How to Display Art Without a Frame

Written by Mark Rogers

We’ve all experienced taping posters, photos, and other artwork to our walls without bothering with a picture frame. As adults, this approach doesn’t always go with the polished décor in the rest of the home.

If you like the low-profile look of art and photos without a frame, you can still achieve a clean, professional aesthetic by properly mounting and displaying unframed art. Even without a frame, you can still include a border around the art for a simple “framed” look, or you can opt for completely borderless display.

With a Border

Using a mat allows you to “frame” your art or photo with a colorful border without using an actual picture frame. Mat boards come in a variety of colors and can be cut to custom sizes so you can have as much or as little boarder as you’d like.

When dealing with mat board for display you have two mounting options. The simplest approach is to mount your artwork or photo directly onto uncut mat board. The uncut mat gives you a relatively large working area, so you can center the artwork, or mount it off center to give your piece a more modern look with a heavier weighted side. You can also use the uncut mat as your base for a collage. These are just a few of the most popular mat board design styles.

For heavier art, you may want to secure the art to a mount board first. In this case, you can use a hinging technique to attach your cut mat board on top of the mounted artwork. Be aware, this technique could cover a thin area around the ages of your art and will sit slightly further off the wall than mounting directly onto the mat.

No Border

If you prefer a minimalist look with no frame or border, but want to give you art or photo more support, affix it directly to a mounting board. There are several mount boards to choose from, including some self-adhesive boards that make mounting even easier.

To achieve this effect, opt for a mount board that is cut exactly to the size you need, or mount your art on a larger board then carefully cut the board to size. Once done, your photo or artwork will have added support and stability without any framing or border.

Keep in mind, with this technique you will see the edges of the mount board if you decide not to frame your art. To make the edges of the board as inconspicuous as possible, choose a mount board color that best fits the art or your overall décor – Frame Destination carries mount boards and foam boards in white, pure white, and black.

Mastering the Techniques

There are several ways you can successfully and safely mount your art to either a mat board or a foam mount board. Understanding the different techniques will help you choose the right picture mounting technique for each project.

Common mounting techniques include:

  • Hinging
  • Photo corners (though these will be visible if you don’t cover the edges of your art or photo with a mat)
  • T-hinge
  • V-hinge
  • Dry picture mounting
  • Pressure-sensitive (adhesive) mounting
  • Wet mounting
  • Spray adhesive mounting

You can learn more about each type of mounting and see pictures of the techniques in Frame Destination’s picture mounting guide.

Choosing Your Supplies

Successfully displaying art without a frame requires the right supplies. Besides a mat board or a mounting board, you’ll need photo mounting supplies. This often includes:

  • Hinging tape
  • Hinging tissue
  • Photo strips
  • Photo corners
  • Adhesive tape
  • Adhesive glue
  • Adhesive spray

Many of these are interchangeable and based on preference.

If you want your art, photo, or document to last a long time, be careful to choose archival, museum, or conservation quality supplies. These supplies are acid free in order to protect your art or photo from yellowing and other degradation. To truly protect your art, use archival quality mount and mat boards as well as archival quality mounting supplies.

While using conservation or archival quality supplies will help protect your unframed art, your art will never be as well protect as it would be when framed using the same products as well as acid-free frame backing paper and UV-filter glazing. Without UV-filter glazing, your art will be exposed to harmful UV rays and may fade or experience dis-coloration over time.

Displaying Your Art

Now that your art is properly mounted and ready to be displayed without a frame, all that’s left to do is arrange your display and hang your photos or art for your own custom gallery look.

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