Art Framing Tips for Fine Art

Works of art are not only valuable but they are also vulnerable. The use of proper materials and procedures to frame the artwork will ensure protection against light, dust and handling. And selecting the right frame can enhance the work of art and avoid those that pull the attention away from the star piece.

A framed art work typically includes these materials: frame, glazing (or protective material), mat boards, backing, moisture barrier and dust cover.

The most challenging aspect to framing fine art is to find a frame that compliments the artwork. While art framing can contribute to overall visual appeal, the frame itself needs due diligence. Using frames of substandard workmanship will ultimately undermine the value of the artwork especially if time; effort and money were invested into purchasing a piece of fine art.

Glass is the most common glazing material used for protection and preservation. It is a less expensive option - one that is relatively easy to clean and less vulnerable to scratching, however glass is usually heavy, fragile and has a high reflective index and glare factor.

Professionals use acid-free materials and 100% cotton rags or other natural materials that are reversible in the framing process as these do not impart damage in any way to the work of art. Fine artwork, original pieces or limited edition prints should be hinged (using linen tape) rather than dry mounting. Dry mounting is a process that uses adhesive and heat to attach art to a substrate. As this is an irreversible technique, you run the risk of damage and devaluing the artwork.

Acid free mat boards offer a border-like effect to the artwork and are usually used to keep the art surface away from the protective surface. It also provides rigidity and support. For added support and protection to the frame, a backing layer is usually applied. Again, the material should be free from acid to prevent damage to the artwork. In addition to a backing layer, a moisture barrier is used to further protect the artwork; and this can be helpful in high humidity climates. A dust cover is the final protective coating in the framing process. It should be acid-free and puncture resistant to ensure a proper seal to the back of the frame.

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