Top 8 Picture Framing Problems — Solved

Written by Mark Rogers

Decorating your home with framed artwork and photographs is something that most of us have done. The artwork may have been framed at a custom shop or as a DIY project at home, but either way, those who take care of the final touches have probably encountered a problem that thousands have seen — and solved — before.

Problem #1: I don’t know what size frame to get.

One of the most common questions about framing involve frame sizes, along with mat board sizes. The print, photo or other type of artwork will determine the size of the frame, of course, but so does the addition (or lack of) mat board. When ordering a custom frame from Frame Destination, you can enter the size of your artwork to see what frame sizes are available. For more information about sizes, read our Guide to Frame and Mat Dimensions for Common Print Sizes, which offers several suggestions, but you can also visit a local frame shop.

Problem #2: The print slides around in the frame.

If you’ve never been taught otherwise, you may have simply sandwiched your print between the backing board and mat board and then placed it in the frame, believing that closing the frame would keep everything in place. However, that is often not enough to ensure that the print stays put.

Mounting a print to the backing board is what keeps everything together. There are many mounting methods to try, ranging from the basic — which are sometimes the non-conservation, permanent methods — to the advanced. Make sure that you choose an archival method if framing irreplaceable prints or other works of art.

Problem #3: There are smudges on the mat board.

Many professional framers wear cotton gloves to protect the framing materials while they are framing. At the very least, wash your hands thoroughly before beginning. Even if you wash your hands before you start handling the mat board, you may see a smudge or two. Regular pencil erasers and cheap rubber erasers will leave marks, and any old household cleaner may damage the mat board.

Try to gently erase the mark with a kneaded eraser or white vinyl eraser. Other cleaners that may work include document cleaner, isopropyl alcohol (sprayed gently or with a cotton ball), or specific stain removers such as K2R.

Problem #4: How do I hang a picture frame?

You may encounter a few problems when hanging a picture frame: where to hang it, how to hang it, and what materials to use. When it comes to placement on the wall, there is no right or wrong area — but there are certainly tips that determine how aesthetically pleasing it is. Our guide to hanging picture frames offers guidelines for placement, such as tracing the framed piece onto a piece of paper and taping it to the wall.

When it comes to actually hanging it, there are a few ways to do it: you could avoid making holes in your wall by hanging frames without nails or you can make a commitment to your decor with your trusty hammer. Whichever you choose, the Frame Destination Picture Hanger makes easy work of measuring.

Problem #5: The frame is always crooked.

Crooked picture frames are a common problem, but it’s one that’s easily fixed. A crooked frame is a sign that only one nail has been used to hang it, so try removing the center nail and instead use two, spaced away from each other.

Make sure that you use wall bumpers, included with each of our hanging kits, on each corner of the backside of the picture frame. While making sure the frame doesn’t bang against the wall, the wall bumpers also prevent the frame from sliding around.

where to place wall bumpers on a picture frame

Problem #6: The frame tilts away from the wall.

When a frame seems to be tipping forward at the top, it may be one of two culprits. The hooks to which the wire is attached may be too low on the backside of the frame. You should attach the hooks one third of the height of the frame from the top.

If that doesn’t help, the wire may also be too long for the frame. Try winding the wire tighter around the hooks or cut the wire shorter so that there is just some — but not too much — slack.

where to install wire and nails on picture frame

Problem #7: The glass seems a little bit loose in the frame.

You may see this with cheap, off-the-shelf frames — the rabbet is simply too large for the materials inside. A proper framing package will contain backing board, the print, and the mat board (if used). When the rabbet is too large for the contents, picture frame spacers, which are generally used to keep the print away from the glazing, can be used to ensure that the contents can fill the space.

Problem #8: There’s dust or other specks under the glazing.

Over time, you may see specks of dust or other unidentifiable “stuff” inside your frame. If your frame does not have any backing paper, you may have found the problem. Backing paper is not only an aesthetic addition to a frame, it also helps protect your art and keep debris out.

However, if you see dust right after you’ve put together your frame, don’t fret! Even professional picture framers will get dust inside a picture frame after they’ve spent time putting it all together. The best solution is to simply take the components apart, clean it again, and put it back together.

Following these tips should lead to a beautiful framed piece of decor or art, but if you are encountering other challenges, we’d would be happy to help. Simply leave a comment below or visit our contact us page for other methods to send your questions to us including email, phone or our live chat support during business hours.

Bonus Problem: My art is buckling in the frame.

With the glass and air quality seemingly working against your creation, what’s an artist to do? Learn why art buckles and how to prevent it with these tips: How to Prevent Art from Buckling in a Frame.

Last Updated November 2, 2020

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5 thoughts on “Top 8 Picture Framing Problems — Solved”

  • James Fields

    Thank you for all the good information you have provided me, and the good looking frames you have sent me. You have the best looking frmes compared to all of the frame venders I have used. Most of my frame purchases lately have been Photo downloads to the frames. I can not tell from your web site if you offer this service. Thank You James Fields

  • Stan

    This is an informative article, but do you ever proofread your blogs? This one has missing words, incorrect words, and a few other glitches that make things a bit obfuscated.

    • Joely Rogers

      Thank you, Stan, for pointing that out. We are going to address the confusion right away and will be more diligent going forward in our proofing.

  • David Ackerman

    Despite how I attach the picture (photo grade paper with T or V hinging) to the back of the mat board, in time, the picture becomes wavy which is visible and annoying (to me) in glancing light. That is a bigger problem for me than any of the 8 problems that you list. Please consider addressing this one some time. Thank you!

    • Bruce Horwitz

      David Ackerman - "when I was young" we always dry-mounted our prints to the backer...but that was when I worked for my college yearbook and we could afford a dry-mount press. Doing it with a regular iron was difficult. In any case, 3M sells "dry mounting" paper [3M 568 Positionable Mounting Adhesive] - it's essentially a sheet of tissue with encapsulated adhesive. You first attach it to the back of your image and then attach the image to the backer. When you put it on the backer you just touch it down lightly, check the alignment under the mat, and then burnish it in place. If the alignment is not perfect you can easily pick and it and move it before the burnishing step.

  • Angela Waterford
    Angela Waterford August 19, 2019 at 7:29 am

    It's a good thing to know that there are ways for me to determine the size of the picture frame that I'll need for my sister's wedding photo. I think it's fairly large, so I might hire someone to do a custom frame of that. On top of that, she wants a really unique look to it, so getting it custom-made would really help a lot.

  • Pam Schumacher

    I have a question regarding using a mat or not.... my framer says if you've taken a good picture you don't need a mat! However, all fine prints seem to have a mat, which I prefer. Your suggestion?

    One other question, how much of the mat should show in the frame? I'm not concerned about the final size of the picture on the wall, just a guideline on how much of the mat should show for some common sizes. I have a 24"x36" with just a frame and I'm having it redone with a mat and paying for another frame. I took his advice and I don't care for it without a mat.

    Thank you!!

    • Laura W

      Hi Pam - It's really up to you and what you like to see in your space. Most prints that need to be conserved are going to have a mat for functional purposes - to keep them from touching the glazing. The amount of mat shown also depends on the size of your frame. With a larger 24x36 frame, you would probably want a 2 to 3 inch mat border, but again, depends on what you want to see.

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