FAQ


new to framing?


Welcome to our frequently asked questions page. Hopefully some of these answers will be useful as you consider your framing options. We've compiled this group of frequently asked questions for your reference & created a glossary of framing terms in hopes to demystify the more in-depth framing services we offer.

Over the past 30 years we've been busy at work in the framing studio, cutting, sealing, wrapping, measuring and mounting a wide variety of framing projects.

Every job is different, no two ever leave the studio looking exactly the same - and for this reason, it's likely you'll have unique questions about your framing project. We'd love to hear from you, please give us a call anytime! Our contact information is available here.

 

 FAQ   glossary

FAQ

Q: How long does it take to have something framed at LaFontsee Galleries?
A: We provide the shortest turn-around time possible on your framing order. Sometimes we can take care of your order immediately while you wait, but most often your piece will remain with us for about two weeks.  While we have abundant materials on hand, some mouldings must be ordered.  If you have a rush order, we are happy to work with you using stock materials to accommodate your timeline.

Q: Why should I custom frame something?
A: Custom picture framing enhances the appearance and value of your art, while helping to preserve it for future generations. Whether it’s a family photo, an original oil painting, grandma's needlework or your child's first drawing, your possession deserves special care.

Q: Why is acid harmful to art?
A: In direct sunlight and high humidity, over time, acid can seep out of the material it’s in and into whatever material it’s in contact with. At the point of contact, where this seepage is occurring, a brown shadowy effect called "acid burn" occurs. Acid burn is a permanent stain that cannot be removed. Moreover, it’s a sign that acid has entered the stained material and will eventually destroy it. This is precisely the kind of devaluation and alteration we are trying to avoid with archival framing. 
It’s worth noting, however, that the degree of archival framing we are outlining here is not necessary for every frame job. This is the height of archival framing, as practiced in museums for the highest quality, most expensive art. Standard conservation framing is far less costly and strives simply to keep acid bearing materials out of direct contact with the artwork. Even regular, so called "non-archival" framing provides a decent level of protection against acid contamination by incorporating long lasting acid neutralized materials.

Q: Is archival framing necessary for the art I own?
A: Conservation and archival framing should be reserved for art that is itself acid and lignin free.  To ascertain whether artwork is worthy of conservation or archival treatment, use a pH testing pen.


Q: What’s the best hardware to use to hang my pictures?
A: Different types of wall surfaces call for different types of hardware
PICTURE HOOKS - use on plaster walls with lightweight artwork only. To avoid chipping of the paint on the wall, hammer the nail through a piece of masking tape, then careful peel the tape back. Picture rail hooks are quite popular because they hang off the dado railings and do not mark walls.
ANCHOR - intended for medium-sized pieces of art. Use anchors when you need to be sure the picture won't fall. A hole must be drilled in the wall for the plastic anchor to be inserted, followed by a screw.
TOGGLE BOLT- Use these in plaster walls for very heavy pieces. Once they are in the wall, more support is provided for your piece when the wings of your toggle bolt open up.

Q: What is the proper height for hanging my pictures?
A: Determining the proper level when it comes to hanging art can be tricky. Usually eye level is a safe bet. The problem is that everyone’s eye level is different.  If you want to be more precise, measure 60” up the wall from the floor.  Now, add half of the height of the framed picture.  Then, pull the wire tight on the back of the frame and measure from the tip of the “v” to the top of the frame.  Subtract this number from the total so far and this should give you a good height at which to hang your piece. 

Q: How do I get it to hang straight?
A: The best way is to use a level. However, if one isn’t handy, hold a half-full glass of water along the top of the frame when you’re holding it against the wall.  The water surface is your make-shift level.  If your picture is horizontally rectangular, always use two picture hangers spaced a little ways apart to stabilize it on the wall.

Q: I have several framed pieces I have no place for. How do I store them?
A: To properly store your framed pieces, cover them with soft fabric, like an old cotton or flannel sheet and lay the pictures facing each other front to front or back to back.  It is good to lay sheets of sturdy board in between to prevent shifting. 

Q: What's the best way to protect framed artwork while relocating?
A: The main thing to be aware of when transporting a frame is how vulnerable the corners are to dings and dents. To protect your picture, use paper corners (available in corrugated cardboard or other heavy grade card materials) that slide onto your frame and secure snugly. They are generally inexpensive and are just what you need for that extra protection. As an extra precaution, wrap your pictures in sheet or blankets to avoid scratching against one another.

