Framing Prints

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Why frame a print? The frame acts a display for the print. And if the proper materials are used the print will remain flat and undamaged.


Common Materials

The most common materials frames are made of are: soft or hard wood, aluminum, or polystyrene. The frames can come in a multitude of colors, including natural wood.


The frame may contain a pane of glass, in order to protect the picture. Glass may be treated with various coatings, the most common being a UV coating to protect the item framed from harmful ultra-violet radiation. Another more expensive glass, museum glass, has a coating which makes the glass non-reflective and practically invisible. Another option is Plexiglas.

Plexiglas is an alternative to traditional glass that is lighter and sometimes used on larger frames because of this trait. UV safe Plexiglas is commonly available and can actually be more expensive than standard UV glass. There are two drawbacks to using Plexiglas. One drawback is that on a larger frame, it may not be perfectly flat like standard glass. Viewing from a sharp angle can show a small amount of distortion. Plexiglas also has a tendency to show light scratches over time due to cleaning. It is recommended to use a soft, non-abrasive cloth to clean Plexiglas and to avoid using harsh glass cleaners.

Some pictures need to be held slightly away from the glass, notably pictures in charcoal, pastel, or other media with a tendency to smudge. Also there is a potential for bonding between the ink from the print and the glass. The frame helps to achieve this protection by containing a fillet, which comes between the frame and glass and the picture. The fillet is sometimes called a spacer.


The mat is a piece of cardboard or other material placed over or under a print to serve as a frame or provide a border between the picture and the frame. The most popular types of mats are single, double and triple. Cotton is a good choice for archival matting. No matter the color or material, make sure the mat is acid free, if you want it leave the print unscathed.

Mounting Board

The mounting board sits behind the artwork. Be sure the materials are archival if you want to prevent damage to the print and ensure longevity of the print.