Fine Art Framing 101

Written by Mark Rogers

The world of fine art is something that can take a lifetime to truly understand. But what we do know is that it's important to protect and preserve this incredible work—and that's where framing comes in.

Framing can help you showcase your favorite pieces of art and make them last longer. It also adds a layer of protection between the art and the elements, so you don't have to worry about dust or moisture being too close to your precious creations.

But framing isn't just something for museums or other high-end art collectors. Any piece of art, from a sketch to a print, can be framed—and it's a great way to add personality and style to your home décor. And to help you better understand what framing is and how it works, we've put together this helpful guide. From display location to materials, we'll show you how to choose the right frame for your art and how to hang it so that it looks great.

Frames Are Meant to Complement the Art & Not Take Center Stage

The worst mistake you can make when framing any piece of art is to let the frame be the focal point. The frame should complement the art—not compete with it. If you go too far with your choice of materials and colors, it can take away from the beauty of the art itself. And that's the last thing you want to happen. So, before you start looking at frames and materials, think about the piece itself.

Is it modern, traditional or something in between? What colors are in the artwork? Do these colors match those of the frame?

If you're framing a modern piece, don't go with a traditional frame. If it's a traditional piece, don't go with a modern frame. The same goes for other features of the artwork such as size and shape. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the options available to you but remember that choosing the right frame is just as important as choosing an art piece itself.

If you're not sure what type of frame to choose, it can be helpful to look at photos of other people's framed pieces. This way you'll see what types of frames work well with certain art styles and sizes. Alternatively, you can always ask a professional for advice. Many art galleries have framing experts on staff who can help you find the perfect frame to showcase your art.

Understand The Significance of Display Location

Art is meant to be seen, and it's important to choose the right spot for your work. Your choice should be based on how much space you have available, as well as other factors like lighting and foot traffic flow. You might want to think about whether you'd like the piece to be seen from every angle, or if it should be placed in a more private area where only those who are invited can see it.

As for the lighting, you'll want to make sure that the space has enough natural light. If it doesn't, you may need to consider adding additional lamps or overhead art gallery lights. In addition, your art should be placed where it won't be damaged by things like moisture or airborne particulates like dust.

To Frame or Not to Frame?

Perhaps the biggest question that you'll have to ask yourself is whether or not you should frame your art. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to frame your art. This will protect it from damage and make it look much more professional.

However, if you're working with a piece that already has a nice frame or if you want the art to stand out on its own without distraction, then don't feel obligated to get one. Either way, framing is a personal preference and will depend on the piece you're working with. It's a good idea to ask yourself why you want to frame your art before making your decision.

Choosing Glass for Fine Art Framing

Glass is the most common type used in fine art framing. It's made of tempered or laminated glass, which can be very strong and durable. Most people use it to protect their artwork from dust and moisture, as well as sunlight (which can fade colors). Here are some of the factors to consider when choosing art glass for framing:

1. UV Filter

Many glass frames come with a UV filter, which helps protect your artwork from ultraviolet light. This is especially important if you live in a sunny area or have windows that face south-facing walls. But even if you don't, it can still be worth getting a frame with a UV filter because it will block out some of the harmful rays that are emitted by fluorescent lights and computer screens.

2. Glass Weight

The weight of the glass is another important factor to consider. If you're framing a large piece of artwork, it's best to get a frame made from glass that's at least 1/8 of an inch thick. This will ensure that your frame doesn't bend under the weight of your art and cause damage to either one.

3. Anti-glare

The anti-glare coating on the glass makes it easier to view your art in various types of lighting. If you're planning on hanging your piece in a room that gets a lot of sunlight, look for frames with an anti-reflective coating so that it won't be too hard to see what's inside.


The type of paper that you choose for your frame can make a big difference in how it looks. You have to consider the thickness, texture and color of the paper when choosing which one to use. Standard photo paper is usually best suited for framing photos; however, if you're looking for something more durable or decorative, you may want to try using canvas or linen instead.

Moreover, matting the paper is also an important part of framing a piece of art. You can use any type of matting that you like, but it's best to avoid using anything too thick or flimsy because it will make your frame look cheap and unprofessional.


The backing material is the portion of your frame that supports the art itself. It's important to choose a material that will not only provide support for your picture but also complement its colors and style. You can use any type of backing you like, such as foamcore, plywood or even corkboard; however, these materials tend to be more expensive than other types of backing because they're made from more durable materials.


The canvas is the artwork in most cases of fine art and generally, is sturdy enough to not require backing like a mat. However, if you do decide to use backing, it's important to choose a sturdy material. You can see our complete guide to framing canvases for more information.

Non-Traditional Frame

The non-traditional frame is a great option if you want to show off the art while still making it easy to hang on your walls. There are many different types of non-traditional frames, such as shadowbox frames and picture mats; however, they all have one thing in common: They allow the picture itself to be the star of the show. The non-traditional frame can be used to create a display that's meant to be seen and not just hung on the wall— it can be used to make a statement about the art, or it can simply be a way to showcase your favorite painting.

Frame Cost

The cost of a frame will depend on the type of frame that you choose. For example, a basic wood picture frame is usually cheaper than a custom-made metal shadowbox frame. However, if you're looking for something more unique, then it's worth investing in something that's made specifically for your artwork or photographs.