Picture Frame Dimensions Explained

Written by Mark Rogers

At Frame Destination, we get a lot of questions about picture frame sizes:

“What are standard picture frame sizes?”

“What is the picture frame size actually referring to?”

“How do I know my artwork will fit?”

"How much bigger should a frame be than the picture?"

And, of course, “Why are you talking about rabbits?” (They’re called rabbets!)

You would think that explaining picture frame dimensions would be a simple topic. Not so! To best help our customers find the right size picture frame for their artwork, we are here to fully clarify how a picture frame is measured and what you should look for when shopping for a picture frame.

Measuring The Artwork Dimensions

Before we get to the frame itself, there are a few other components that must be measured. The artwork is the focal point of the framed piece - and the artwork is what you base the frame size on — so you must first measure the correct part of the piece to be framed.

  • The artwork size is the size of your image, not necessarily the paper on which the artwork is printed.

What size picture fits in a 8x10 frame?

Example: An 8×10-inch print from a photo lab will usually be 8×10 inches, but you might print an 8×10 at home on 8.5×11 paper. Therefore, the correct size is 8x10, not 8.5x11. /

 

1-ArtworkAndPaper

Dimensions Change With Mat Board

If you choose to include a photo mat in the framed piece, this can complicate the frame size a little. The mat board surrounds the artwork and adds extra space, so the frame must accommodate the size mat board you choose.

  • This mat exact opening is the dimension of the hole cut in the mat.

Example: A typical store-bought, ready-made frame for an 8×10 photo will have a mat exact opening of 7.5×9.5. This size mat board will overlap the image by ¼ inch on all four sides, allowing it to hold the image down. Mat boards cut by custom frame shops will usually cut the mat with an opening of 7.75×9.75 so there is less masking of the image.

If you’re customizing a frame size from our website, you can select the border size of the mat, and the website will calculate the frame for you.

 

2-ArtworkAndMatBoard

 

  • The mat external size is the perimeter, or outside dimension, of the mat board. The mat external size should match the dimensions of the glazing.

Example: A mat board used to mount an 8×10 image in frame that is 11×14 will have a mat external size of exactly 11×14 plus or minus 1/16 inch.

The Frame: What Size is 11x14?

This is where it gets a little tricky. For example, an 11x14  (which refers to the inside perimeter of the frame) used to frame an 8x10 image could be referred to as both an 8x10 frame or an 11x14, assuming the complete frame package contains the appropriate mat board. However, a frame that is 11×14  with no mat will always be an 11×14 frame.

So is the frame dimension 11×14 or 8×10? The answer is neither.

If the frame size—not the mat opening—says 11×14, it is referring to the inside dimension. However, the frame will be cut slightly larger (typically 1/8 inch). This extra space allows room for the glazing, mounting board and mat board to fit without binding. It also allows for up to 1/16 inch error on the mat and glazing dimension as well as for expansion and contraction due to temperature changes.

When you’re purchasing a frame from Frame Destination, be it one of our largest or smallest like a  5x7, the size frame you select depends on whether or not you are including mat board. If you are including mat board, the frame size will be larger than the artwork size. If you are not including mat board, the frame size will match the artwork.

 

3-WithAndWithoutMatBoard

 

  • The outside frame size is the very outside of the frame, or the frame’s outside perimeter. It is seldom referred to unless you are concerned about placing the frame in a limited space.

 

5-OutsideFrameSize

 

Example: Frames that are 11×14 might actually have an external dimension of 14×17 if the moulding is 1 and ½ inches wide.

  • The rabbet depth tells you how much room you have inside the frame for mat board, glazing, and mount board. Some frame mouldings are not deep enough to allow a double mat or an 8-ply mat to fit.

 

6-RabbetDepth

 

At Frame Destination, most of our frames are deep enough for double mats. Any frame with a 3/8 inch rabbet can handle a double mat.

Even though framing math can seem fuzzy, we hope you can see a bit of method in the madness. And if not, no worries, because Frame Destination is here to help you figure out even the trickiest framing so you can show off your work in the best way possible.

