Why does custom framing cost more than ready-made picture frames?

picture framing

We work with our clients to carefully understand their artwork and project scope.

SF Framing receives this question often from clients who visit our Sunnyvale store and we are more than happy to help them determine the best framing method based on their personal needs. Ready-made frames are mass produced in standard sizes using low cost, often less durable materials, while custom framing is designed and crafted to meet each client’s unique specifications, using frame styles, colors and long lasting materials best suited to display, preserve and protect artwork for many years to come.

Carefully We Proceed!

When we begin to help our clients, we work with them to understand the artwork medium, carefully measure the artwork size and determine the overall level of conservation that is desired. Based on these factors, we help our clients determine if a ready-made or custom-made frame option is best for them.

picture framing materials

The framer carefully chooses each component of a custom picture frame individually.

Custom framing costs more than ready-made picture frames because the framer carefully chooses each component of a custom picture frame individually, and every aspect of the framing project can be customized in many ways. The choice begins with the frame molding, which can be wood, metal, metal clad wood, and extends to the matting, glazing, backing, and hardware. Glazing can be purchased in several varieties including conversation (ultra-violet light blocking), anti-glare, museum glass and acrylic. The backing materials, which are the materials that the artwork is mounted on, are available in acid-free foam core and Mountcore neutral pH mounting board. As for matting, not only are there hundreds of colors, acid free materials and conservation grades to choose from, but a custom framing project can use two or more mats to give a truly distinctive look.

You Get What You Pay For… And We Believe You Will Love It!

Since custom made frames are made to a client’s unique specifications, custom frames are more expensive than ready-made frames and often require a week or more to make. Also, since every component needs to be selected individually, the dedicated time required to design and build a custom picture frame package is unique to each project – it can easily take up to an hour or more to complete the whole process.

Exactly How To Hang Your Art After Framing!

Hanging Artwork by SF Framing Sunnyvale

Newly hung framed artwork by SF Framing.

After you receive your newly framed art from SF Framing, properly hanging the piece can be a challenge for many. If you are the type of person who wonders where you should hang your piece relative to furniture, what the proper position on the wall should be, and how to best secure your art to the wall… you are not alone!

The Eyes Have It!

As a general rule, framed art should be hung at eye level. But of course eye level varies from person to person. On top of that, you are probably wondering exactly what part of the picture is supposed to be eye level, the focal point of the art, the middle of the picture, or the top edge of the frame? If you are hanging your framed art in a public space in the United States, take into account the average height of the population is approximately 5 feet, 7 inches (170 cm). In this case, we recommend the focal point of the art (the part of the art that the viewer’s eye will discover first) should be approximately 5 feet (183 cm) above the floor.

Location, Location, Location!

Your next challenge will be to determine exactly where on a wall you might want to hang something. It isn’t difficult if you know you want to hang your art in the center of the wall; all you have to do is measure the width of the wall and divide it in half. However, if you want to hang your art in an open space between two existing pictures or between wall elements, you will have a choice of how you could approach it. Either measure the space between elements and divide it in half, or set the frame on the floor against the wall below where you’re considering hanging it and step back to get a feel for the positioning, and then measure up from the floor at that point to 5 feet and make a vertical mark in pencil on the wall.
When you are hanging art relative to furniture or to an architectural element like a fireplace mantle or a sofa, you will want to have the bottom edge of the framed art approximately 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) above a mantle or sofa regardless of ceiling height.

Picture Hangers

Picture Framing Hangers come in many shapes and sizes.

