Our Frame of Mind

A collection of tips, framing techniques and artist insights.

Painting dimensions: How to measure your artwork for framing

You know what we really need? Precise measurements.
Ordering custom picture frames and custom mats from AmericanFrame.com requires precise measurements. Knowing what and how to measure is important. This blog post provides an explanation of the dimensions you need to make sure of in order to create various types of framing packages.
But first, a rule about rulers, and a very precise thought:

  1. On many rulers, the first inch isn’t accurate. To be totally precise, we recommend starting from the second inch on your ruler. And, remember  to subtract that inch from your measurement.
2. Measure to the nearest 1/16 of an inch. At American Frame, our proprietary PrecisionCut™ technology enables us to cut your framing materials to the nearest 1/16. For us, details matter, and it’s this painstaking detail that makes for a better presentation of your artwork.
How to measure artwork you want to frame without a mat
First, measure the width and height of your artwork. In our online ordering process, those two measurements will determine the size of the inside of your frame, NOT the opening on the outside – the front – of your frame. To make sure your artwork doesn’t fall through the opening of the frame, the lip on the outside of your frame will overlap the artwork slightly – by about ¼” all the way around.
If, during the online ordering process, your frame package shows that a mat will be included in your order but you don’t want a mat, you can remove it from your order by clicking “remove all matting” or the “remove” button next to mat in the shipping cart. 

How to measure artwork you want to frame with a mat 
The window in a mat is normally cut ¼” smaller in both width and height than the size of your artwork. Why? So that artwork doesn’t fall through the mat window. The overlap prevents that from happening. Because our website automatically makes this reduction of ¼” in width and height when you order a custom frame package, please be sure to enter the actual measurements of your artwork.
Maybe the artist’s signature is near the edge of the artwork, and you want the signature to be visible once your artwork is framed. The mat overlap can be changed from the standard 1/8” to just 1/16”, to allow the signature to be seen. (Please note: this adjustment can make the artwork more difficult to mount.)
How to measure artwork you want to float within a frame
Especially for artwork on textured paper, with a deckled edge, or an otherwise interesting border, a floating treatment – a floating frame for canvas – is a very worthy option.
First, attach your artwork to a mat board or mounting board that hasn’t yet been cut. To do so, measure the width and height of the artwork. Then, decide how much border you want. Add the desired border width to both the left and right sides of your overall width. Then, add the desired border width to both the top and bottom of your overall height. On our website, these measurements should be entered as the “frame size.” It will be the size of the uncut mat, frame, acrylic, and mounting board required for your floating frame package.

How to measure artwork when you want to show an existing border or reveal
Sometimes, prints and photographs have a border that’s worth displaying. Maybe the signature of the artist is in the border. To allow it to be displayed, measure the extra space of the border you want to be visible. You may even want to double the border width and add it to your measurements, which will then be the size of the opening of your mat board. Be sure to change the mat overlap amount to “zero” so it’s not automatically factored into your dimensions.
How to measure stretched canvas for framing
Stretched canvas isn’t always perfectly symmetrical. So, we recommend measuring the stretched canvas at both ends as well as in the middle, and in both directions – top to bottom and side to side. If the measurements vary, order a frame with the largest of the three measurements. This will ensure that the frame can accommodate the entire canvas.

If the measurements vary by more than 1/4”, we recommend a canvas floater frame.
Be sure to include the additional canvas folded at the corners…that is, the part that extends out beyond the stretcher bars. The folded canvas can add as much as 1/8” to the overall measurement. Remember to also take the canvas depth into consideration. Select a frame with a rabbet (the measurement of the inner portion of the frame that holds the canvas) that’s deeper than the canvas stretcher bars. Note: The rabbet, or depth, of all American Frame picture frames are indicated on the frame detail page with an “R.”

With the right measurements, excellent results are more likely to be delivered right to your door in an American Frame package.

Questions? Contact the American Frame customer service team.
October 8, 2020
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