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  • Writer's pictureMandy

The ultimate framing guide: How to custom-frame your art

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

Have you recently purchased a piece of art that you want to frame, but feel overwhelmed by all the options? Guess what, you're not the only one.

In addition to colors and finishes, you also need to consider scale, mats, types of glass, how to hang it... Don't worry, I've got you covered.


When used to frame art, mats serve both as decoration and as functional components. By adding mats to the art, you can create a gallery-like feel and provide air circulation between the art and the glass (which helps prevent condensation).

Mats are a good choice for artwork on paper (drawings, watercolors, alcohol ink paintings), as they enhance and highlight the artwork while separating it from the frame. Additionally, a mat will elevate your artwork so that it doesn't look like a dorm room poster.

There are exceptions to the rules mentioned above. Triptychs, for example, are meant to read as one whole, so mats do not always look right and some larger paintings look better without a mat.

Mats come in various materials, colors, and styles, so let’s dig into some of the options.

There are a variety of materials available, such as paper mats, mat board, cotton rag mats, and archival mat board. In my opinion, archival mat boards are the best option. No matter what you do, make sure the materials you choose are acid-free.

Mats come in a wide variety of colors. The standard colors are white and off-white, which are readily available at most craft stores. Blacks and blues are usually pretty easy to find as well. Professional framers have other options to choose from, but I prefer to pick colors that accent the object rather than distract from it, so white or off-white are my favorites.

In terms of matting, you have the option of choosing single, double, museum, etc. - I recommend a single mat with equal borders. If you are interested in knowing more about Mat Board Styles, this is a good resource.


The options for frames are endless, and ultimately the process of selecting a frame is a personal decision, but there are a few things that I can suggest that may help as you venture into the wild.

  1. The frame width should be narrower than the mat width.

  2. Pick a frame that compliments the artwork - the art and frame should go together. Pick something that is not too similar to the artwork or too busy (decorative).

  3. If you can afford it, I suggest you get your artwork framed by a local framer. Rather than supporting large businesses, I would rather support small ones. If you're not interested in that option (they are more expensive), here are some other options:

    • Unique and online small business options check out Etsy

    • Unique and vintage check out Ebay

    • Easily accessible options with various price points check out Framebridge,Target, Michaels, Anthropologie, West Elm, Pottery Barn

Hanging 101

  1. Plot your display - seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it?

  2. Don't be afraid to trust your instincts- just like choosing frames, you know what you like, and most of the time, you know what you're doing.

  3. Look at the painting from different angles and positions while someone holds it.

  4. Measure- If you are hanging your paintings in areas with mostly blank walls without furniture (hallways, stairways, etc.) make sure that the bottom of the frames is 58-60 inches off the ground. Other options include hanging the art at eye level.

  5. If you want some additional help, check out this article.


For covering paper-based artworks, glass or plexiglass work well. When framing canvas, you do not need to cover it with glass.

Many places that ship art will tent to you plexiglass because it’s easier to ship. High-quality acrylics (plexiglass) usually have UV protection which is optimal for alcohol ink paintings.

Regardless of what you choose, make sure it fits your personal style. After all, you’re the one who’s going to live it.

Alright, that’s it from me, let’s meet up again.

xo, Mandy

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