Hanging Around

Now that you know where you want your art to be positioned, your next task will be to determine where the hangers will go. Most framed art from SF Framing come with secure hanging wires in back of them. To hang these most efficiently, we recommend you ask a trusted friend to hold the framed art against the wall with the focal point at eye level. While they are doing this, make a very light pencil line on the wall at the bottom of the frame. Then set the framed art down and measure the distance from the bottom of the frame to the hanging wire. If, for example, it’s 18 inches (46 cm) from the bottom of the frame to the hanging wire, you will want to measure up 18 inches (46 cm) from the mark on the wall that indicates the bottom of the frame – that’s where the hanger will go! Of course, many people prefer to hang art using two hangers – specifically to help keep the frame level and very secure. To place two hangers, measure the width of the frame and divide it by four to get the distance from the center point to where the hangers will go. For example, if the frame is 40 inches (102 cm) wide, each hanger should be about 10 inches (25 cm) from the center point. To locate the position of each hanger you’ll need a carpenter’s level and a yardstick (or a center finding ruler often found at many local hardware stores). Place the yardstick at the hanger mark and place the level on top of it. Measure out from the center point, staying level, and make cross-hair marks on the wall. The distance from the bottom of the hangers (where the wire will actually attach) and the top of the hangers (where the nail will be driven) is typically one inch (2.54 cm). You can measure up one inch (2.54 cm) and make another mark above the crosshair mark, or you can simply place the bottom of the hook at the crosshair mark and drive the nail through the hole at the top of each hook. Lift the framed art and arrange the wire over the hooks. Then place the carpenter’s level on top of the frame and adjust it until its level.

Well Rewarded

When you have completed hanging your newly framed art, it is time to stand back and take a look at what you have accomplished. We are confident that you will like what you see, and will find many years of enjoyment from the work you have completed. When you choose to work with the professionals at SF Framing, you can be assured we will strive to provide you with the very best mounting, framing and hanging experience available today.

How is my artwork mounted and held securely in place?

What many “big box” and “chain store” framers call their “proven method” of mounting artwork is actually a procedure developed decades ago to mount processed photographs, lithographs, posters and other types of images popular at the time. This old-technology and the dry mounting materials used were once acceptable, but the heat and mounting time required in this old process can cause serious problems to contemporary images. Even if no damage is immediately apparent, the acid exposure, higher heat and longer mounting time of old mounting methods can alter the ink chemistry enough to create or accelerate color shift, bubbling and/or fading over time – potentially damaging your artwork.

Serigraphs, lithographs, monoprints and fine art are commonly mounted using a hinged tape method that dries out over time and can release the artwork from its original position. To prevent this from happing today, SF framing now uses an acid free four corner mounting method that secures the artwork for a lifetime.

Secure monting process.

New permanent mounting process used by SF Framing.

Recognizing new digital imaging technologies have been rapidly replacing older-technology image types, SF Framing now mounts all digital prints, inkjet, giclee, laminated charts and maps, posters and prints using a new high tech dry mounting adhesive process called Gilman MountCor. This new permanent adhesive process protects virtually all modern art images using low temperatures and fast mounting times to ensure your art is mounted safely and cleanly using a pH neutral and particle free process.

When you choose to work with the professionals at SF Framing, you can be assured we only use high quality materials, modern equipment and state-of-the-art procedures to provide you with the very best mounting and framing experience available today.

Choosing your Custom Picture Framing Material is Important!

NOT All Custom Picture Frames Are Created Equal… Choose Carefully!

Throughout history, frames have been made with varying techniques and inconsistent materials. As surprising as this might seem, this inconsistency has lead to the unintended deterioration or unanticipated destruction of many a collectible or family heirloom. Of the many elements to consider in determining how to best frame art, the one that is often most overlooked is the actual framing material chosen – yet the framing material is the most important element to consider carefully. With the confusing array of picture framing materials available to you at the ‘big box’ stores, you might ask yourself, “What picture framing material should I choose?” Before considering the framing material you would like to use, be sure to understand the various factors that are most important to you by answering these questions:

1. Preservation: Is the art piece you wish to frame, something that you would like to preserve for a long time?
2. Structural Integrity: Do you wish the frame to maintain its structural integrity over time (e.g. keep corners tight, etc.) despite frequent moves, sunlight exposure, etc.
3. Visual Aesthetics: What image do you wish your frame to portray? Is the color and/or texture of the frame appropriate for the environment where it will be displayed?
4. Environment: Are you interested in ensuring your frame is produced with environmentally friendly materials?
5. Health: Do you wish the frame to be free of potentially harmful chemicals which could potentially affect your household’s health?