Last Updated November 2, 2020

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85 thoughts on “Picture Frame Dimensions Explained”

  • Richard Cohen

    Hi. I understand that for Giclee style prints using a high-end ink-jet system, one should use a matboard to separate the art from the glass. In the case of a litho printed poster does one need to do that? And what about digital printing, I am not sure what that means but presume its a kind of laser process. Please advise. Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Heather

      Hi! I'm sorry, we do not offer any printing and do not handle any artwork ourselves. I would recommend researching this further or checking with a printing company.
      Thanks and have a great evening!

      Reply
  • Amy

    What size frame would I need for this horizontal image? Print dimensions: 15.5"x18", Image dimensions: 12"x16", white border. There is signatures on the white border, so I do not want to cover that part up. What do you suggest?

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Amy - You will need to measure the exact opening that you want showing, and then decide on your borders. Our website can actually help you calculate this on our mat page.

      Reply
  • sarah

    hi!


    I have a 6 1/2 x 13 3/4 photo I am looking for a frame to fit this photo or a size of mat to a 7 1/2x 16 1/2 frame that it is displayed in already.

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Sarah, You are able to customize any of our frames or mats to these dimensions on our site. Customer service is also available to help with any questions on the website.

      Reply
  • Fred

    I have a 22 x 28 inside dimensions what would be the outside dimensions with a inch and a half by half inch by three-quarter inch quarter in stock

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Fred - I'm sorry, I'm not sure what your question is. Our customer service team is available to take all questions, Mon - Fri, 8 am to 5 pm CST.

      Reply
  • Sonia

    Hi I gave a print that measures 9x12, I’m looking for a frame with mat for it. What size of frame would I need. One more question, the print is very colorful, what color of frame do you suggest?

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Sonia - We custom cut to any dimension that you'd like, so it's really up to your aesthetic. The standard size is most likely 11x14 or 16x20 if you're attempting to purchase off the shelf. As far as color goes, again, it's up to what you want to see. Typically, if the print is extremely colorful you'll want to do a black or white frame so as not to distract from the art.

      Reply
  • Shannon

    Hi, I have a piece of artwork that is 11x15 inches and goes from border to border. I do not want to include a Mat Boarder on the inside of the frame.
    What size frame do you recommend I buy to ensure that part of the photo doesn't get cut out.

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Shannon - It will depend on how big the lip of the frame you've chosen is. If it's 1/4", it'll cover over 1/4" on all sides if you order an 11" x 15". You would need 11 1/2" x 15 1/2" for the full image to show in that example.

      Reply
  • Manny

    Hi, I have an art piece with matting that measures 13 × 15 inches. I'm trying to custom make my frame with a piece of wood that is 1 1/2 inch wide that I routed with a 1/2 inch deep groove and a rabbet 1/4 inch. I am very confused how to exactly measure after I mitered one end. I keep cutting to large of a frame. Can you help me?

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Manny - The inside edge of the moulding (where the mat is going to fit) should measure to these dimensions + about 1/8" to give the mat space to lay flat in the frame. So you would have two sides at 13 1/8", and two at 15 1/8" on the inside edges.

      Reply
  • Vernell Brown

    I have a 60x120cm picture but I need a frame any help

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Vernell - We size our frames to the inside dimensions, so if you're not wanting a mat with the artwork, you would need this exact size of frame. If you're going to use our site, you would just need to convert the cm to inches to find your size. A quick internet search will help with the conversion.

      Reply
  • Cassie

    Hello - I need help with frame sizes. I bought a 5 piece wall art and here are the sizes: (2) 40cmx30cm, (2) 60cmx30cm and (1) 80cmx30cm. I cannot find the correct sizes.

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Cassie - Frames are sized by the inside, so you'll need frames the same size as your art. However, most frames are sized in inches, so you'll need to figure your measurements in inches and then get as close as you'd like. It may not be an exact match.

      Reply
  • Bill Lerand

    I have a frame that measures 35.5" X 33.5" What size picture would work?

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Bill - Are those the measurements of where the contents go? Or the front of the frame? If it's where your contents go, and you're not utilizing a mat, you would print the picture to the same dimensions as the frame.

      Reply

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