How to Frame Artwork for Less!

Get the hang of doing it yourself and save hundreds of dollars.  


1. Select a frame

You might be surprised how easily the wrong frame can change—and even ruin—the way you look at a piece of art. Thin, simple frames flatter modern works and are also the best choice for hanging multiple works on one wall. Ornate frames go well with traditional pieces, but let your eye be the final judge. Whether you're purchasing a new frame or using one you snagged at a garage sale, be sure the joints are tight. The fasteners on the back help prevent the art from slipping, so make certain they are secure. Quality counts!

2. Choose a mat

A good rule is to select a mat that shows at least a 2-inch border for smaller prints (11" × 14" or less) and 3 inches or more for larger ones. The most economical approach is to buy a frame that comes with a mat, but precut mats can be bought separately at art supply stores for as little as $2 for 8" × 10". If the artwork you want to display isn't a standard size (9" × 12", for instance), take it and the frame to an art store or framing shop and have a mat custom-cut. Prices start at around $15 but go much higher with larger pieces.

3. Mount it!

Cut two inch-long strips of acid-free hinging tape ($5; at art supply stores). Position mat over the art, then carefully lay both on a table, right side down. Attach strips of tape vertically to the top edges of art, just in from each corner (half on mat, half on art). Check the art's placement and adjust if necessary. Cut two more inch-long strips of tape and affix horizontally on the mat, over the first pieces of tape to form two T's. (The art will hang free on the bottom.) Place the piece in its frame. Reinstall the backing and it's ready to hang.