Framing on a Budget - Part 1 - Protect your art! Types of Covering

Framing on a Budget - Part 1 - Protect your art! Types of Covering

If you have one of my paintings or prints, you are probably wondering how best to frame any that didn’t come framed. This guide has my tips and suggestions based on my own experience framing my art without breaking your budget.

However, please be aware that I am not a framing specialist. All that I share here comes from my own DIY experience. You may want to consult a framing professional for best results.

To Frame or Not To Frame

Framing artwork accomplishes a few things:

  1. It protects your art – this is the most important reason to frame your art.
  2. Enhances the presentation of your art – a frame lets you place art at a viewable angle, whether on the wall, on your desk, or even suspended from the ceiling (this guide won’t cover that, but it’s still fun to think about!)

This guide outlines what to do to protect your 2-dimensional artwork. (sorry, I know nothing about protecting 3D art, aka sculptures!)

This includes types of protective covering, mats, how to mount your artwork, types and sizes of frames, dust covers and hanging hardware.

I’ve divided this up into multiple parts, one part per blog post, so you can skip to which ever section you need help on.

Part 1 - Protect your art! Types of Covering

You paid good money for your art, so you should protect it and then enjoy it for a good long time.

Some art does not require a protective cover, such as glass. For example, oil and acrylic paintings are varnished to protect the paint layers. So all they need is a frame to present the artwork.

However, because my paintings are watercolor on cotton paper, they must be matted and framed under glass, plexiglass or acrylic.

Prints, however, don’t necessarily have this constraint. But you still might want to protect it from dust and direct moisture.

Besides, they look more lovely in a frame with a nice mat.

And if it is a Limited Edition print, then you definitely want it protected!

I prefer plexiglass or acrylic which is a lot more durable than glass. All it took was one glass pane to break with one of my original paintings. I was fortunate that the painting was not damaged!

I will never use glass again.

Regardless of the type of protective covering, there are some treatment options to improve both the viewing experience and its protective qualities.

Reduced glare

Reflections interfere with our ability to enjoy art.

Glass is the worst reflector, but it’s better than no protection at all.

Many plexiglass products come with a reduced-glare option. You may think it isn’t worth the extra cost, but you’ll thank yourself after you see it in action.

UV shielding

It’s a sad fact that long-term light exposure (among other things) damages art.

Ever notice how faded the Mona Lisa looks? It didn’t start out that way. Google “Mona Lisa faded” and check out the different images. You will see how digital retouched versions are so much more vibrant and colorful than the aged original that we know and love today.

So, do you have to keep your art hidden in a dark closet?

Of course not!

We need light to see our art, but thankfully there is a UV protection option that reduces the impact of light.

If you can afford it, invest in UV protection when selecting your plexiglass or acrylic upgrade. This will slow down the fading process of the pigment in your art.

If your frame came only with glass (most budget frames do), you can purchase acrylic sheets from any craft store like Michaels or online marketplace like Amazon at a reasonable price.

Be sure you get the 1/4 inch (3mm) thickness, because anything thinner will flex too much and can easily warp. These often come in packs of 2 or 4, so you can save a few bucks buying more than one.

And it goes without saying, but if I don’t then someone will make this mistake. Don’t hang your artwork where it will be exposed to direct sunlight. Because no amount of UV protection in your plexiglass will keep it from fading.

I’ll repeat. Direct sun = bad. Don’t do it!


What size? Just get the same size as your frame.

My next post will continue my Framing on a Budget series as "Part 2 - Mats protect and make art look better!"  Stay tuned!

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