Q: Does dry-mounting something ruin it?
A: Dry mounting itself does not hurt the image significantly and is the desirable technique to use for framing open-ended edition posters and prints that would otherwise ripple inside the frame.  The primary reason it decreases the value of original artwork is that it prevents re-framing which is more of an issue for very long periods of time. The decrease in value will be much less significant for items that are not one of kind originals. If the artwork is dry mounted, then you cannot replace the mount board.

Q: What is the function of a mat board?
A: A mat is nearly always rectangular with an inside square, rectangle, oval or circular hole, called a window.  More than a mere decorative element, a mat serves to keep the glass from resting directly on the artwork or photo being framed.  Mats serve as a spacer allowing the artwork to expand and contract with changes in humidity.  This separation is necessary to prevent any condensation that may develop inside the glass from transferring to the artwork itself. Moisture from condensation frequently stains and promotes destructive mold and mildew.


Q: How do you put something like a pocket watch in a frame?
A: The way we get three-dimensional objects into a frame is by using shadowboxes. A shadowbox is really just a frame that is deep enough to house the object, the board an object is fixed to, a backing board to keep everything secure, and glass. Sometimes, we stack two or more frames together to create the needed depth for a different look.


Q: Will I need to follow any care instructions in order to maintain the archival framing job?
A: Yes, You must note the date of the framing on the back of the artwork, and below that note a date fifteen to twenty-five years hence when the artwork should be reframed. Acid exists in the very air and as such can begin to contaminate acid free, lignin free materials given enough time. As a safeguard, only reframing can thwart the onset of acid contamination forever. A true archival frame job is not just the materials and techniques you use today, but the stewardship you provide in the future.

Q: What should I avoid, in order to keep my artwork safe?
ARTIFICIAL LIGHT
can harm artwork if it hangs to close to ceiling, spot or track lighting.  Keep lights at least 12” away from your pictures to avoid having them damaged from heat.
HANDLING – oils and moisture from your skin can become permanent marks on your artwork, photographs or matting.  Handle with care and do your best to avoid touching the image area of a photo or original print, as well as matting.  Fingerprints are nearly impossible to remove and always leave a trace. 
HUMIDITY – a very destructive condition if moisture comes into contact with prints or photographs.  Surface areas can become warped and discolored.  Keep original artwork away from bathrooms to avoid this problem.
RISKY AREAS – seems clear, but it’s surprising how many people do not consider the dangers inherent in certain environments when displaying pictures.  For example, never hang a valuable piece next to a stove.  Oil can splatter and stain needlework.  Or, do not hang a picture in a high traffic area, especially where children are present.  Pictures can easily be knocked off walls and broken glass can cause much harm.
SUNLIGHT – harmful UV light should be filtered through use of specially treated glazing.  Too much exposure can lead to irreversible damage to original artwork, prints and even posters.  Always use the best glass you can afford to protect your framed pieces.  

glossary

Acid Burn

Damage that occurs over time to artwork that was not framed using preservation techniques. Brown stains (acid-burn) around the edges of the artwork are caused by acids from the breakdown of the mat board and cannot be removed.  Acid burn can also appear as yellowish stains and brittle areas on the paper.

Acid-Free

Paper materials with a pH of around 7 are considered to be acid-free. These materials are more permanent and less likely to harm artwork with acid-burn, fading and other discoloration over time. Materials with a pH below 6.5 or above a pH of 8.5 are not considered acid-free.

Acid-Free Foam Board

Board made of foamed plastic (polystyrene) material sandwiched between coated paper from which the acids have been removed or have been chemically neutralized to raise the pH level above 7 (alkaline).

Adhesive Transfer (ATG) Tape

A double sided tape used to stick mat boards and other materials together.

Allowance

The difference between the size of the objects being framed and the inside dimension of the frame.

Allowance, Automatic

An “automatic” addition of 1/8” is given to the frame size when cutting the frame.  This allowance assures that the artwork will fit within the frame without being too snug and is small enough to keep it from falling through.

Allowance, Canvas

An allowance of 3/16” added to a frame size to accommodate a stretched canvas.
Alpha-Cellulose Mat Board: Wood pulp fibers that have been chemically treated to be acid- and lignin-free. This mat board meets conservation matting standards and provides a lifetime of protection.

