Anatomy of a Picture Frame

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Anatomy of a Picture Frame


A professional bespoke picture framer will use the correct materials to ensure that a completed framed picture will be preserved for the future. This article provides an overview of the materials and construction methods used in the framing of a picture. The following diagram shows, in cross-section, the typical elements included in a picture frame. Items included in the frame's construction, and the reasons for their use, are described beneath.




  1. Frame
    Normally made of wood or aluminium, the frame provides the strength as well as the decorative support for the work of art. Moulding comes in all sizes and shapes in a variety of colours that will enhance and compliment your work.
  2. Glazing
    Glazing is used to protect the work of art from pollutants in the atmosphere. The glazing should never come into contact with the art work, particularly photographs. There are several types of glass available, including: Float Glass (by far the most common); Diffused (designed to be non-reflective); Ultraviolet (UV) Light Filtering (designed to protect colour pigments and paper from the damaging effects of UV light); and plastic glazing (typically used where additional safety is required).
  3. Window Mount/Mat
    The mount/mat (or combination of mounts/mats) is placed over the art work, which again compliments the art work and also provides a spacer between the art and the glazing. Mountboard comes in different colours, textures and thicknesses.
  4. Air Space
    A space between the art and the glazing in the frame. (Without an airspace, the artwork could become stuck to the glass.)
  5. The Artwork
  6. Under Mount
    Mountboard of the same quality as used in the Window Mount/Mat. This is used to attach the artwork to.
  7. Backing Board
    A board used in the back of a frame assembly which also provides support to the artwork and both mounts/mats and to keep them lying flat. It also helps to keep dust, insects and pollutants away from the artwork.
  8. Hinges
    Hinges are used to hold the artwork to the undermount whilst allowing it to expand and contract as the temperature and humidity fluctuates. Generally made from Japanese paper, hinges are usually used with rice starch paste. Do not use masking tape, carpet tape, or any other highly acidic tape.
  9. Sealing Tape
    Seals the back of the frame to stop dust, insects, and pollutants getting into the artwork.
  10. Bumper
    A small self adhesive pad, normally made of cork, felt or sponge, that is fixed to the bottom corners of the frame. These are used to hold the frame away from the wall allowing free air flow around the back of the frame.



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