you decide? Glazing, or frame glass, is an often overlooked step in the framing process because most people focus on the mat and frame. Choosing the right glazing can make a dramatic impact on how your art is displayed and preserved.

Glass, as opposed to plastic or acrylic, has the benefit of being scratch-resistant although it’s heavier and more fragile. There are different finishes on framing glass that result in different clarity and visibility levels. The purpose of glazing is to protect the art from humidity, heat, and damage. Glazing materials also prevent abrasion from dust and protect art from both artificial and UV light.

The least visible glazing best displays the artwork, with the goal to achieve “invisibility” with the glass. Glazing with additional protective coatings help preserve the art but result in a less clear view. In this post, we’ll cover plain glass, UV protected glass and non-reflective glass and the pros and cons of each.

Plain glass

Plain glass, which is the cheapest option for framing, is usually between 2mm and 3mm in thickness. It’s sometimes called standard, float glass, or basic glass and you can find it in ready-made frames. This is the lowest grade offered and suitable for many types of framing work. Frame Destination’s clear glass is high-quality, 2mm thick clear glass.

Pros: Inexpensive, protects against dust, can see the art clearly
Cons: Reflects overhead lights and sunlight, which can obscure your view of the picture

Non-Reflective Glass (NRG) and Anti-Reflective Glass

On this type of glass, there is usually an anti-reflection coating that disperses light in order to reduce reflections, enhancing visibility of the photo or art. NRG may be acid etched to give it a non-glare on one or both sides. It may also be known as anti-glare or non-glare glass. The way the glass surface is treated makes it appear blurred from certain angles, which can negatively affect the display of 3D or layered art. One problem with most framing glass is that has a green tint from iron in the glass. The Anti-Reflective Glass from Frame Destination is Water White, which means it has no green tint or optical distortions. Its anti-reflective coating reduces reflections while revealing the true colors and textures of the art.

Pros: Does not reflect light, can make your piece look better, can be used on oil paintings
Cons: More expensive, some basic low-grade types can dull colors, make the art unclear

Ultraviolet (UV)-protected glass

UV can damage your art as it’s transmitted through the glass, to guard against this some glass coating reflects or absorbs the UV spectrum. Some use organic UV absorbers, which are added to a silica-based coating to create an absorbing layer on one side of the glass. Another option is interference UV blockers that are built into thin film stacks and maximize the UV reflection. Some manufacturers add a colorant to the coating to make the glazing neutral in color. Frame Destination’s UV-Filter Glass, protects art above from UV rays above 90%, has a hard coating, and is scratch-resistant.

Pros: Nearly completely UV absorbent, protects against fading
Cons: Chemically-deposited UV absorbers make a less scratch-resistant surface, may increase absorption of visible light

Anti-Reflective and UV-protected glass

This type of glass is nearly invisible, anti-reflective with conservation-grade UV protection. For art and photographs that are particularly valuable, this is the best option. It not only blocks up to 90% of indoor and outdoor light, but it helps maintain the clarity and brightness of the art. FrameDestination’s UV Anti-Reflective Glass Water White-ArtGlass has no green tint or optical distortions and has an anti-reflective coating. It’s practically invisible and blocks more than 90% of harmful indoor and outdoor UV rays to help protect the art from fading and discoloration, yellowing, and bleaching over time.

Pros: Anti-reflective, UV-protection, nearly invisible
Cons: More expensive

Preservation framing is an important process to maintain the life of your photos and artwork. Choosing the right glazing is a critical step and framing professionals can advise you on which type to choose. Ultimately, though, it is up to you to protect your art and make sure it doesn’t become discolored or faded over time. At Frame Destination, we have the perfect options for all of your framing needs with a range of glazing options for all projects. Educate yourself on quality framing materials, obtain advice and help from a professional framer, and keep your art away from heat and sunlight so you can maintain it for as long as possible.

About the author

author

Mark Rogers is an amateur photographer and the founder of Frame Destination, Inc. In 2004 Mark realized the framing industry was not keeping up with the evolution of photography via new digital technology and started Frame Destination in his garage. Now his company has thousands of do-it-yourself framing customers across the US that it helps with its 11,000 square feet production facility in Dallas, TX.

3 thoughts on “Choosing the Right Framing Glass for Clarity and Protection”

  • Peter

    Choosing the right glass for your frames is as important as displaying your art. Great post Mark. Never thought of Ultra Violet protected picture frames before for my picture frames and artwork. Looking forward to it.

    Reply
  • Cloe Martin

    Choosing the right glass for your frames is as important as displaying your art. Great post Mark. Never thought of Ultra Violet protected picture frames before for my picture frames and artwork. Looking forward to it.

    Reply
  • Maggie

    Wow, I didn't even know that there are different types of glass available for frames in the first place! Right now, I'm really intrigued by the non-reflective glass. That's such a great way to ensure that everyone can see the picture, no matter what. Plus, I don't mind paying extra money to ensure that my pictures can be properly appreciated. I'll be sure to look into them as soon as I have a chance.

    Reply

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