frame (at) framingboca.com

How to Avoid Custom framing Mistakes part one & part two

Many people have a basic knowledge of picture framing, they may have bought frames in the supermarket and put their child’s certificate from school, or

bay view (tropical landscape)

bay view (tropical landscape)

family pictures to hang on the wall, so most of us have some idea of picture framing. Many people however are afraid to buy custom framing as they don’t know and understand much about the more specialized areas of framing. This is especially true with regards to buying custom framing online, and in particular sites that do not offer expert guidance.

At Art and Framing Warehouse, Boca Ratan, Florida we aim to offer more than frames we offer that specialized guidance that is lacking as we believe that our customers are the most important part of our business.

To help our customers we offer a short guide to mistakes that are often made and how to avoid them.

Mat Border

  • Many people choose a too small mat border for their framing, you need to understand the purpose of matting, it is to prevent the artwork from touching the glazing. If the artwork is framed where it touches the glazing then over a period of time the artwork and the glazing will stick together and ruin the artwork.
  • A secondary purpose of matting is to create a grater aesthetic appeal to the framed piece.  If the matting is chosen well it will enhance the artwork, focusing the viewers eye on the artwork rather than the frame.
  • A rule of thumb that most framers use to determine the mat border:
  • The border should be 2 times the width of the frame, sometimes using a 2.5 times ratio width can look even better though this might add to the cost of the framing.

Understanding what is needed to create frames

  • Often the shock of the costs of framing will impact negatively on decisions to buy a specialized frame, if you have some understanding of what is required you can make a more informed choice for your precious art piece.
  • Reviewing the framing components individually might help you decide your choice.
  • Framing mainly consists of three major components, the matting, the glazing and the backing materials lets look at these individually:


There are four commonly known types of glazing:

  • A. Standard glazing
  • B. Anti-glare
  • C. UV-reducing
  • D. Anti-glare and UV-reducing.

What will determine your choice will be the value of the piece to be framed and how rare and irreplaceable the art piece is.

Natural properties of glass and acrylic, about 98% of all the ultra violet rates will have already been filtered. This can determine what glazing is needed.  If the piece to be framed is high-value irreplaceable and will need to last more than 20 years, or that it will be placed in an area that receives direct sunlight, then UV-radiation glass might not be necessary. Speak to our specialists they will advise which is best.

Anti-glare is not something to consider from a conservation aspect, but one of viewing. This will depend where the artwork is to be placed.  If is going to be placed in a very bright area, using an anti-glare glass to improve the viewing of the object.


Matting is available in three types of material. Two of them are made from wood pulp and the third is made of cotton. Cotton is the best quality and will be more expensive. Two of the most well known manufacturers are Bainbrdge and Crescent.

The wood pulp grades are known as Select and Decorative.  The different between the two is the quantity of chemical treatment the mat goes through in the manufacturing process.

Select gets more processing then the Decorative line, essentially both mats are acidic, and the manufacturing process of the Decorative means that more acid is removed from the finished product.

For most projects select grade will work very well.

The high end of the mat consideration is Crescent RagMat. This matting is created from cotton and is naturally close to being acid free, this will depend of the species of cotton used. From the conservation point of view, this is known as the highest quality of matting that is available, and is also much more expensive. One can consider that RagMat to be about 45% more expensive than Select mat.

As aside note:  20 years ago the basic types of wood pulp grade would have started to decompose and yellow like newspaper does. Today’s manufacturing processes have improved on this and wood pulp matting can stand up to 10 years on a wall.

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  • How to Avoid Custom framing Mistakes part two


In days gone by backing would have been made from cardboard or wood based backing. Today we have a much more environmentally friendly option, most of the backing options available today is of recycled material that is plastic-derived product, this recycled product is free from harmful chemicals and acid that can be harmful to artwork.  There are more expensive options of acid free backing, but the risk of damage to artwork extremely low, that it really does not justify going for a product that costs more but does not really do any more than a standard backing.

Plexiglas vs. Real Glass

There are advantages to plexiglas and real glass, deciding what is best for your valuable art piece, its best to be informed about the two medium. Here are a few questions to ask before deciding which is best.

  • l        Where will you display the picture frame?
  • l        The size of the picture frame?
  • l        Will it be moved and how often?
  • l        Who will be cleaning it?
  • l        Value of the artwork, is it replaceable?
  • l        Will it be shipped

Real Glass –   this is a natural product that is made from sand. Cleaning glass is easy with Windex (R) or other glass cleaning products that contain ammonium. It is scratch resistant and does not require special care.  It is less expensive that Acrylic product. Less maintenance and care required. Less static and will not attract dust. Humidity will not affect it – it will not bow. It does not need a protective covering.

Cons related to real glass:

Glass is much heavier than acrylic, if shipped will cost more.  Glass needs a stronger and larger frame moulding, braces and a heavy duty hardware for picture framing hanging.  It is fragile and can break easily especially if dropped. If shipped requires more care and attention to prevent damage. If shipped without the glazing you can easily obtain glazing locally after shipping.  Standard glass has a greenish tint,  there is glass available with less iron content which is optically purer and contains a UV-filter which gives it a slight yellowish tint.  Costs for this is much higher.

Plexiglas – Acrylic

Plexiglas – Acrylic is much lighter, which makes it easier and a better choice for transportation and shipping costs are less. It a preferable choice for very large frames due to the weight issue, for hanging and support from the wall.  Plexiglas is shatter resistant, excellent for high activity rooms such a child’s room and recreational areas.  Its is used in many galleries and museums due to liability issues and less chance of damage to the artwork. Plexiglas has the advantage of being optically pure. It is a better thermal insulator this condensation is not very likely to occur.

Acrylic Cons

On the whole its more expensive than standard glass. It is not scratch resistant and cannot be cleaned with standard glass cleaning products,  however, there are expensive abrasion resistant types available.  To clean acrylic products it only needs a soft cloth such as a microfibre cleaning cloth and water.  Don’t use paper towels which can damage acrylic. Acrylic/plexiglass is susceptible to bowing as its more flexible than glass. This can be an issue with large pieces due to humidity and temperature. Its also susceptible to static and collection of dust. There are products that can be effective in removing static.