SF Framing picture framing sunnyvale

Picture frame materials can vary – choose carefully to get the best results!

By carefully considering these factors, you will help yourself get a better idea of the picture framing material that will be perfect for you. SF Framing can then provide you with the added guidance to help you determine the best frame material to use from those available to you by showing you these options:

1. Plastic
2. MDF (Medium Density Fiber / Composite)
3. Photographic (soft wood backer with a thin photographic skin)
4. Veneer (soft wood backer with a thin layer of a premium wood finish)
5. Metal (aluminum, steel, etc.)
6. Solid hardwood

By choosing the most appropriate material to custom frame any piece of art, you will not only help preserve it, but you will ensure your framed art is greatly enhanced by the perfect framing material you have chosen.

custom picture framing acrylic glass museum conservation SF Framing Sunnyvale

When should I choose glass or acrylic to cover my artwork?

Most people are familiar with the use of moulding and matting when it comes to custom framing, however, many are unaware of the importance of glazing when it comes to the protection and beauty of their framed piece. This is understandable as you might even ask yourself, what is “glazing”? Glazing is the protective covering used in picture framing – it refers to either acrylic or glass. It’s understandable when people wonder if they should cover their artwork with glass, acrylic or nothing at all.

The glazing you choose can be extremely important as glazing will help protect your cherished artwork, family photos, or any object you wish to have framed. We know that when you come to SF Framing to custom frame, it is because the piece you are framing is important to you, and the project you bring to us is something you want to enjoy for a long time to come. The following are our recommendations for you:

We generally do not recommend glazing over oils, acrylic and giclee paintings.

Acrylic is preferable for the majority of artwork. It is both lighter than glass and shatterproof – important factors to consider in regions plagued with earthquakes and for pieces larger than 36 inches x 48 inches. An exception is pastels, since acrylic’s static charge can attract fine chalk particles from the artwork. In this case, glass is often substituted.

Whether you choose glass or acrylic glazing, when you have something that you want to preserve from the effects of damaging ultraviolet (UV) light, we recommend the glazing material chosen be treated with a special coating to keep out damaging UV light. This is often called “Museum” acrylic or glass – which is more expensive than standard acrylic or glass. A new economical anti-reflective, UV protective glass is now available from SF Framing to help reduce the cost of preserving your piece.

Always ask your SF Framing design consultant about the best glazing choices available for your treasured artwork.

Acid or Acid-Free Matting?

There are two types of mat material: acidic, and “acid-free” (neutral pH). Most old mats are typically acidic, because acid-free paper was not widely available until very recently. While most newer mats are acid-free, there are some that are not neutral pH and may still contain acid.

The difference between acidic and acid-free matting is important for the long term protection of your piece because acidic mats can cause what is called “mat burn”, brown or yellow marks on the beveled edge of the mat and the displayed piece itself. While mat burn is sometimes reversible through cleaning the piece, cleaning may not be feasible. Always ask your SF Framing design consultant about the acid content of any mat if the desired life of the piece being framed is more than 75 years.

Welcome to Our New Updated Site

OK, we’re officially gushing! You’ll have to forgive us.

We’re proud to unveil our new website and blog. You’ll want to bookmark this site and visit our blog often. In addition to keeping you updated with the latest coupons and offers, we’ll be sharing Before and After photos from our favorite projects, and letting you know about the latest advancements in framing.

Michelle browsingMatt & Michelle 310_EcocarePlease take some time to visit our site and get to know us better. Download your coupon and say hello to us on Twitter!

We’re here to serve you, so let us know if you have any comments, questions or concerns by leaving a comment below. Looking forward to seeing you inside our store soon!