Stacking Metal Frames: Framing Treatment Technique

Stacking frames is a technique in which two frames are used to create a single treatment by layering a smaller frame inside a larger one. Often, the frames are different profiles and materials (i.e. wood paired with metal). The concept is similar to using a linen liner, but with far more options in style and color.


To design and order a “stacked” treatment in the online framing engine, start by choosing the profile and color for your inner (smaller) frame. 

Here is a list of frames that this can be done with:
Neo-Linen fits inside Standard Plus 3, Deco, Canvas and Canvas Plus
Neo Florentine fits inside Standard Plus 3, Deco, Canvas and Canvas Plus
Techline fits inside Standard Plus 3, Deco, Canvas and Canvas Plus
Standard Plus fits inside Canvas
Deco fits inside Canvas and Canvas Plus

Next, measure your artwork, then enter the dimensions into the framing engine.

In our example, the artwork size is 15 ¾” x 15 ¾

frame NL550

Next, decide if you want a mat.  If so, enter the border dimensions.

Choose the acrylic and mounting board you want (if any).

Now, take note of the frame’s outside dimensions.  In this case, the outside dimensions are 17” x 17”. This frame will be your SMALLER, inner frame.

Add your package to the cart, then click “continue shopping” to be taken back to the homepage.
Select the profile for the larger, outer frame.  In the framing engine, under “enter measurements” make sure “enter art size” is selected and enter the outer dimensions of the smaller, inner frame you noted.  In our example the outer measurements are 17” x 17”. 

Because you already ordered the other materials with your inner frame, remove the mat board, acrylic and mounting board from this package, then add the larger frame alone to your cart and checkout.  Your order is done!

frame D50

both frames in cart


Once your materials arrive, gather all the supplies you’ll need and lay everything out on a large, clean surface like your counter or a worktable.  Laying down some cardboard packaging will protect your frames and work surface.

Now, assemble three sides of the inner frame and set aside.  If using a mat, hinge the artwork to the mat using tape, ideally framing tape
assembling inner metal frame

Next, peel the protective paper from the back of the acrylic sheet and place the uncovered side of the acrylic on top of the art or mat. Then, peel the paper from the front of the acrylic.

peel protective paper from acrylic

continue peeling paper from acrylic

Slide the acrylic, art, and mounting board into the channel of the metal picture frame.

slide art stack into metal frame

Attach the last side of the metal picture frame and add spring clips to the back of the frame.

attach final side of frame

Set aside.

Assemble three sides of the outer frame.

assembly of outer frame

Carefully slide the inner frame into the channel of the outer frame.

slide inner frame into outer frame

Attach the remaining side of the outer frame.

attach remaining side of frame

There won’t be room to add spring clips to the back. In this case, there is a little extra space in the channel of the outer frame, so we need to add some kind of spacer. We added strips of mat board into the space between the two frames to keep the inner frame from moving inside the outer one.

add mat strips to back of frame

And you’re finished!

finished stacked frame

The many textures, profiles and colors available in frames (compared to the relative simplicity of mats and linen liners) opens up hundreds of possibilities for unique, compelling stacked-style treatments.  The technique is especially useful for larger artwork, in which a wider and heavier look may be desired. 

Have you ever used a stacked treatment?  Or maybe you’re considering it now that you’ve seen how easy it is.  We’d love to see your project and hear your ideas!

Related articles:

The Summer Celebration of the Metal Picture Frame
History of Metal Frames on #AFchat
Aluminum Moulding: Precious Metals for Today’s Consumer
Metal Frames: How to Place and Space Spring Clips
Help, I Can’t Find My Hardware
Do You Sell Extra Spring Clips?
Understanding, Using and Transporting Metal Frames
Are All Your Metal Frames from Nielsen? – Answer to Your Question
Oversize Metal Frame – Answer to Your Question
How to Special Order Nielsen Metal Frames

AubreyK | 7/23/2014 11:03:06 AM | 7 comments
American Frame

That could look great with a metal frame!
7/24/2014 8:35:57 AM

The piece of art work is an original Russell D'Alessio that had been in a wooden frame that split at the bottom. A double metal frame would be sweet.
7/24/2014 5:29:04 AM

American Frame
That would be great! What kind of artwork are you thinking?
7/23/2014 4:22:58 PM

I like it. I think I have a project I would like to try this on.
7/23/2014 4:17:49 PM

American Frame

The blog has been updated to show which frames this can work with! Hope it helps. You can always order some samples to make sure the frames you are thinking of using will look how you expect.
7/23/2014 3:41:35 PM

American Frame
Hi Allison,

Great question! We can compile a list and add it to the blog. Stay tuned.
7/23/2014 11:32:50 AM

That looks great! How do I know what frames I can do that with?
7/23/2014 11:27:05 AM

About this blog

Mike Cromly
So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, with custom frame shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35+ years with the company. A natural teacher, he loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there. Working in the plant and improving our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man and Ohio State Buckeye fan. Mike's Twitter
For more tutorials and articles, take a look at our other blogs - A Good Frame of Mind or At Your Service

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