Anchor

A form of hardware used to hang artwork up on a wall. A hole must be drilled in the wall for the plastic anchor to be inserted, followed by a screw. This is a good way to be confident that the picture won't fall, as it is intended for medium-sized pieces of art.

Archival

Framing technique where all materials are of conservation quality thus preserving such pieces for the longest period of time. Archival framing means that all the materials involved in the process are completely acid-free.

Archival Framing

Used for the most valuable items such as original artworks, limited edition prints, historical documents or historical items. Archival framing uses rag mat, reversible attachment methods, acid-free and lignin-free foam core backing, barrier papers and UV filtering glass. While archival quality materials may look the same as lesser materials, the true difference becomes readily apparent in later years.

Bevel

Cutting or shaping the edge or end of a material to form an angle that is not a right angle, such as the bevel cut on the window edge of a mat.

Beveled Edge

The inside edge of a mat board window is usually cut to form a beveled edge. This means the cut is on a 45-degree angle, exposing about 1/16” of the mat board core and helping draw the eye to the piece. It is also possible to request a ‘reverse bevel’, meaning that the bevel is on the underside. This gives the illusion of a clean, sharp, straight cut.

Black Core

This is a mat made with black core so that, when cut, the exposed bevel is black instead of white.

Bottom Mat

In multiple mat combinations, that mat which is nearest the art.

Bumper Pad

Small self-adhesive pad, made of rubber, cork or felt, used on the back bottom corners on the back of a frame to hold it away from the wall at the bottom, allowing air to circulate. Also steadies the frame on the wall.

Chop

The action of cutting picture frame moulding, usually at a 45 degree angle, to the length needed for a frame. Also, the length of moulding cut for a picture frame.

Clear Glass

Glass made with a smooth or polished surface on both sides. It is not etched, coated or laminated.

Conservation Framing

In the purest sense, conservation framing is the use, methods, and materials, approved by the U.S. Library of Congress for custom picture and art framing, that do not alter or cause damage to the artwork in any way. Completely reversible, conservation (or preservation) framing helps to protect your art or photographs from fading. All the materials used in conservation picture framing that could possibly come into contact with the artwork are completely acid-free. This achieves the ultimate protection for your piece, minimizing the effect of adverse atmospheric conditions and generally providing a lifetime of protection for artwork.

Conservation Mounting

This type of mounting means that you could remove your artwork at any time and that you would never know that it had been framed before. There are a variety of techniques you can employ to mount a piece in this way, including the employment of acid free corner pockets and acid-free adhesives.

Corner Samples

Short molding lengths mitered and joined to form a corner, used as visual aids during the framing design process.

Corrugated Corners

These folded bits of corrugated cardboard are perfect for protecting the edges of your picture frame while in transit. They come in small and large sizes and are easy to secure.

Double Mat

Two mats layered one on top of the other with a slightly larger opening on the top mat. This difference (the amount of mat board showing) is called the “reveal”. Double mats are great to bring out an accent color in the piece and to give an extra sense of depth.

Dry Mount

Framing method in which a print is fastened to a stiff backing with non-liquid adhesive. Dry mounting is not recommended for prints of any value.

Dry Mount Press

Heat-activated press that utilizes even heat and pressure to mount, laminate and texture (for example) photographic prints or posters on substrates up to 1” thick. Dry mount tissue, consisting of thin sheet of paper impregnated with heat activated adhesive is used to mount paper media to foam core or heavy poster board.

Dust Cover

A craft paper seal adhered to the back perimeter of a picture frame is called a dust cover. This protects the picture from insects, dust and dirt from entering the frame and damaging the artwork. (Sometimes simply referred to as a paper seal.)

Fabric Mat

A mat that has been covered with fabric.
Click Here to see an example

Fade(ing)

To lose or cause to lose brightness or brilliance or definition of line, form and color.

Fillet (wood)

A small molding with profile that may be used as an edging on a mat or frame lip. Profiles may differ somewhat. May also be called a slip.
Click Here to see an example

Fit(ting)

The process of assembling glass, mats, artwork and filler board into a picture frame, including the addition of a dust cover, hangers and bumper pads.

Float(ing)

A means of securing artwork to a rigid support so all edges are visible.

