This guide will explain the various componenets which make up a traditional picture frame set. The four most important framing components are the moulding (material of the frame), the matboard , the glaze and backing. The moulding is purely aesthetic whereas the glaze, matting and backing serve a critical function in conservation.
In regular jargon, frames refers to the entire compilation of moulding, glazing, matting, backing and art work. The more technical term for the frames is actually the moulding, which refers to to just to the material the frame is made of. Most moulding is made of either wood, metal or plastic and comes in hundreds of different designs.
The most important decision in framing is the material and the style (design and finish). Plastic is often the cheapest, lowest quality but between metal and wood it’s mostly dependent on the look you are trying to achieve.
Wood has a more traditional look, and offers many more shapes and designs. Metal provides a more modern, sharp and bold look. It’s particularly stunning in black and white art. Most of our frames are available up to 32×40″ as they are sturdy and can support a lot of weight.
With frames, as with all the art work components it’s important not to distract from the art itself. The frames are meant to complement and enhance, so a simple black or walnut wooden frame is great for most art. In galleries and art shows a white single or double picture mat with a basic wooden frame is more than sufficient. Matboard and More® sells elegant wooden black, white and walnut frames, perfect for galleries.
The glaze is the first layer behind the moulding, it is transparent and is made of either glass or acrylic (commonly called Plexiglass). The glaze protects the art from dust or physical damage as well humidity and condensation.
High quality glazing used in conservation framing is thin (2mm or 3mm), it is highly transparent to ensure the art is not visually distorted and it has UV protection.
Acrylic, or more commonly Plexiglass is similar to glass in its functionality but it has the added benefits of much greater durability and lightness. It is almost impossible to crack or break Plexiglass. On the downside, it scratches easier than glass does and some people believe it doesn’t look as good as glass. We sell exclusively Plexiglass glazing as it’s much better for shipping.
Both forms of glazing have multiple enhancement options:
For the majority of framing needs, standard Plexiglass is more than sufficient and it’s not necessary to spend on the additional options which can easily double or triple the cost. Matboard and More® sells Plexiglass for framing in any size up to 32×40″.
Matboard is a paper-type product placed between the glaze and art work, providing a border that enhances the image, while also creating space between the art and the glaze.
Matboard is the most customizable portion of the finished product, but thankfully it can also be one the least expensive with a good retailer. Customization include:
Behind the art work, there is a layer or two which is used to protect the art from behind, it is not visible from the front, but it still serves an important purpose.
Sometimes the mounting and backing board are referred to as the same thing, but they can also be two separate layers. If the art work is attached to that layer, either by a self-adhesive mounting board or just regular tape, it is a mounting board. The backing board is just a layer that goes behind the art but isn’t attached to anything. See our guide to mounting art for more detail on how to attach your artwork to the mounting/backing board
There are many different varieties of backing board including:
The regular matting and foamboard have additional options:
The dust cover is an optional layer that can be put behind the backing board to protect against any dust or particulates entering from the back of the finished product. It’s not necessary as the backing board provides a similar function but in very dusty environments it can be useful.