How to Select the Right Picture Frame Size

When buying picture frames online, you need to have a working knowledge of picture frame sizes based on the size and kind of item to be framed. Although frame sizes are designed to be a perfect fit to standard picture sizes, there are some non-standard sizes and additional considerations such as the width of the rabbet. There are also additional considerations when you are planning to frame a 3-dimensional item. Having an understanding of frame sizes will help ensure that you get the picture frame that is a perfect fit for your item.

Here are some things you should know:

  • The frame size refers to the picture’s size. The specifications will be based on the size of the picture, rather than the widths and heights of the frame itself. The design of the frame may vary. Various types of frames (antique picture frames, contemporary frames, etc.) will have different molding widths and this will definitely affect the overall size of the frame. However, it is important to first determine the interior size – what the frame will display of the picture. If the frame is based on a standard picture size, the opening will actually be a bit smaller than the overall area (width and height) of the picture. That means that a bit of the actual image’s edges will not be displayed but will instead be hidden under the frame’s matting or interior border.
  • Not all ready-made frames accommodate all picture sizes. Ready-made frames will usually be available for certain standard picture sizes. If your picture is not of standard size, you can consider using matting board to fit it to a larger picture frame. Otherwise, you can order a custom made frame.
  • The frame’s orientation is important. Check whether the orientation of the frame is vertical or horizontal and ensure that this fits with the orientation of the picture. There are frames that can only be stood up or hung in the vertical position while some frames can both be used vertically and horizontally. For instance, a cathedral or heart-shaped frame will only be used for one direction – you cannot turn it sideways. In addition, take a look at the easel or the hanging hardware at the back. If the frame has an easy, check whether the easel or hanging hooks allow use as both a vertical and horizontal frame.
  • The frame’s design will also have an effect on its orientation. It also depends on the kind of decoration the frame has. For instance, if the frame has pearl beading all around the edges, you can use it in its vertical or horizontal orientation. However, if the frame has ornamentations only at the top and the bottom of the frame, it will look weird if you turned the frame around and the ornamentations will end up at the left and right side of the frame.
  • Ensure that you have the right rabbet depth. The rabbet is the recessed area at the back inside edge of the molding of the frame. For flat items such as pictures, the rabbet should be deep enough to hold the glass (whether regular or convex glass), the matting, photo and backing. For 3-dimensional objects that depth should ensure that there is enough space for the item to be framed without it being squished or damaged. In addition, the rabbet should be wide enough to securely hold the items.
15th Nov 2014 Eric Morgan

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