When choosing picture frames for photos, pieces of art, or anything else, some people are guided by what they are framing (does it hold some kind of sentimental value to you), while others just pick out something that will make their home or office look better. What’s important is that you like it as you will probably be the one who will have to look at it the most. Knowing the basics of what components make up a frame and with a few tips, tricks and guidelines you will have all the knowledge you need to be able to pick out the right frame with ease.

The first thing most people pay attention to when buying picture frames is the actual frame itself. Now when choosing a frame the two most popular materials have always been wood and metal. Each of these materials is sturdy and built to last; each will give a certain feel to the room hence choose the material based on what sort of picture or artwork you are framing.


  • Metal frames have an industrial feel about them, they have sharp edges and corners and look much more contemporary. They are usually bolder than wooden frames and using them to frame anything vintage like an old painting, would just look odd and out of place. The most common pieces that a metal frame will usually go on is some kind of modern media or a piece of black and white photography always looks nicer with a metal frame.
  • Wooden frames, which have a more homely feel to them, tend to give off a kind of warmth in a room. This can make the difference in making your house feel like a home or even in giving your office a homely touch. The pieces that suit a wooden frame are usually heirloom artwork or any colour photography. So contemplate what kind of piece you want to frame and make a decision based on that.

The second thing you need to consider is the mat board. When deciding what kind of mat board to use, you should consider three things: the quality, how many layers you should use and what colour you want it to be. The quality grade of the mat board you choose will determine how your frame will preserve your picture or artwork over time. The 3 most commercial mat board material available are decorative, select and ragmat and all will preserve your piece differently over time.

wooden frames

Decorative is the least protective mat board made from wood pulp and coated with chemicals that slow the damage down but will likely stop working after about 5 years. This kind of mat board is just fine for something that you can replace like digital photos. Select is again made of wood pulp but has been chemically treated in a different way hence will last much longer than decorative mat boards. This kind of mat board is the most popular and is the best value for money. The ragmat is the highest quality kind of mat board and its made from 100% cotton, making it acid free. This kind of mat board will preserve any piece for years to come, even the ancient Egyptians used it. There is one drawback to ragmat and this is usually reflected in the price, it is the most expensive type of mat board you can buy.

You don’t necessarily need a mat board, you don’t need to use one at all. You should, however, take into account that you should probably have some kind of precaution so that artwork doesn’t stick to glass (it will usually stick to it over time). Unless you want to layer mat boards to create a border then you will only need one, and they are available in almost every colour. If you can’t find a mat board that you like most online stores stock a great supply of different colours sure to meet everyone’s needs.

Choosing what kind of mounting board you want is the next step. This is the back of the frame and is what the artwork is actually attached to. There are 3 types of mounting board available:

  • standard (suitable for most pieces; it has a very small amount of acidity so it’s generally not an issue).
  • self adhesive (used to permanently attach something; great for posters or pictures, anything that can be replaced if need be; it is generally not recommended for use with something of value).
  • acid free (completely acid free, this is generally used to preserve more rare and valuable pieces).

Choosing the glass and any sort of glazing is the last step. This is not a necessity, but it is recommended if you want to protect whatever is in the frame. Standard glass is fine for the average piece of artwork or photograph. You can also get museum glass which is heavier and durable for more expensive pieces. The typical types of glazing available to go over the glass include anti-glare which reduces reflection of light and ultraviolet which will protect your piece from the sun and resist fading. You can get a mixture of both put over the glass.

When deciding to buy picture frames to frame artwork or photograph you should consider what would look best in your home and how long you wish to keep this piece. If it is a valuable item then I suggest paying a little extra when it comes to caring and protecting the piece. You now have the knowledge to be able to go and choose what frame is right for your artwork. If you cannot find a framing business locally there are many online stores which will deliver a frame you choose right to your door.