Float mat

A window mat raised or elevated off the underneath surface by spacers.

Floater

A float frame is a special “L” shaped moulding made to enhance a stretched canvas. It does not overlap the edge of the painting, but sits behind and around the edge, often leaving a space between the frame and the painting - so the painting appears to be floating within the frame.

Floating Artwork

A double mat (or more) is used. The bottom mat does not have an opening. The opening in the main mat is larger than the image. The image is attached to the bottom mat, so a small portion of this mat can still be seen.
Click Here to see an example

Foam Core

A stiff light material used as a backing board to give rigidity. Foam makes up the core of the board with a layer of paper on its surfaces. Foam core is usually 1/8” to 3/16” thick, and is very smooth. Excellent for mounting images such as posters and lighter paper. Available in white, black, and as acid-free.

Foxing

Many old pictures will have small brown spots visible, generally due to acid or other undesirable elements in the paper, mount board, backing board etc. If left, the damage can be irreversible. The removal of foxing is a job best left to restoration experts.

Frame

That decorative or functional element which surrounds an item, providing protection and display functions. Typically made of wood or metal, a frame generally provides the architectural support element for a work of art.

Frame Design

1) The characteristic appearance of a frame, identified with a historical period or as being that of a particular frame maker. 2) The process whereby the appearance of a frame is planned, designed and executed. 3) The process whereby framing components are selected for a particular artwork.

Framing Tape (Outside the Frame)

Tape applied to the back of the frame to seal against dust and insect ingress and to give a professional finish to the frame.

Framing Tape (Inside the Frame)

Different types of tape are used to secure the artwork inside the frame, depending on what the artwork is made of and its value. Specialty tapes suitable for individual items are used. Cellophane tape or masking tape should never be used.

Glazing

Glazing refers to the glass or acrylic material covering the artwork as a means of protection. There are many variations including regular clear glass, anti-reflective (chemically coated), non-glare (acid etched) and conservation glass (specially formulated to help filter UV light). While most daylight rays will fade the inks used to print photos and prints, the most harmful are ultraviolet (UV) rays which are found in daylight as well as fluorescent lights. There are also acrylic glazing products that come in the non-glare and UV filtering varieties. There is no one material perfect for every condition and they all have their respective pros and cons.

Hardware

The hangers, brackets, screw eyes and other materials used to assemble or hang a wood or metal picture frame.

Hinging

Process of adhering artwork to the backing or the mounting board. Acid-free tape or Japanese paper hinges are attached to the top of the work and another strip is placed over the top to secure it on both surfaces. Hinges are attached only from the top so the artwork is able to hang freely.

Image Size

This is the size of the actual image, not the surrounding border. Unless part of the border is to be shown, the window of the mat should be smaller than the image size in order for it to be attached to the back of the mat.

Join(ing)

In framing, the operation of gluing and nailing the corners of a frame.

Kraft Paper

Strong wrapping paper, usually brown, made from wood chips boiled in an alkaline solution containing sodium sulfate. Comes on a roll in different weights and widths. Used on the back of wood frames as a dust cover (or paper seal.)

Lift Mat (or raised mat)

To raise or elevate the window mat off the artwork by means of spacers made of mat board or foam board strips attached to the mounting board or the underside of the mat and not visible.
Click Here to see an example

Lignin

A natural chemical compound that can cause paper degradation.

Liner

A frame moulding used within the outer molding. May be covered with fabric, often velvet or linen. Many liners are made from fully finished frame stock, including gold or silver. Sometimes called an insert. If over 2 ½ inches wide, called a panel.
Click Here to see an example

Linen Liner

A frame that fits inside an exterior frame, and is covered in a white or neutral colored fabric material. These are very commonly used in the picture framing of oil paintings.

Mat Board

A paper material that protects the artwork from coming in contact with the glass and provides an aesthetically pleasing border to draw the eye to the center. A multi-ply board, it is generally comprised of a core, adhesive, facing and backing paper. Most commonly used as a four-ply, but available in a variety of densities – the thicker it is, the more the core will be exposed in the cut window. The core is most often white, but black core is available. Mat board is available in acid-free and may be made of wood fiber or cotton rag. The surface paper comes in a wide variety of colors.

