The Main Components of a Picture Frame

Picture frames work as an effective design element in adding grace and style to a room. Even in the age of computers and digital picture frames, there is still something about the classic picture frame that draws the eye to precious captured moments or to a piece of artwork. But today’s technology has benefitted us in that those who are still “old school” enough to want vintage picture frames can easily order them online.

There are a lot of available options you can choose from just by simply browsing the website of a reputable frame store such as Victorian Frame Company. You can choose from ready-made items such as inline oval frames or circular picture frames as well as custom-made frames such as display cases.

However, to keep from being too overwhelmed with all the available choices, it is useful to know the main components that a picture has, as well as what options you have for each component. Here they are:

1. The Frame Molding. This is the most visible part of the frame and is the one that encloses the picture or the artwork. This can be made by wood, metal or even PVC or plastic. The frame molding also serves to provide structural support for the frame, ensuring that all the other components are kept intact and the item being framed is secure even as it is being displayed. When choosing the molding, you should consider:

-The material. Quality frames often use wood or metal but there are also sturdy plastic versions. When choosing the molding, consider the kind of photograph or artwork you have (classic or modern).

-The depth of the rabbet. This space is a notch in the interior of the frame where the other components in the “display area” are installed. The rabbet keeps these components securely in place. You need to know the thickness not just of the photo or artwork but also the matting and the backing. Otherwise, having a rabbet that is too narrow will mean that the other components you would like to add will not fit into the frame.

- The molding style. This refers to the design, color and finish of the frame. There are a variety of molding designs that will serve different style preferences. Remember the predominant colors of the picture so that you can choose the color and finish with a mind on how to complement these colors. The options for the finishing include matte and glossy.

2. Matting. This is a piece of paper or board that provides an additional “frame” for the picture or artwork. This “frame within a frame” highlights and draws the eye to the picture and also provides enough space in between the picture and the glass. This prevents the picture from sticking to the glass as a result of humidity and condensation. When choosing the matting, be sure to compute the matting’s total width and include this when choosing the depth of the rabbet. Check to see that the color/s is part of the color family of the main colors of the picture. You can have one or more pieces of matting or even none at all.

3. Glazing. This is the clear cover that protects the picture from moisture and humidity, dust, grime and in some cases, the sun’s harmful UV rays. This is usually made of either glass or Plexiglas. There are some items (such as artwork) that don’t need a cover. However, it is highly recommended for pictures, especially old, irreplaceable ones, to have glazing in order to preserve the pictures’ quality and appearance. Depending on your budget and more importantly, the kind of item you are framing, you can choose from among the following options:

  • -Anti-glare
  • -UV protection

You can also have glazing that has one or more of the above options. The anti-glare feature ensures great picture quality as it prevents the sun from reflecting on the glass surface so that it muddles picture visibility. The UV protection feature helps shield the picture or artwork from the harmful effects of not just sunlight but light in general. Prolonged exposure to light can cause damage.

4. Mounting Board. Also known as the backing board, this is where the picture or artwork is mounted. This adds to the structure and durability of the frame and can be a piece of board paper or wood. You can choose to have archival backing, where the material used does not contain acid or lignin that can cause discoloration to the picture paper. You can also choose the type of mounting board: archival (does not have acids or other compounds that cause discoloration), self-adhesive or treated board.

5. Protective cover. This can be a piece of lint-free paper that is used to “seal” the frame to prevent the entry of dust and humidity into the frame through its back. It is placed on the outside of the frame using double sided tape. This protective cover is optional but highly recommended.

Title Tag: Knowing the components of picture frames can help you pick the best picture frame package.

Meta description: This article outlines the 5 main components of vintage picture frames. Being able to identify each component helps you determine what options are best for your requirements.

22nd May 2014 Eric Morgan

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