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Picture Frame Glazing: Know Your Options

picture frame glazing

Picture Frame Glazing: Know Your Options

Have you ever baked something using substitute ingredients? Some recipes are forgiving in their design, but others are not as forgiving. We’ve all learned the hard way that when a dessert calls for heavy cream, they mean heavy cream, not a mixture of melted butter and milk. Baking is a science, and while you may feel comfortable playing “mad scientist” with some recipes, we know certain breads and desserts will yield disastrous results with improper ingredients.

The same can be said about custom framing. There are certain works of art that can handle any frame and glass, and there are more precious pieces that deserve the real deal.

One of the more important aspects in custom framing is glazing. The glass or acrylic in a frame is your art’s first line of defense against everything it faces — light, dust, bugs, grease, moisture, etc. Regular glass, the type you get in a ready-made frame from a box store, is just glass that protects art from surface damage. Cheaper frames even use a lighter weight glass. Today, there are many types of picture frame glazing that both protect your art and add to the aesthetic of your framing design.

Types of Glazing

Just like your skin with sunscreen, your art needs glazing that will protect it from harmful UV rays. Conservation glazing is the standard in our studio. This glass has a coating that blocks up to 99% of UV rays that cause fading and other damage to photographs and art. Conservation glazing also comes in shatter resistant acrylic. This acrylic is a perfect choice for oversized art and pieces that require an extra layer of safety (i.e art in a public place).

In addition to protecting your art, glazing can enhance a frame design. Museum glass offers the same UV protection as conservation glass, and museum glass has minimal reflection. The artwork looks as though the frame doesn’t have any glass. This type of glazing is ideal on objects, textured pieces, or art that will hang in a space with tons of lighting. There are multiple types of museum acrylic that are used for the same reasons as conservation acrylic. Museum acrylic is commonly used in art museums on paintings. It offers a level of protection with no visual distraction.

While conservation and museum glazing are the two most popular types of glass, there are other types of picture frame glazing. Some types help with reflection control. Others help resist abrasions. Your framer will help you choose the perfect glazing for your piece. Whatever you choose, make sure the glazing has the UV coating.

Antique Glass

Antique glass has its own charms. Its ripples, air bubbles, and weight feel special. However gorgeous it may be, antique glass may not be right for your art. For starters, it doesn’t have the UV coating which could be essential for your antique art and photographs.

The glass could be damaged in non-obvious ways. A chip in picture framing glass can be a ticking time bomb. If the frame suffers from impact (small or large), the glass could crack. A constant shift in temperature or humidity could also cause a chip to crack. You may need to upgrade to a modern glazing option to fully protect your piece.

How to Clean Your Glass

Everyone has their favorite products and cleaning methods. If you’re the type of person to swipe your frames with a Swiffer duster, then we’re not here to judge. But if you’re interested in the correct way to clean your glass, then here are a few tips:

  • We recommend using a microfiber or any soft, lint-free cloth to clean your glass. 
  • Spray an ammonia-free cleaner on your cloth, not the picture frame. If you spray the glass directly, you run the risk of having liquid run under the glass. This can cause your image to stick to the glass or grow mold.
  • Some specialty glazing options require special cleaners (i.e. acrylic cleaner). Ask your framer if there are specific cleaning instructions and which products they recommend.

When it comes to custom framing, the materials you use matter. Picture frame glazing is an essential component to maintaining your art’s health. To learn more, check out our Guide to Custom Framing.