The Anatomy of a Picture Frame

This post discusses the various frame components that may be included in any picture frame treatment and the order in which they should typically appear within the rabbet of your frame. Starting from the top there is the acrylic and mat board, followed by the artwork and the mounting board. Pretty simple, right? Each category contains a number of products that may seem confusing if you’re new to framing or are not familiar with the industry terms. Let’s discuss them in detail.


Anatomy of a Frame Treatment

The Anatomy of a Frame Treatment

Acrylic is also known as glazing or plexi-glass. It is a great choice for framing because it is shatterproof, light-weight and distortion free. We carry four different types of acrylic for you to choose from: Standard, Non-Glare, UV, and UV Non-glare. All are acid free.  Standard and Non-glare acrylic are for general purpose use whereas UV and UV Non-glare are conservation grade because they block the harmful atmospheric rays from reaching the artwork.
Mat Board:
Mat boards offer you the opportunity to give your frame treatment a unique look and style. They also serve an important purpose. Functionally, their main purpose is to hold the acrylic off the artwork, allowing air to circulate within the frame treatment, helping preserve your art. Mats can also provide different levels of acid protection, depending on which type you chose. This is important because acid can be given off by the artwork itself or in some cases; even the wood frame and emit gasses that could affect the artwork over the years. A board described as offering “passive” protection will not contribute to the acid mix. Boards with “active” protection will absorb these harmful acids. Any products with Artcare Technology will offer this type of archival protection. Beyond their function, they can change the “look” of a piece of artwork entirely. Mats can add depth, scale, color, and change the mood of a piece of artwork.
Mounting Board:
Mounting board (also known as foam core), acts as both the back of the frame and provides support to artwork. Mounting board is light weight foam that is sandwiched between two layers of paper. The foam provides rigidity while the paper provides a smooth surface for mounting (if the artist chooses to do so). We carry four different types of mounting board: Standard, Acid-Free, Self-Adhesive, and Black.

The picture frame is the most important design element of the treatment. We offer a variety of styles and options in both wood and metal. When choosing a frame, consider budget, archival properties, style and ease of assembly.
It is important to note that each of these components has a certain thickness and that each frame has a space where all these components must sit. This space is called the rabbet and van be viewed on the frame detail page of every frame we sell. Before ordering, we recommend adding up the thicknesses of all the components (acrylic, mat(s), and mounting board) and comparing them to the frame’s rabbet depth to ensure a nice fit.
For more tips and information on framing, take a look at our DIY Framing Fundamentals book.


AubreyK | 1/8/2014 9:17:46 AM | 0 comments
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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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