Quick Fixes for Broken Picture Frames

Written by Mark Rogers

Nothing makes a home more sophisticated and stylish than framing your paintings, photographs, and posters. You’ve finally graduated from hanging pictures up with a thumb tack, college-dorm style, and spent time and money to make them look nice. However, now that you’ve spent all that time and money on framing that photo, it suddenly breaks! Does this mean even more money down the drain?

Before heading back to the frame store, check out how to fix a broken picture frame yourself, and learn when it’s time to give up and go purchase a new one:

Bent Wooden Picture Frames

The materials needed to repair a broken picture frame include:

  • 3/4-inch piece of plywood - larger than the frame
  • Absorbent rags
  • Eight C-clamps

First, remove the picture and the glass from the wooden frame—you definitely don’t want to buy new glass (or pay for a doctor’s visit) when you’re trying to save money by fixing your own frame. Take your 3/4-inch piece of plywood and lay the frame face-down.

Next, cover all sides of the frame with damp absorbent rags. Using your eight C-clamps, clamp the frame to the plywood, making sure they are spaced out evenly. Don’t try to clamp all portions of the frame down so they’re flush just yet, you don’t want it to break. Just make sure they are tight enough to hold down the frame securely. Remoisten the rags as necessary every day, as well as tightening each clamp, little by little.

Once the frame is flat, remove the rags, but leave the frame clamped for at least one week so can dry out.

Metal Picture Frames

To successfully fix a bent metal frame, you will need:

  • 3/4-inch piece of plywood
  • C-clamps, a screwdriver
  • New L-brackets

Fixing a metal frame isn’t quite as time-consuming as a wooden one, though the steps are slightly similar.

Be sure to remove the glass and the photo from the frame before beginning. Lay the frame flat on the edge of a table, making sure the bent part is hanging over the table’s end. Take the 3/4-inch piece of plywood and lay the plywood on top of the portion of the frame that is flush with the table.

Next, take your C-clamps and clamp the plywood to the table. It’s important to not tighten the clamps too much or you may flatten the metal. Carefully take the portion of the frame that is bent (which should still be hanging over the edge of the table) and slowly bend it straight. If there are multiple sections that are bent, rearrange the clamps and work on each section until they’re flush. If there are bent L-brackets, unscrew them from the frame and replace.

Loose Corner Joints

Loose corner joints are another common issue found in broken and bent frames, which are caused by humidity and constantly changing temperatures in homes.

For this DIY project you’ll need:

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • A flat surface
  • Wood putty
  • Sandpaper
  • Small clamp and wood glue.

Remove the nails from the loose joints with your needle-nose pliers by carefully pulling the joint apart, leaving enough space for you to clutch the nail with the pliers. Once you’ve removed the nails, take your sandpaper and scrape away the old glue that is still lingering in the joints, and then fill any old nail holes with wood putty.

After the putty is dry, pick up your sandpaper again and smooth out the surfaces. On the inner edge of each joint, spread a thin line of wood glue, press together, and then clamp until the glue dries. With your finger, check to make sure the glue is completely dry before reinserting the glass and your art.

When is it Time to Get a New Frame?

Sometimes, no matter how handy you may be, it’s time to throw in the towel. If your wooden frame is completely warped, even after you’ve tried the steps listed above, it’s definitely time to purchase a new frame. Additionally, if the nails split the wood when you’re attempting to fix the frame hangers, it’s time to head to your local frame shop.

For metal frames—especially the “cheaper” metal frames—when you try to bend them yourself, they might crack in the process. If there’s a crack in the metal frame, it’s time to purchase a new one. Cracked metal frames cannot be repaired, and you owe it to your painting or photograph, and yourself, to purchase a new one. As for your old frame, perhaps you can use it for organizing earrings and other jewelry, or a magazine holder.

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