How to Frame a Large Picture Cheaply

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You painted a large (24 inch by 36 inch, or more) canvas, or someone gave you a large painting without a frame, or you have a large print you want to hang on the wall. You want to frame the attractive picture to set it off nicely, rather than hang it on the wall with no frame. However, you discover (as you will) that large picture frames are expensive. This article will help you frame the picture at a price you are willing to spend.

Things You'll Need

  • A large picture needing to be framed
  • A fixed budget you want to spend
  • Willingness to take some time to find the best frame at the best price
  • PREPARATION

    Before you go shopping, look around the room where the picture will hang. You need to note the color tones of the walls, furniture, and decorations in the room. Consider these (and possibly take photos), as well as the style and coloring of your picture when picking out the frame. You may want to match or contrast based on the current contents of the room.

  • METAL OR WOOD. Decide whether you want a wood or metal frame. After doing some shopping and getting prices, decide if you want to make the frame yourself or buy one.

  • METAL FRAMES are almost always cheaper.

    a. You can take the picture to a frame store (or the framing section of a crafts store) and get an estimate. You should consider taking the picture to several stores before making a decision, as styles and prices vary. If the picture is too large to carry around easily, you might want to take some photos of it to help you decide what you might like, before bringing the actual picture to be framed.

    b. Check a few thrift stores to see if they are selling any metal frames that will fit your picture. It is best to go shopping at these stores after you have determined the price of having someone frame the picture, or of buying a kit to frame it, because if you find the item you want in a thrift store it is best to buy it right away. These are usually one of a kind items, so if it sells while you are gone there probably won't be another one available. Usually the frames are sold with pictures in them, but if the picture is an old faded poster, for example, the store will probably sell it for a very good price.

    c. Consider building your own. Before ordering the frame, however, you might want to look at kits you can put together yourself. You buy one kit for the length and one kit for the width. These kits are very easy to put together and will almost always be cheaper than having a metal frame put on the picture by someone else.

  • WOOD FRAMES are often desirable if you want a warm look or have furniture that is not obviously modern in style.

    a. You can take the picture to a frame store (or the framing section of a crafts store). You can get the framer to help you pick a wood frame that is reasonable in price. Frames vary widely in cost depending on the type of wood used, the finishing, and any decorative elements. Because of this, you should consider taking the picture to several stores before making a decision. If the picture is too large to carry around easily, you might want to take some photos of it to help you decide what you might like, before bringing the actual picture to be framed.

    b. Before ordering a custom made frame, however, you might want to ask to see some pre made frames. Many frame shops carry a limited number of pre made styles and sizes. The selection is usually small but there can be a significant price difference from having a frame made specifically for your picture. Also the store may give an extra heavy discount if the frame is slightly damaged. Some such frames may be marked "As is", but even the full price pre made frames sometimes have small defects that you can point out to help you negotiate a further discount. I bought an inexpensive pre made frame with a very minor defect less than 1/2 inch long that got me a 50% discount (see photo).

    c. As with the metal frames, you might want to check out some thrift stores for available used wood frames after you have finished pricing other options. These frames may have scratches or nicks that you can fix easily if you wish. Be careful not to buy a frame with more cosmetic or structural damage than you are willing and able to fix yourself! If the frame comes with a picture, remember that you are going to want to discard or sell that picture. You can probably buy a used woo frame for a good price, especially if the picture in the frame is cheap looking or faded.

    d. Consider building your own. There are a number of websites that offer free plans for making frames. Check some of these to see if you have or can borrow the tools you will need, and also if the plan is simple enough that you feel confident trying it.

  • ENJOY YOUR PICTURE, and feel proud of what you have accomplished!

Tips & Warnings

  • Take your time to find the best bargain before you buy!

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