Mat(ing)

A border, usually cut from mat board, placed around a print, poster, photograph, etc., to serve as a spacer or separation between the picture, the glass and the frame. Besides presenting a pleasing visual border between the artwork and the frame, a mat is also important because it keeps the glass from touching the artwork or photograph. Without this small space for the air to circulate, humidity will cause a photograph to stick to the glass, or mold will begin to grow on the art. In hot or humid environments, mold may eventually form on the mat board where the glass touches the surface of the mat. If this happens, it is time to have the frame unfit, cleaned and the mat replaced.

Mat Cutter

A tool for cutting the window opening in a mat. May be a small hand-held tool or include various levels of sophistication with regard to guide bar, measuring devices, fittings for special effects, oval cutting capability and possibly hydraulic clamps.

Metal Frame

A frame of anodized extruded aluminum sections.

Miter

To cut frame molding on an angle for joining to other mitered pieces.

Memorabilia

Collection of objects that have a sentimental value.

Message Box

Second window cut in a mat where text is placed explaining the connection to the main image being framed.

Moulding

The lengths of wood the frame is made from. They have been refined and shaped from different types of wood and thousands of different stains, glazes and finishes.

Mount Board

A surface, substrate or secondary support to which any art or object is attached. May be regular or acid-free foam core or mat board. There are mount boards of different thickness and quality. A poor quality mount board may have a high acid content which in a very short time will adversely and possibly irreversibly affect the artwork.

Mounting

The process by which an item is adhered to or attached to a support to keep it from slipping, moving or falling inside a picture frame.

Museum Quality Conservation Glass

The highest quality anti-reflective picture framing choice available. This glass is so glare-free that you may have to touch it to know it’s there.  It protects against 99% of harmful indoor and outdoor UV light rays and has the highest light transmission along with the lowest reflection rating of any other glass product. Museum glass provides optimal clarity for true color transmission and the greatest color neutrality. The result is consistent, durable quality and the most attractive display for artwork.

Non-Glare Glass

Glass which has been etched on one or both sides, which defuses the light, resulting in a minimum of glare and reflection.

Ornate

Heavily ornamented and adorned.

Oval Frame

A frame with an elliptical shape.

Oval Mat

A mat with an elliptical opening; may have an oval or rectangular perimeter.

Overall Print Size

The physical dimensions of the paper upon which a print is made.

Oversized

Describes the size of a frame or materials that are larger than standard 32- by 40-inch mat board.

Paper Seal

Note that the backs of wood frames can be sealed, but metal frame backs cannot. The covering is not for decoration purposes, but is primarily functional. The seal protects from bugs, dust and dirt from getting in. There are a few options for backings, but the most popular is called a ‘dust cover’ which is essentially a piece of craft paper cut to the perimeter of the frame, and stretched using a double sided tape.

Picture Frame

A structure usually of wood or metal in which a painting, print or other object is enclosed to improve or enhance its appearance in order to isolate it from a wall link it to a decor, as well as support and protect it.

Picture Hanger

A device attached to the wall on which the frame is hung or attached to the molding of a frame by which the picture is hung.

Picture Hook

Use these in plaster walls with lightweight artwork only. To avoid chipping of the paint on the wall, hammer the nail through a piece of masking tape, then careful peel the tape back. Picture rail hooks are quite popular because they hang off the dado railings and do not mark walls.

Picture Wire

A soft braided or solid wire, available in several thicknesses to support various weights which may be coated with flexible plastic, attached to the back of framed pictures.

Plaques (brass)

A small metal plate mounted on a frame, usually showing the name of the artist and artwork, the donor, or connote some sort of sentiment. 

Plexiglass

Acrylic material used instead of glass. It is very light in comparison to glass and much more resistant to breakage.

PPFA

The Professional Picture Framers Association. A professional trade association that serves the art and framing industry.

Profile

The term used to describe how a frame moulding looks when viewed from one end. It describes the curves, height, width and dimensions of the rabbet.

Rabbet

The rabbet describes the 90 degree recess made to house the glass and mat package on the underside of the inner lip of a picture frame. The size of the rabbet denotes the depth of this recess. Typically, this size does not affect the framing of any artwork since various sized offset clips or framing points can be used to meet the needs of any artwork depth / rabbet depth combination.

