Here's how to buy a frame that fits.
Here at Custom Picture Frames, we’re trying to bridge the gap between the store-bought frames that are often generic and boring and the sticker shock of custom framing to make high-quality framing accessible to all! Before you start customizing the frame of your dreams, here’s what you need to know about the process.
Frame dimensions explained
The dimension of a picture frame isn't merely one thing. You might think of inside and outside measurements. Moulding and mat dimensions are essential, especially when hanging art in tight spaces. You’re not the only one who has questions about frame dimensions. Here are some of the answers to our most common questions!
Measuring for a frame
When asking you to input the size of the frame, we’re always asking for the inside dimensions. For example, if you have a 6 inch by 8 inch image, you will want to order a 6 inch by 8 inch frame. Although consumers often believe the stated dimensions on a frame are the width and height of its outside edges, typically they refer to the size of the artwork opening. You should order a 4x6 frame regardless of how much bigger than the frame from outside to outer edge. One thing you should be aware of is that some frame styles will overlap the edges of an image more than others. Typically this will be ¼ inch or less. Our frames are cut slightly larger than the inputted artwork opening dimensions to allow for a ⅛ inch tolerance all-around. This is to help us accommodate for acrylic, your artwork, backing, and matting for a comfortable, not-too-snug, fit.
Measuring a mat
When ordering a mat, the artwork should sit centered below the mat, so there needs to be a slight overlap between the opening and the image to cover the edges. Adding a mat will increase the overall dimensions of your frame. Generally, a standard mat will produce a 2 inch border the artwork. For example, a 5x8 image would take a 9x12 mat. The outer measurements of the mat will be the inner opening dimensions of the frame. When adding double or triple mats, the typical reveal, or the amount of the middle or bottom mats that show beneath the top mat is ¼ inch. However, this reveal and the top mat border can be customized to meet your design preferences. As you customize your mat, our software will automatically update the overall dimensions of your frame. This is especially helpful for welcoming your new custom frame into your space.
Size of artwork
The image size is not the same as the paper’s size unless the image bleeds to the edge. For example, the printable area for 8.5x11 inch paper is usually 8x10 so that a border is left that will be obscured by the framing material. When entering your artwork’s size, you should be entering the size of the artwork you would like to be viewable. If you are not adding a mat to your frame, you will have to trim the paper border on your art print. If you are adding a mat, no need for trimming; the mat will cover the border.
Using a mat
Our frames that include a mat will overlap the image by about a quarter of an inch. For example, an 8x10 picture frame will have a mat with an opening of 7.75x9.75. You don’t have to add a mat to your custom frame but mats help press the image flat against the backing and avoid curling, resulting from prolonged exposure to heat.
Outside frame size
This dimension defines the outer edge of the frame. The only times you'll be concerned with these dimensions are when you have a tight fit or there’s a certain amount of space available between other art on your wall. The outside frame size will vary moulding to moulding because the widths varies on different types of frames.
This measurement is vital for understanding the depth of the frame. Rabbet depth is the amount of space inside the frame to accommodate your artwork package. Typically, the acrylic and backing take up ¼" of the listed rabbet depth for a frame so you should substract ¼" off the rabbet get the usable depth. This is especially important when considering a shadowbox frame for 3-dimensional objects or keepsake and canvas frames when framing a stretched canvas.