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Many businesses these days pay their customers for positive and five star reviews.  That is their choice, of course, but it can be misleading.  There are many things that you can do to help you choose the best picture framer.



How to choose a reputable picture framer

It’s important to know that not all frame shops are alike, even if they look the same from the outside.  Dig a little deeper and find out exactly who is going to be working on your artwork.   You might be surprised to learn that your closest framer is not the best choice.

  1. Meet the framer who is going to be handling your artwork and notice their appearance.  What is your first impression?  Are they clean and tidy?

  2. Are their hands clean?

  3. Can you smell cigarette smoke, a well-known and harmful pollutant for humans and artworks alike?

  4. When discussing framing options, do they handle your artwork respectfully, or do you feel uncomfortable? Trust your instincts.

  5. Do they touch your artwork with their bare hands, or do they put on cotton gloves?

  6. Is their shop and workshop clean and tidy?

These are small details, but consider how they treat your artwork in front of you as a guide as to how it will be treated once you’re not there. All these things are good indications.


Questions to ask your framer

Are you a qualified picture framer?

Most people don’t know that framers can become qualified in their field.  A qualified picture framer has taken the time to study the handling of art and the many different techniques suitable for framing it.  The range of artworks, different types of media, textiles and associated framing techniques are many and varied. There is no such thing as “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to framing.

The easiest way to know if your framer is qualified is to look for the post-nominals after their name on their business card –

  • MCPF (Master Certified Picture Framer, PPFA)

  • CPF (Certified Picture Framer, PPFA)

  • CGF (Certified Guild Framer, PFGV)

  • GCF (Guild Certified Framer, FATG)


You can rest assured that these framers will care for your artwork and frame it correctly.

BEWARE: Do not be deceived by Guild Memberships. If a framer tells you that they are a member of a guild, and they point to a certificate of membership on their wall or decal on their window, that DOES NOT mean that they are qualified.

It means that they have paid an annual fee to become a member of the guild, and have received the certificate of membership and decal in exchange for the payment.

Other things to look for:

  • Have a look at the back of other works of art in the store. Has the framer used MDF (brown wooden backing) in many of the framed pieces? If they have, it’s a pretty good indication that using this highly acidic product has become a part of their framing “habit”.

  • Check the weight of the finished frames in the store. If the backs of the frames are covered with brown paper, you might not be able to see whether MDF has been used or not.  If the frames feel unusually heavy for their size, there is a very good chance that a wood backing, such as MDF or Masonite has been used.

  • Ask to see finished frames they might have made for other customers.  Check the weight, but also take note of the thickness (depth) of the frame.  Needlework frames done correctly, for example, are often quite deep, because of the many layers inside -  the glass, matboard(s), needlework stretched over 3mm or 5mm foam board and a backing board. If a needlework frame is thin, the needlework has probably been glued or stapled flat onto a backing board. Lacing and pinning are not flat processes.

  • Is there a nice space between the artwork and the glazing product, or is the artwork sandwiched up against the glass?  Artworks should never be sandwiched up against glass, there should always be a spacer.  

  • Have they used a quality wire hanger with D-rings on the back of the frame, or have they stapled a piece of white cord to use as a hanger?  This is another good indication as to whether or not your finished frame will be a quality product or not.  

  • Are there cardboard corners hiding the corners of the frames?  Ask to see the joins of the frames.  Are they tight and without gaps or twists?


The price of framing

The price quoted for your framed artwork is another great way to tell whether or not your artwork will be preserved for future generations.

You could take your artwork to one framer, choose exactly the same coloured matboards and frame, and they might quote, for example, $100.  Take it to the next framer, and the quote could be $400.  Are you getting exactly the same product? The answer is “Probably not”.  The difference between the two is most likely the unseen; and all the things I’ve mentioned above.​

What's inside your picture frame?

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