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. At home, there are a few ways to reduce reflections on framed artwork.
Option 1: Eliminate the Glazing
The least expensive 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 eliminating a major part of the framing package. And with no glazing, there is little chance of reflection.
Unfortunately, this option has serious drawbacks. The artwork has no protection from curious fingers and atmospheric pollutants, gathering dust and grime on the artwork itself, which can prove more difficult or impossible to clean. It also results in 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. With this positioning, you only see reflections if you are below the artwork, looking up at it. You could purchase picture frame lights, which can be attached to the wall behind picture frames, or adjust where you hang the frames if you happen to have appropriate lighting already in position.
Option 3: Choose Non-Glare Glazing
If you cannot control the lighting in your home — not that many people will undergo lighting renovation just to avoid reflections in picture frames, after all — another option 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 with the look of having no glazing at all. 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 — whatever way you choose, you won’t have to worry about all that glare.