For most art items such as prints, posters, photographs and related items, the custom framing job will include your choice of frame, one or more mats that go around the picture, and protective glass. Each of these is shown in the diagram below.

Frames – frames, also called moulding, are made from wood, or composites that consist of various resin-based compounds. The moulding comes in multiple designs, colours, shapes, sizes, and costs. Some mouldings are made in Canada, some in the US, and some in Asia. At Picture Source we rely on three major suppliers: Omega Moulding in Vaughn, Ontario; Larson Juhl in Mississauga, Ontario, and Michaelangelo in Montreal, Quebec. Each one offers a broad selection of mouldings.

Frames typically come in nine or ten foot lengths, also called sticks. So when we measure your picture it’s designed to give us an idea of how many sticks we’ll require. A 24 x 36 inch image for example will require two sticks (here’s the math: (24 inch width +36 inch length) = 60 inches for two sides. There are four sides so multiply by 2 = 120 inches of total perimeter length. Then multiply that by about 1.2 (or about 20%) for wastage, and you get 144 inches of total length needed, or about 12 feet. So two sticks of nine feet will be required). Mouldings are usually the most expensive component in the framing job. Note that the same general calculations apply when we’re figuring out how many sticks will be needed to stretch your canvas art. More on this below as well.

Mat Boards – mats are added to a picture to give it character and context. They can be either a single or double mat (ie. an inner and outer mat) in any one of dozens of colours. The mats are made of either a wood pulp material (called ‘alpha cellulose’), or a cotton rag material. The key to both is that they are acid free which ensures no discolouring of the perimeter of the art over time.

Acid free mats are generally sufficient for most home décor type art. I have a picture that has hung on my walls for more than 40 years using a basic acid free mat and it has never discoloured. If the art is considered to be of high value, then some will choose a 100% cotton rag mat. They are considerably more expensive than standard mats, but are likely worth it when framing an expensive piece of art. 18

Glass – the primary purpose of glass (or glazing) in art framing is to physically protect the work from damaging factors such as humidity, heat, and soiling. Generally glass can be categorized across four types:

  1. Flat (or regular) glass – cost effective, and generally sufficient for most home décor wall art situations.

  2. Non-reflective glass - also called ‘museum glass’ or “optical glass” is designed to cut down on glare and reflection from any angle both of which can reduce the visibility of the art. Some types of museum glass can also filter damaging ultra-violet radiation (UV) and heat.

  3. Laminated or acrylic glass (also known as plexiglass) – this type of high strength glass is used to protect against breakage. Art framed in acrylic has become popular in recent years because it can be done without the use of a frame if desired. In addition, many
    e-commerce companies that sell art can count on less damage during shipping because acrylic is shatter-resistant, lightweight, hard, flexible, and even recyclable. It should be noted, however, that acrylic is generally more expensive than normal flat glass, often by a factor of twice the price of regular glass.

Mounting Board - the lightweight backing used to mount your artwork. It’s an important component to protect your artwork. We use an acid free matboard for mounting purposes.

Backing Paper and Hanging Hardware- the last items added to the custom frame is backing paper and hanging hardward. For best results we’ve found that using both tape and glue together will securely attach the backing paper. And once the hanging wire is on we’ll also always include a hanging hook so you’re not chasing around for that last piece of hardware once you’ve got the art at home.