How to Get Rid of Reflections on Picture Frames

Written by Mark Rogers

You’ve matted and mounted your artwork, positioned it on the wall and finally hung it proudly. But when you step back to take a look at your handiwork, you notice something: your reflection. It’s a common problem in framing and hanging artwork, diploma frames or photos, one that the museums have overcome thanks to precise lighting and high-quality glazing. We’ll look at three ways to reduce reflections on framed artwork — from the simplest option to the go-to solutions used by the pros and home decorators.

Option 1: Eliminate the Glazing

The simplest option to eliminate reflection is to avoid the use of any glass or acrylic glazing in picture frames. The obvious advantage of this is a lower overall cost, as you are omitting a major part of the framing package. And with no glazing, there is little chance of reflection.

Unfortunately, this option has serious drawbacks. Because the artwork has no defense against curious fingers and atmospheric pollutants, dust and grime gather on the artwork itself, which can prove more difficult or impossible to clean. You also have less protection from UV radiation, which can more quickly fade and damage artwork.

Additionally, if the artwork itself is glossy, you still may see reflections with improper lighting.

Option 2: Adjust the Lighting

Assuming you are going to use glazing, the second least expensive option is to combine regular glazing — i.e. glazing without any built-in reflection control — with proper lighting. Gallery lighting is accomplished by positioning lighting directly above the artwork and fairly close to it, forcing the light to hit the artwork at a steep angle. This angle allows you to only see reflections if you are looking up toward the art from beneath it. Your options here are to purchase picture frame lights, which can be attached to the wall behind picture frames. Or if you have appropriate lighting already in place, you can simply adjust where you hang the frames.

Option 3: Choose Non-Glare Glazing

Not many people will undergo lighting renovation just to avoid reflections in picture frames. An alternative is to purchase specialty non-glare acrylic or anti-reflective glass glazing. The non-glare acrylic glazing features an etched surface on one side that helps reduce the reflection. However, the etching results in a loss of sharpness that is proportional to the distance between the artwork and the glazing; it is most apparent when using double mats. Because of this loss of sharpness, non-glare acrylic glazing is not suitable for shadow box framing.

Anti-reflective glass, on the other hand, uses a special type of coating to reduce reflection — but without the loss of sharpness seen in non-glare acrylic. ArtGlass Water White Anti-Reflective glass provides the full protection of glazing while making the glazing look practically invisible. Because it combines the best of both worlds — no reflection and superior clarity — it has a price point to match.

How you choose to reduce the glare on your picture frames depends on your budget and the importance of protecting the artwork itself. Whichever way you choose, you won’t have to worry about all that glare. 

Last Updated November 2, 2020

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6 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Reflections on Picture Frames”

  • Lynne Lawson

    I have a 3d print that needs framing. What would be best to or some kind of acrylic? I don't want to lose the 3d effect and don't know if glass will work. Or maybe I should just frame it and forget the glass? Thanks for any help.

    • Mark Rogers

      I am not aware of any significant optical differences between glass and acrylic that might make one better or worse for 3d images. My guess is the first question would be glazing or not. You might just try to borrow or purchase an inexpensive piece of glass and try it yourself. I have never framed a 3D image before. You might also try calling some local custom framers and ask if they know. Sorry I could not be more help.

      • David Randall

        I have been a professional framer for over 50 years. Museum, Water White and Artglass are trade names from different companies all with anti reflective coatings and different UV filtering on some, by far the best option. They work very well for shadow boxes, essentially what you will be doing. Non glare would be a bad choice. It's basically an etched glass and therefore somewhat blurry. Any experienced framer will be familiar with them.

  • mickmmm

    I guess i'm a little off topic here, but this is my situation. I made a window on my letter box, perhaps 10cm X5 cm so cut a hole in the letterbox and sealed a piece of ordinary glass on it.
    Now it seems like it has been a total waste of time and energy as during day light I can not see anything inside it but the reflected outside environment! No matter how I try to cover around it, there is no improvement! I was wondering if I could make some kind of paint on substance to help. I can see there are some sprays that may help but would this work?

    • Laura W

      Honestly, I'm not sure - maybe someone else on here might be able to help?

    • M

      Try to put a piece of clear contact paper, inside the box with the sticky side applied to your glass insert —use a credit card edge to get it smooth. Will still be transparent but should cut down on the reflection of the glass

  • Jaqueline

    Good morning! I have a canvas painted in graphite, I would like to put a frame and an anti-reflective glass. The problem is 3 ft by 4ft and a half. Where could I take it? I live in Fredon NJ

    • Heather

      Hi Jaqueline,
      We would suggest you take this to your local professional framer.

      Thank you and have a great day!

  • Andrea Hofmeister
    Andrea Hofmeister May 14, 2021 at 10:50 am

    I work in pastels and the must be glazed (be behind glass). Museum glass is best, but very pricey. It limits the sizes of my finished paintings due to the cost. It is also very heavy. The new anti-static plexiglass is apparently very good optically, bit it is even more expensive than museum glass. All the pastel artists would love to see the cost come down on that new innovation.

  • Shammy Psetersons
    Shammy Psetersons June 8, 2021 at 11:14 am

    It sure was interesting when you said that you can eliminate reflection by avoiding the use of any glass or acrylic glazing in picture frames. This is something that I will consider because I am planning to shop for custom picture frames. My plan is to display our family portraits in an area that is noticeable. I will remember all your tips for the photos to look great in frames.

  • Ella Starr

    How helpful that you mention how to use glazing with the least expensive option. I want to start a new business this summer. I will find a great glass cutting service in my area for this as well.

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