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Framing FAQs

Here's something we put together as a little primer.

"How much will it cost to frame my picture?"

This is like calling up a baker and asking how much a cake will cost. It depends! With picture framing, there are a lot of variables: size, frame moulding (or not), glazing (or not), backing board (or not), method of securing the artwork, spacers (or not), assembled (or not), etc.

We have anything from 2,000 premade frames in standard sizes and pre-fab metal Framekits that can make up odd-sized frames on inch increments to a wide range of custom frames including closed-corner authentic gold leaf frames.

If we're assembing your small picture into a premade frame, it'll likely run under $50. With a custom frame, matting, mounting, specialty glass, you can probably add $100 to that. Larger pictures can run into the hundreds of dollars since it's much like having custom furniture made.

We can meet just about any budget, but the more you spend, the more you increase the "wow" factor. Spending $400 framing a picture that you'll be appreciating every day for 20 years translates to a mere 5¢ per day over that time period. That's a pretty small price to pay for all the comments you'll get from your guests like "That framing is so beautiful! Where did you have it done?"


"Why should I bring my picture to Lenz?"

It's best to read our main framing page which goes into detail about this. Short answer: we're a company that generations have trusted for their own framing and folks believe we're a good value (top quality but without a top price) for which you can read our testimonials page. Can you get framing for less? Yes, but beware, there's usually a good reason that it's costing less—such as taking shortcuts and using subpar materials and techniques! We've seen it ourselves when those pictures are later brought to us for fixing and we take them apart.


"Can you explain the different kinds of matboard?"

Matboards fall into two main categories: regular and conservation. "Regular" boards gradually become more acidic over the years and will damage your artwork. Conservation boards are lignin-free and acid-free (and buffered with calcium carbonate to stay that way) and are fade-resistant since they use pigments for color instead of dyes which are more fugitive.


"Why shouldn't I just slap glass on top of my picture?"

You know how sometimes when you come out to your car in the morning and your windows are fogged up on the inside? Well, the same thing can happen in a picture frame. This condensation is bad for artwork. It can soften photographic emulsions causing them to stick to the glass and paper art can fall victim to discoloration or even "foxing"—small brown spots commonly seen on old papers.

The solution? Either a mat—a double mat if the artwork is large—or spacers. Spacers are special strips placed under the lip of the frame between the glazing and the artwork. If you are only a little concerned about condensation, instead of glass you can use acrylic (commonly known by the brand name "Plexiglas") which is a little less susceptible to moisture build-up.

"Glass can keep my picture from fading?"

While almost all types of light can fade a picture, the worst is ultraviolet ("UV") light. Regular glass blocks about 65% of UV light—this is why it's difficult to tan through a window—but this is not enough to preserve colors. Hence, we have UV filtering glass and acrylic. The UV-filter blocks over 97% of the ultraviolet portion of the light spectrum, which is most responsible for fading. The UV-filtering glazing will certainly give your picture an edge. The visible light portion of the spectrum closest to the UV part also results in fading, so you can't really expect no fading at all unless you keep your art in a pitch black room!

Glass is available in a number of types. Regular/clear, non-glare (etched on one side to reduce reflection, which when more than an 1/8 of an inch away from the artwork surface can result in a distracting diffusion effect), UV-filtering clear, UV-filtering non-glare, and museum (awesome, but more pricey, with UV-filter and a non-reflection surface that does not have a diffusing effect). And new types of glass are introduced to the market occasionally.

Acrylic has the advantage of being about half the weight of glass, and is much less breakable, but it is more expensive, scratches fairly easily and has a static charge that attracts dust. It also needs to be cleaned using a soft cotton cloth, not paper towels. Acrylic is available in clear, non-glare, UV-clear, UV-filtering non-glare and a museum version.

"What about behind the picture? "

Backing materials, most commonly foam-core boards, are also available in either regular and acid-free configurations. We don't use cardboard, which as far as good framers are concerned, is "evil." It is very acidic, as are most untreated wood products such as Masonite, plywood, and paper "chipboards."

"How do you hold my art in place?"

Paper fibers tend to expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes which result in buckling or waving—conservators call it "cockling"—of your picture. The only way to guarantee that your artwork will be flat all year around is to have it mounted. This involves coating the back of the art with an adhesive and permanently adhering it to the backing material.

However, since the mounting process is not easily reversible it is not recommended with valuable art or something that you may want to frame differently in the future. In these cases you would have the art "hinged" using pH neutral hinges or held in place with photo corners. This is the conservation process. You can expect the arwork to have a little "waviness" to it with this process, particularly with most watercolors and other wet media.

If you are mounting a poster onto foam-core board to be hung without a frame or glazing you may wish to have wood braces placed behind to prevent bowing which may occur due to moisture. Or have it mounted onto thicker or special warp-resistant foamboard.

"What if I want to resell this artwork later?"

If you want to save a piece of art so that it is appraised at the highest possible value, talk to a conservator about placing it in an acid-free opaque container in relatively dry, temperature stable room. But you can't enjoy it, so what you can do in framing it is use all conservation materials, a UV-filtering glazing, and have it hinged or held in place with photo corners. Then hang it where there is no direct sunlight, only reasonably dim ambient light. Another option is to frame a copy and store the original.


Here's a few preventative measures and the reasoning behind them:

  • Don't leave your framed picture outside in the sun, even for a short time since a swift temperature change can cause condensation (see above) and the sunlight has a very strong ultraviolet component that results in fading.
  • Avoid hanging or placing your picture where it will experience dramatic temperature and humidity changes such as near a stove or fireplace or in a bathroom, on a concrete floor, or even on an outside wall. Condensation which facilitates mold growth and paper buckling can easily form.
  • Avoid carrying your picture by the wire, it's not designed to sustain the added tension from the bouncing step of a person.
  • When you decide to clean your picture, spray the cleaner on your wipe, not on the front of your framed picture as the liquid can run under the lip of the frame and under the glazing onto either your mat or your artwork.
  • If you opt to store your framed artwork, do not store it directly on the floor, particularly in a garage. Floors can very easily get wet due to spills, leaks or just seepage. That moisture gets right into items stored on a floor, so place a nonabsorbent riser of some kind under your stored pictures, or you may be seeing us sooner than you may expect!

Enjoy your picture!

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