Buying Picture Frames Online: 7 Things You Should Consider

Written by Mark Rogers

There’s nothing quite like a beautiful piece of art or a precious photograph. But caring for and displaying these priceless keepsakes can be a challenge. The right picture frame can protect and accentuate its contents, making sure that your picture(s) and/or artwork gets the recognition it deserves.

Yet, with all of the options available to us, buying picture frames online can be a daunting task. This guide will walk you through the top seven considerations when buying picture frames online, ensuring you’ll find the perfect match for your photograph or art at a great value.

Let’s dive in…

1. What are you Framing?

This simple question is often the best place to start your journey. Are you framing something precious or irreplaceable?  If so, it’s important to choose a quality frame that will help to preserve the art or photograph for years to come. Cheap store-bought frames can work as a temporary solution for those less important items (such as low-cost digital prints that can be cut to size), but if you’re framing something with sentimental or real value, it’s worth choosing a high quality custom framing option.

Another aspect to consider is the thickness of the item you’re framing. Is it a flat piece of art, or are you framing something thicker like a canvas or a sports jersey? Thicker items are often better suited for a canvas floater frame or shadow box frame that fits the dimensions of your item.

If you are framing a canvas and need to know which specific frames fit your sized canvas, you can find a list of options in this article on how to frame canvas prints. For something unique such as metal prints either with or without a hanging block, use this step-by-step guide to explore your options. 

2. What Style of Frame Will Best Suit your Picture?

It’s important to pick a style of frame that will suit both the picture that sits inside it, and the space that it will be displayed in. Pay close attention to the colors and detail. For example, look at the colors that feature in the artwork and choose a frame with a palate that complements or highlights the imagery.

The majority of quality frames will be made from wood or metal. Wooden frames are more traditional in appearance, and can add an elegant flair to your work. That said, solid wood frames can be quite heavy, so make sure your wall and hooks are strong enough to support them if you choose this option.

Metal frames, on the other hand, are mostly made from aluminum. This makes them both durable and lightweight, while giving off a more modern and minimalistic aura. Both wooden and metal frames come in a wide variety of designs and colors that make it easy to find the perfect style.

3. What Size is It?

Size might not always matter, but when it comes to buying picture frames online it certainly plays a role. It’s important that you accurately measure the minimum and maximum dimensions of your item so that your framer can accommodate the piece, or so that you select a pre-made frame that best suits your needs.

In cases where you may be looking to frame small pieces of art or photos, you may find that they are difficult to frame by themselves. However, adding matting is a great way to circumvent this issue as well as add depth, character and a striking appeal to the piece. If you do choose to add a mat board, we recommend allowing a quarter of an inch overlap for your artwork or photo. This will prevent exposure to the backing or fall out of the matting.

Discover other tips on measuring for a matted frame here.

Another thing to ponder is the orientation of your art; will it be displayed in a landscape or portrait layout? Once you’ve decided this, you can get down to the important task of measuring. Start by measuring the height and the width of your artwork, making sure not to mix up units of measurement. If you’re framing a thicker item, you’ll need to measure the depth too.

4. What Type of Cover or Glazing is Best: Glass or Acrylic?

The glazing is the piece of the frame which covers” your art or photo yet allows you to see what’s in your frame. It’s important to choose the right material so that it will protect and show off your artwork well into the future.

Covers are usually made from either glass or acrylic. Glass is the more traditional option. It can provide an excellent clear finish and protects your artwork well, but it’s prone to breaking easily, so it needs to be handled and packaged with care.

Acrylic, on the other hand, is similar in appearance to glass, yet is lightweight, highly durable, and less prone to shattering.

The final consideration is the “finish” of your cover. There are two more common options, either a clear finish, which is, as the name suggests, a crystal-clear surface for your artwork, or a non-glare finish, which gently diffuses any extreme glare from lights and softens the color of your artwork slightly.

In addition, you may choose an anti-reflective finish which is a coating that eliminates glare well without the drawback of non-glare finishes. For glass, the water white treatment reduces the iron content of the glass so the glass does not have a green tint.

5. Which Backing is Best?

Even though the backing of your framed art or photograph normally won’t be on display, it’s still an important component of the framing process.

There are generally three types of backing to choose from:

  • Foam Board
  • Cardboard
  • Acrylic or Glass

Foam Board, (also known as foamcore, Gatorfoam®, or mount board), is the safest and most commonly used type of backing. It is popular because it is lightweight and easy to cut and manipulate to fit virtually any size of frame. Foam Board is also sold in acid-free varieties, which is important in protecting your artwork against corrosion.

Cardboard is lightweight and strong, but some types of cardboard can be highly acidic. If you’re framing a precious piece of art or a priceless photograph, then you may want to avoid frames with cardboard backing altogether.

Acrylic or glass is also sometimes used, although this tends to be in double-sided frames where the front and back can be interchangeable, and when you are "floating" a piece of art and want the wall behind it visible. Please note,  in certain environmental conditions, this method could result in the art sticking to the glass over time so use it with non-priceless art only.

6. Where to Buy Your Picture Frame Online

Some people choose to buy their picture frames from local framers in their area. This option is a great one when it works, but it can also often be costly, time-consuming and inconvenient. Especially if your local shop is not close to you or back logged with other orders.

Buying picture frames online can be a more affordable and more convenient option, while opening up the possibilities with a virtually endless selection of styles to choose from.

For example, at FrameDestination.com, you can find all the services you would at your local framing store, such as custom measurements of your frame and mat board, as well as a large variety of materials and styles to choose from. Plus they offer multiple styles of picture frame glass unlike many other online retailers.

7. How to Hang your Picture

Now that you have your beautifully framed artwork or photograph, it’s time to hang it. Make sure to use strong and durable hardware that won’t accidentally slip or fail over time. Frame Destination offers free professional grade hanging hardware complete with wall bumpers with any complete picture frame kit.

It’s also a good idea to get someone to help you when choosing where to place your picture, to make sure it’s straight and in line with any other items on your walls. You can also use a hanging tool like this one.

Ready to Find the Perfect Frame for your Picture?

Buying picture frames online has never been easier. If you keep these 7 considerations in mind when purchasing your next frame, the process should be quick, easy and hassle-free, giving you beautiful results that will last for years to come.

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