Framing Basics: Choosing the Right Glazing

8th Aug 2016

When you are in a profession that involves framing (such as photography or interior decorating), the details of the picture frames should not be overlooked. Aside from the design, color and overall appearance of the picture frame, you also need to consider what type of glass you would want to use.

For antique glass picture frames, a classic look often combines the elaborate design of the molding with the domed glass. These can be used for antique portraits. However, for other types of picture frames, flat glazing is what is usually used.

Sadly, most forget about the considerations they should have for flat glazing. But for the professional, attention to details like this tells your clients that you are the one they should work with. The right choice of glazing can make an impact on the longevity and overall look of any framed work. Glazing serves to protect the framed photo or artwork from damaging elements such as dust, harmful UV rays, pollution and moisture.

Here are some considerations when choosing the right glazing for your picture frames:

  • Cost. Ordinary glass (especially one without specialized protective properties) is way cheaper than acrylic. Cost can be an important consideration, especially if you are dealing with clients that are on a budget.
  • The overall weight of the frame vs. risk of breakage. Ordinary glass is heavier than acrylic. If you plan on using ordinary glass, make sure that the frame’s molding width is thick enough and the structure is strong enough to provide support not just for the glazing but also for the overall weight of the frame. Also, the heavy weight may compromise your hanging mechanism and increase the probability of the frame falling. Consequently, ordinary glass easily breaks and may cause damage to the framed artwork or photo. On the other hand, acrylic is shatter resistant and its light weight can minimize the possibility of the frame’s falling.
  • Ease of maintenance. Glass is more resistant to scratching and is thus easier to clean. Acrylic will need soft cleaning cloths and gentle cleaners to prevent scratching. Once acrylic is scratched, it will be almost impossible to bring it back to its previous appearance.
  • Visual clarity. Glass has near-invisibility properties and provides a high level of visual clarity so that the viewer can see the artwork in its full color. There are some specialized glazing that come with anti-glare and anti-reflective properties that also give an added level of visual clarity to the glazing. Of course, these are more expensive that ordinary glass or acrylic.
  • Archival protection. Glass and acrylic can both protect the frame from damage caused by dust, grime and the curious hands of toddlers. But there is one other factor that has more potential for damage – light. The light from the sun contains harmful UV rays that can cause a picture or artwork to fade or become discolored. The light can also weaken the fabric or paper so that it becomes brittle. Artificial light may also hold the same risks but in lower doses. Over time, the framed piece will suffer from damage unless you make use of UV protective glass. This type of glass prevents the entry of UV rays to minimize the possibility of damage.