How to frame a picture

As Tim Blake, a framing consultant at Darbyshire in London, puts it, ‘The frame is the stage and the artwork is the actor.’ With this in mind, Elizabeth Metcalfe asks the experts for their tips on choosing materials, mounts, glazing and scale.
Viola Lanari


  • Buy the best glass that you can afford. ‘Glass is the one element for which the extra money you spend does make a big difference,’ explains Beth Keegan of The Frame Library, SW18. She uses high-quality Tru Vue glass, which eliminates reflections. If you can, choose UV-protected, anti-reflective glass – also known as museum glass – as it provides the best protection for art. It is also quite resistant to scratches.
  • Always consider the size of your artwork when choosing glazing. Perspex can be good for larger pieces because it is so much lighter. ‘The quality of Perspex has greatly improved over the years, and it is now long-lasting and very hard to break,’ says Doug. ‘I recommend using it in children’s bedrooms for safety reasons.’ Bear in mind that it can scratch easily and does not always sit flat.


  • Choosing the width of a frame comes down to personal judgement, but it should be in proportion to the artwork. ‘You can create a dramatic effect by using a heavy frame on a small picture,’ says Doug.
  • For larger works, make sure that the frame is physically strong enough to support the artwork. ‘If you are framing a piece that is A1 or A2 in size, an 8mm wooden frame simply won’t last,’ says Tim. ‘Aluminium picture frames are strong and can be made incredibly thin, even for larger pieces. They can also be hand-lined in wood, if that is the preferred style.’

The House & Garden team’s tried and trusted framers

Offering a wide range of hand-cut mouldings and mounts, this firm also delivers great value for money.

This framer is known for its skilled workmanship and use of traditional techniques,
such as gilding and veneering.

P.R. Elletson, Wiltshire

With over 40 years’ experience, Philip Elletson creates bespoke frames ranging from the grand to the contemporary.

Having recently moved to Seven Sisters, this firm specialises in modern works. Its clients include the Serpentine Gallery.

With a second outpost in Surrey, this is something of an insider secret. It offers a fantastic range and high-quality service.

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