Six Ways to Lower Picture-Framing Costs

Written by Mark Rogers

Is the high cost of framing keeping those great family photos in a storage box instead of on your wall where you’d like them to be? Framing doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you consider a few simple tips that will help lower the amount you spend on high-quality frames for your cherished photos.

1. Don’t Buy From a Big Box Retail Store

Brick and mortar stores may claim they have the lowest prices on frames, but that’s typically not the case. Retailers act as the middlemen between manufacturers or distributors and the end customer — and they mark up the prices on frames to pay for their services and high overhead. Frame Destination, on the other hand, keeps its overhead low by purchasing direct from the manufacturer and offering frames though its online store. Frame Destination also makes all its frames in the U.S.A., so its prices don’t include extra overseas transport or import costs that may be built into other retailers’ prices.

2. Order Larger Quantities

It might seem counterintuitive, but buying more at once can actually save you money on both the price of the frames and shipping costs. Ordering a larger quantity of product and having it shipped in one order is much more economical than multiple small orders. Frame Destination offers volume discounts starting at a quantity of 4, and for some products such as mats, you can often find larger bundles at drastically reduced prices versus the per-piece price in the clearance section. If you are framing a collection of art, this is a great way to keep a look consistent and save money.

3. Bundle Your Frames with Other Supplies

Instead of ordering supplies from multiple retailers, include them in your order from your frame retailer to save on setup or shipping costs. Frame Destination offers a large variety of supplies such as clear bags, mount board, sealing tape and cleaning supplies. The more you order from one retailer the more you save on shipping. And with the free shipping promotions and order discounts Frame Destination offers seasonally, the savings just keep adding up. Plus, Frame Destination has one of the best shipping protocols in the business: it goes to extra lengths to ensure that no matter how many items are in your order, they will all arrive in perfect condition.

4. Forgo the Face-to-Face Interaction

Custom frame shops are typically more expensive because they have staff on site to interact with customers. The best custom frame shops will have certified picture framers who understand how to frame and are available to answer questions and make suggestions. They also do the final assembly on the frame, presenting you with a completely finished product. Another advantage is that picking the finished frame up yourself from these shops reduces the chance of shipping damage. However, the extra on-site staff and service means higher-paid employees, more expensive equipment, more expensive supplies — and higher costs.
On the other hand, if you know what you need and don’t need the face-to-face guidance, you can save money by buying online or through a distributor — but even they may have different requirements or offer different levels of service. Be aware of those before you try to buy — for example, Larson-Juhl requires framing customers to have a retail store, but Frame Destination has no such requirements for customers.

Frame Destination will also notify you if part of your order is out of stock, while other companies might ship an incomplete order — and you won’t know until it arrives on your doorstep. And with Frame Destination’s extra care shipping methods, it’s highly likely you’ll be consistently delightedly by the quality and condition of your frames when they arrive at your doorstep.

5. Go the DIY Route

You can save a lot money by buying the raw material and creating the framing package yourself. However, this requires equipment, time and skill. You can create custom mat boards more efficiently — and with better quality — with a $1200 mat cutter than a $250 one.

If your volume and craftsmanship is up to the task, you can save money in the long run, but if not, creating your mat boards, mount boards and frames yourself may end up being more expensive than buying new. Consider the time and money you will spend buying the equipment and learning how to use it, not to mention maintaining it. And, if you’re just starting out, the cost of mistakes includes starting over with a new piece of material, so be patient and prepared for higher costs in the beginning.

6. Pick the Right Quality for Your Budget

There are levels of quality and price to fit any project and budget. One of the best mat boards offered at Frame Destination, for example, is the Bainbridge Alpharag, an archival cotton-based mat board. For the smaller budgets, opt for the Alphamat which is alpha cellulose instead of cotton, a comparable archival mat board but not museum archival. To continue to lower costs, you can adjust the quality and density in mat board as well as choose glass or acrylic options that best fit your project’s budget and the desired longevity of your art.

Picture frames don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful. Experiment with both high-end and economical options for your frames to save money — it might take some trial and error, but your memories and masterpieces are worth it.

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3 thoughts on “Six Ways to Lower Picture-Framing Costs”

  • mangastream

    This is cool article

  • Richard White

    I agree whole heartily with these 6 money saving tips. I had a frame shop in Richardson, Texas for eleven years. One thing that is hard on a service framing business is the loss leader ads that "Chain Stores" throw out. The sales price cost the end user something. If not money then it probably cost you in care, service, or quality.

    I am glad to learn about Frame Destination. My 7th tip would be: Be loyal to your supplier. The whole world is built on relationships. A company like Frame Destination will reward a customer in many ways because of loyalty.

    I look forward to checking them out.

  • Tim Chisholm

    Tip number 1 above is especially relevant to my business. We have a full service framing facility, but no retail location. So while we save huge on overhead for our shop space, Larson Juhl specifically treats us like we're radioactive. This makes alternative sources (ie, friendly local retail frame shops) vital, in cases where we have to match a previous job done with Larson Juhl mouldings.


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