Identifying the Parts of a Picture Frame

When investing in fine picture frames, it will be helpful to also know the basic structure of the frames. This way, you can make decisions about what kind of picture frame to choose, depending on your needs. There may be a number of things you need to decide on – the design (modern picture frames vs. vintage picture frames?), the dimensions (width, height and thickness), colors, quality of glazing and so on.

Here are the major components of a picture frame:

Component #1: The Frame itself

This refers to the body of frame. This is usually made of wood, metal or plastic. The frame provides the design with its molded edges. You can choose from among antique picture frame designs, contemporary picture frame designs or filigreed metal. You can also decide on the finishing. Some of the more popular finishes include wood veneers, gold or silver leaf or a modern glossy finish.

One decision you need to make about the frame is the depth of the rabbet. This is the part of the frame that holds the other components such as the glazing, mounting board and matting board.

Component #2: Glazing

This is the glass or acrylic covering that protects the picture or artwork from outside elements. Glazing is an optional addition, depending on what level of protection is needed. In addition, the purpose of glazing is to protect from damage caused by the presence of moisture and humidity, heat and direct sunlight. Both glass and acrylic can be equipped with additional qualities, such as UV protection, improved visual clarity and anti-glare capability.

Glass vs. Acrylic

Glazing can be classified into two major categories – glass and acrylic. For both glass and a

Glass is cheaper and offers a lot of visual clarity. However, glass is usually heavier than acrylic and not ideal for oversized picture frames. The overall weight of the frame may cause structural damage to the frame itself. In addition, the frame’s wall-hanging mechanism may give way from the weight. Glass is also prone to breaking.

Meanwhile, acrylic is lighter and more durable. Its shatterproof quality adds another level of protection. When glass breaks, it may cause damage to the photo or artwork being framed. Since acrylic does not easily crack or break, the photo is safer from this kind of damage. However, acrylic requires special care when cleaning, since it easily scratches when harsh cleaning materials are used.

Component #3: Mounting Board

The mounting board is where the photo or artwork is securely attached. This is usually made by cardboard, wood or a polystyrene core covered with acid free cloth or paper.

Because the mounting board touches a large portion of the photo, this should ideally be acid-free. Mounting boards also come with a self-adhesive version, so that photos stick securely to the board. However, if preserving the photo is a major concern, you can use archival methods to secure the photo to the mounting board. With this, the photo is secured to the board but can be safely removed from the board as needed.

Component #4: Matting

Matting is a piece of colored cardboard. The color of the mat board is often selected based on the main color of the photo. This may match the main color or may be a complementary color. The mat board may also be wrapped in fabric to add to the texture. You may also choose to use more than one layer.

Matting is optional, but has a number of purposes. Matting serves to place a space between the glazing and the photo. In the event that condensation gets on the inside layer of the frame, the space prevents the photo from sticking into the photo. In addition, matting directs the eye to the focal point of the photograph. The opening of the matting also crops the photo.

Adding one or two layers of matting will also have an effect on the size of the frame. This is because each layer of matting will require an increase in size all around.

Component #5: Protective Cover

After the glazing, matting, picture and mounting board has been placed inside the frame, the protective cover is placed at the back. This is the outside layer of the frame’s back and is used to protect the picture by preventing moisture and dust from coming inside the frame. The material is usually made of lint-free paper.

Component #6: Fillets

These are decorative sections of molding that you can insert or add into the frame. Like the matting, this is optional, especially if you desire to add a finishing touch to the frame.

16th Sep 2015 Eric Morgan

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