I recently purchased 7 A3 prints from my good friend, in order to liven up my house. However, having not thought this through, I am unsure how to best frame them?

I do not wish for the quality of the print to degrade quickly. Is it preferential to use glass in my frame? Are there any hazards that a newbie such as I will overlook?

My prints are backed on some sort of thin textured card. They are posters, although I am unsure how the art prints have been applied to the card. The prints will likely be situated away from direct sunlight.

  • 1
    Could you add some detail (edit the post) about the prints. What sort of paper are the prints on, are they photo or poster? Also, maybe add some detail about whether they are likely to be situated where they will be in direct sunlight?
    – BeaglesEnd
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 14:42
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    On top of what BeaglesEnd is asking I'm concerned about how broad this appears. There are oodles of framing options. Are you looking to make custom frames and with what materials? or advice on purchasing frames? What is the criteria you are trying to consider when acquiring frames? Are the prints removable from the back board?
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 15:02
  • Focusing this on whether you do or don't need glass in the frames in order to help protect from fading may be the way to go -- as well as adding some detail per the above comments!
    – Erica
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 15:17
  • Even knowing how they were printed... some individuals have the posters printed on industrial-style four-color machines and other people use professional laser-jet printers...
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 16:00

3 Answers 3


I worked in a frame shop for several years and there are a few different ways to go about it, but some general guidelines...

You don't want prints to be touching the glass. You should either mat them, or make sure to request that the framer put in spacers. Spacers are just little pieces of plastic that sit between the glass and the picture. They are completely invisible in the finished product and you won't even know they're there.

If you need to use backing on top of the board behind the prints or want to use mats, make sure you only use acid-free or archival quality materials. Things like regular paper mats will give the print's edges a yellowish tint and make the paper more brittle. Any frame shop you go to should sell acid-free materials, even the cheaper chain ones like Michael's and Hobby Lobby.

UV resistant glass is a good option. Even if it's not in direct sunlight, if you really want to protect the prints (and have the option of moving them to other places in the future) it does help preserve the ink.

You should also steer clear of buying any premade frames. They're typically made out of very cheap materials, most of which an actual frame shop would never even use.

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    I think that it's a bit unfair to discourage all premade frames. We use a very reputable framing shop that is also an art supplies store and they sell a wide range of premade frames. They often recommend replacing the glass but there's nothing wrong with the frames and, particularly for a poster-sized frame, going premade can save you $100+.
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 13:04
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    Why should prints not touch the glass?
    – user812786
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 13:14
  • @ Catija - I am discouraging premade frames based on the OP's request. He wants to preserve the work. Ready made frames always have paper mats (when they're included), never include spacers, never include UV resistant glass, and are typically made out of flimsier material than custom frames. Custom frames are more expensive, but there's a reason for that. I agree with you though, ready-made frames are a much better deal. I personally use them for my photography.
    – DawnPatrol
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 6:03
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    @whrrgarbl "The reason that this airspace is very important is that it can help in the prevention of the growth of mold, it can reduce the risk that the paper will buckle and crinkle, it will eliminate the chance of image transfer, and it will stop the artwork from actually adhering to the glazing of the frame." Mats work just as well as spacers for this purpose though. You can read more about spacers here: americanframe.com/departments/picture-framing-accessories/…
    – DawnPatrol
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 6:05
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    @user812786 - Contact with the glass, through condensation causing adhesion or just plain friction, could easily damage the artwork,
    – rebusB
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 21:27

You might want to laminate your sheets before framing them. This basically means encasing them in a very thin layer of transparent plastic film, which protects the paper from damage without reducing the visibility of the pictures.

demonstrative picture

You should be able to get this done quite cheaply at most stationery stores (example). Alternatively, if you think you might be doing a lot of lamination, you can buy a laminating machine - which is actually rather less expensive than I was expecting - to do it for you.

I would recommend laminating rather than glass for framing ordinary paper, simply because it's so thin and glass seems like overkill. The plastic normally goes beyond the edges of the paper, so you have something to clip the frame onto without obscuring any of the painting. For how to secure the laminated poster to the frame, see this question on another Stack Exchange site.

As Catija notes, this process is permanent: you won't be able to unlaminate paper after you've laminated it. Something to bear in mind when deciding whether or not this is what you want to do.

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    The problem with lamination is that it is destructive. Generally you can't un-laminate paper.
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 15:19
  • @Catija Not necessarily a problem; it sounds like the OP wants to have these pictures up permanently. I'll edit though. Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 15:21
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    The problem is that the lamination isn't necessarily going to be permanent... moisture can get between the layers and degrade the art and the lamination can fall apart over time. If they're cheap posters that the OP just wants for a couple/few years, lamination is a great, cheap solution but if the hope is to keep these for decades, it may not be a good option. Not a bad answer, just depends on what the intent is!
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 15:24
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    also, if you make a small mistake laminating, you'll get ugly air bubbles trapped over the picture. They are about impossible to remove and simply spoil the whole piece.
    – SF.
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 9:22
  • Not a good idea for archival purposes. If these are collectable you will destroy their value... if not you run the risk of destroying the artwork anyway, almost guaranteeing it in the long term.
    – rebusB
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 21:44

Personally, for prints, I'd recommend clip frames.

enter image description here

They look neat, don't draw attention away from the piece, they are easy to use (you can easily do the framing yourself), easy to clean/maintain, and they are quite inexpensive. They don't offer exceptional protection, but if these are just decorative prints, and not some expensive art pieces you want to pass as heritage to your descendants, the lifetime of ~20 years should be aplenty.

You can either go with ones that match the print size exactly, or somewhat bigger ones - in that case add a layer of white or colored paper as a mat.

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