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 some of the options available for framing glass and their pros and cons.
Plain glass, which is the least expensive 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: Slight green tint, reflects overhead lights and sunlight, which can obscure your view of the picture
Non-glare glass has an etched surface that helps to disperse the light and reduce reflections. The etched sureface has the drawback of slightly reducing the sharpness. For instance, it imight be more difficult to make out individual hairs on a portrait of a person for example. For this type of glass to work properly it has to be close to the artwork so it can’t be used in picture frames with large spacers or in a shadow box frame.
Pros: Least expensive reflection control glass
Cons: Slight loss of sharpness, cant be used in a shadow box frame
This type of glass has a special type of coating to greatly reduce reflections very similar to that used on glasses and sun-glasses you wear.
Pros: Virtually eliminates reflections
Cons: Most expensive type of refection control glass
Water White Glass
Standard glass is composed of iron which gives the glass a slight green tint. Normally it is not real noticable, however if you take a piece of framing glass and lay it over half of a blank sheet of white printer paper you will notice the section under the glass has a slight green tint and is not as bright as the paper not covered by the glass.
Pros: Increased visibility of the artwork, virtually no color distortion of the artwork
Cons: Increased cost
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.This coating can will block anywhere from 92% to 99% of the UV radiation. The drawback to these filters is they create a slight warming effect on the color of artwork. This will be especially true with coatings that block 98% or more UV radiation. .
Pros: Protects against fading
Cons: Increased cost, slight warming effect of the artwork’s color
If you primary goal is protection then you want to ensure you go with a glass that includes 98% or 99% UV-filter such as Frame Destination’s UV-Filter ArtGlass 99.
When your primary goal is clarity you will want to go with a glass that is both water white and includes an anti-reflective coating such as as Frame Destination’s Anti-Reflective Water White ArtGlass AR70.
When you want the best of both clarity and protection, then you can look for a water white glass with both the UV filter and anti-refleciotn coating such as our UV Anti-Reflective Water-White ArtGlass AR92.
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.