Rag Board

Also known as cotton mat board, made from non-wood products such as cotton fibers which are naturally lignin and acid free, are stable and durable. Made with a non-acidic (pH neutral or alkaline if buffered) sizing. Rag mats provide the highest standard of conservation matting.

Rag Paper

Paper with all the qualities and benefits of rag board, but much thinner. Used to make photo corners and for other light weight applications in framing.

Readymade Picture Frame

A frame ready for purchase as is, as opposed to a custom-made frame. Readymade frames are usually produced in standard sizes.

Reflection Free or Anti-Reflective Glazing

Glazing with carefully deposited coatings of transparent combinations of metallic oxides and silicates to transform the phase of the outgoing reflected light so that it cancels out incoming light. This is different from non-glare glazing technology.

Refit

To remove an artwork from a frame and reinstall in the same or different frame.

Regular Glass

The designation for standard single-strength window glass (2.5 mm).

Regular Mat Board

Regular mat board is buffered to be pH neutral (acid-free) and will provide 10-15 years of protection. It is often termed simply as “acid-free” but should not be confused with conservation quality mat board due to a shorter lifespan.

Restoration

Cosmetic repair of an object to recreate its original appearance.

Reveal

In a double mat, the reveal is the amount of the bottom mat that will show. The rest will be behind the top mat.

Sawtooth Hanger

A strip of metal approximately ¼ inch wide with a sawtooth configuration cut into one edge. The hanger is attached to the back of the frame and combined with a nail or hook in the wall to complete the hanging assembly.

Scoop

A common frame molding shape, a cross section showing a concave or hollowed profile.

Screw Eye

A screw with a head shaped into a loop to which the hanging wire on the back of a picture frame is attached.

Shadow Box

A frame made from a deep molding in which three-dimensional objects may be displayed.
Click Here to see an example

Spacer

Can be used between the mat and backing to create a space when a “shadow box” effect is required. A piece of foam core will give 3/16 inch space for the shadow box effect.

Spring Clips

Used to achieve a snug fit in a metal frame. Fits between the back inside edge of the frame and the backing board.

Standard Size Frame

A frame built to one of a variety of sizes deemed standard in the framing industry such as 5x7, 8x10, 16x20, 22x28, 24x36 etc.

Stretch

To pull a fabric taut over a rigid support and secure; e.g., a canvas over a stretched frame or a needle art over foam board.

Stretched Canvas

Canvas is wrapped over the sides of a support frame made of stretcher bars and stapled onto the back. If the artist hasn’t left enough extra canvas around the outside of the picture, the painting might need to be stapled on the sides of the wood to avoid losing some of the picture. Art on canvas generally does not need to be covered by glass and is best displayed using a stretcher frame (stretcher bars). A standard frame can then be fitted to enhance the painting.

Stretcher Bar

A strip of wood with tongue-and-groove ends. Bars are joined to form an expandable frame over which canvas is stretched.

Substrate

A term from substratum meaning a layer lying under another. Generally used to denote a foundation material upon which an item is mounted or otherwise functions as a carrier.

Toggle Bolt

A form of hardware used to hang artwork up on a wall. Use toggle bolts in plaster walls for very heavy pieces. Once they are in the wall, more support is provided for your piece when the wings of your toggle bolt open up.

(UV) Ultraviolet Light

Short, high energy invisible light waves beyond violet in the spectrum with a length of 250 to 400 nanometers.

United Inch

In framing, the combined inches of one length and one width of a frame; an 8x10 frame is 18 united inches.

UV Filtering Acrylic Sheet

A glazing material consisting of an acrylic sheet which has been formulated to remove the damaging ultraviolet rays from light.

V-Groove

A V-shaped incision in the surface of a mat board that reveals the core and acts as a decorative border. V-grooves should be cut approximately 5/8” away from the window. There are two standard types of v-grooves: open and closed. A closed V-groove is a thinly carved V-shaped line deep enough to show a mat’s core color, but not enough to cut through the mat. An open V-groove requires a second mat, as it is spaced enough to show the mat underneath.

Window

The opening cut in a mat board through which the image can be viewed. The window is commonly in the exact center of the mat, but can be positioned elsewhere (higher or lower) to achieve certain artistic techniques. The window is usually 1/8 to ½ inch smaller than the image so the image can be attached to the back of the mat. For example a 5 x 7 photo (exactly) should have a window of approximately 4 ½ x 6 ½ inches.