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The Difference Between a Custom-Made compared to Ready-Made Picture Frames

floral (original acrylic)

floral (original acrylic)

The custom-made and the ready-made frames are two aspects to picture framing, this article will give you an outline regarding the differences between the two.

Firstly you need to understand that a ready-made frame is mass produced in a factory, there are hundreds of the exact same manufactured, processed and sold at different department stores, supermarkets and other places. You will find them in various standard sizes and can be used for things like your child’s school certificate, family photos and many other small projects.

On the other hand is the custom-made frames, these are made to each customers specification, often hand made and often unique.  Measurements taken are often different from the standard ready made frames.

Any framing project needs decisions to be made before selecting a style of frame.  The framer needs to choose the matting, the color of the matting, the type of glazing size and dimension of the object to be framed, there are no right of wrong answers, but the object to be framed can determine what would be best due to its unique characteristics. What a framer will look at is:

  • The artwork medium
  • The size of the artwork
  • The level of conservation that would be desired.

Looking at Custom Picture Frames

When a framer considers a custom frame he/she will discuss it with the client to come to an agreeable final outcome.

With customization of the frames, all aspects of the framing is considered.  Most frames begin with the type of frame molding, choosing between wood or metal, it will then extend to the glazing to be used, the backing, matting and also the necessary hardware.


Starting with the glazing, different types can be purchased, the three basic types are clear glass, glass that has reduced reflection or anti-glare glass, and glass that is anti-reflective. The appearance of each type is different and thus affect the finished result of the painting within. Then there is acrylic glass and this is different and can have a different effect on the finished framed product. Glass can be cut to size to fit custom sizing of framing. Museums usually use an anti-glare or anti reflective glass as it reduces any reflection that could distract from the viewing of the picture, and it is also the most expensive.


The backing is the material that the artwork will be mounted on, there are standard backing,  an acid free backing and self-adhesive options.  Some types of backing board, speak to our specialists which is the best for your project:

  • Art-Bak fluted board
  • Brown-board
  • Conservation grade board
  • Corex fluted polyprop board
  • Cream Pulp board
  • Grey Board
  • Hardboard
  • Pre-cut MDF panels
  • White Liner Board.


Matting comes in hundreds of different colors as well as conservation grades, and custom framing can even use two or more mats that can give a really distinctive look to the finished product.

Custom framing is usually made to customers specifications, often in collaboration and advice from the framer. You can expect a custom frame to take about a week or more to complete as each aspect has to be done individually. And naturally a custom frame will cost more than ready made frames.

Ready-Made Frames

There is not a lot to be said about ready-made frames, they are usually of standard sizes, in many cases the sizes of photography prints.  You can expect to find a 4×6, an 8 x 10 or a 16 x 20 in most places you wish to buy a ready-made frame. Most mass produced frames are also limited with regard to the individual framing components,  for example mat color and border width that is offered is usually white. They can be purchased in wood, metal and low-cost materials such as fiberglass or plastic. Because of mass production it lowers the costs of the frame,  as they are made in factories in large quantities.  You can find mass produced framing in high quality and poor quality, depending on the materials that are used.

Discuss with our specialists which is the best for your project from your child’s school photo to that family heirloom.