How To Know What Size Of Picture Frame You Need: A Full Guide

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By getting the perfect picture frame size, you’re able to better display your treasured pictures without the worry of degradation or damage. But finding a home for your group photos or your family photo goes beyond getting a standard picture frame – picture frame sizes differ depending on the size of your photo, whether you want to put a mat, and even if the picture mount can support a photo of that size. 

Before you purchase custom frames, you need to know what size of picture frames you would need for your photo. This guide will run you through common picture frame sizes, tips on picking the best picture frames, and measuring your photos for a perfect fit.  

How Do You Choose The Right Frame?

Having a wide variety of framed photos can make a big difference in your surroundings: they can function as decorative artwork, a way to fill in empty walls, or a potential canvas for more pictures in the future. The key here is getting a frame size that can work best with the photos that you have – even a simple frame can make a photo pop with the right design choice. 

picture frame size

There are several things that you need to consider when determining the exact size you need for your picture frame. A common mistake that many people make is to measure the dimensions of the entire picture, then use the nearest standard picture frame size for the framing. While this could work for most photos, there are a few exceptions that require a different way of measuring.

You may have photos that require a different print size, which can make standard picture frame sizes a poor fit. Plus, if you want to create wall art with your picture, a custom picture frame is a great way to make it stand out from its surroundings. However, that depends if you can pick the right frame for the job.

Here’s a quick guide to the things that you need to keep in mind when choosing a picture frame:

Photo Measurement vs. Frame Size  

If you get your picture processed at a photo studio, you’ll most likely get popular sizes for your prints like 2R, 6R, 8R, or 10R . If your photo or artwork doesn’t fit standard measurements, then you’ll have to make sure that the dimensions of your framed photo fit the size of your photo frame. Many photo studios offer resizing options, though they may also need to do processing work to make sure that the quality of the photo stays intact.

Frame Material

Picture frames are usually made out of wood or metal, though smaller picture frame sizes usually come with plastic. If your photos are smaller and you’re not looking for a large frame, you can choose your frame according to your design choices. Some frames also have art on them, which can further enhance your picture or make them fit better on your walls.

frame material

But if you’re looking for a bigger frame, you need to consider how heavy it’ll weigh. In general, the weight of wooden or metal frames will be far greater than plastics, but they generally hold up better to wear and tear, with a timeless look that can blend with most of the surrounding decor. If you’re looking to frame a large photo, it’s best to consider a plastic frame as it can be light yet sturdy to support the weight of your photo.

Surrounding Decor

Picture frames can either clash or stand out from your surrounding decor – and a lot of that has to do with your choices for the frame. If you want your picture frames to stand out from the rest (good for wall arts, centerpieces, and the like ) choose a frame that contrasts with the rest of the room. But if you want them to match, then choosing a neutral shade or color that fits with your decor works well.

Post-Processing

Sometimes your photos won’t always be in the size or quality that you want, which is where post-processing can help. This works for art pieces that don’t fit into standard size frames or photos that you want to resize, especially if you’ve managed to buy a frame before checking if it fits what you want to display.

Glass Material

Glass is more than a way to keep your framed photos free of dust – they can determine how well it holds up against fading, prevent them from being damaged after picture falling, or even make your photos look better under the right  lighting.  Glass is the most common material that you can get for picture frames, although you can substitute it with acrylic and plastic to reduce weight for larger displays.

Matting And Mounting

A “mat” refers to the border around a photo or a print – usually white borders, although other color options are widely available – that protects the photo from rubbing on the glass or glazing. Most people know it as the covering around canvas paintings, but mats are becoming increasingly common in

You can use mats in two ways: 

  • Frame the outside of your print to emphasize the subject
  • Make a smaller photo fit into a larger frame

Keep in mind that if you do the latter, you’ll need a mounting board to support your photo. You can consider a mount as the opposite of the mat – while the mat goes in front of the print, the mount goes behind and prevents the picture from warping. This can be accompanied by a backing board (usually made of canvas) so the picture is protected from environmental hazards. This also ensures that the photo is displayed from a level surface if it’s hanging from a wall.

There’s no hard-and-fast rule about the size of the matting, but remember that the bigger the mat, the more you emphasize the subject of your photo. This can work well if it’s a singular piece on your wall or table, but it can look awkward if it’s part of a larger artwork or series of frames.

Getting The Right Photo Measurements For The Perfect Frame

Measuring a whole picture isn’t just taking the dimensions of the edges. If you want to know how to know what size picture frame you need, then you need to learn how to measure the dimensions of your image. If you don’t double-check them before you buy your frames, the mat or the frame itself may overlap or cover areas of your picture.

  • You can get the measurements of your photo by doing the following:
  • Measure the width (horizontal, left to right), height (vertical, top to bottom) of your image.
  • Some pictures have a white border. You can keep this if you like, but most measurements usually ignore this as the matting will take its place.
  • Add at least one or one and a half inches to your measurements. This can help determine the size of your mount.

Most picture frames commercially available will measure them by their inside dimensions, or the space that starts from the inside edges of the frame. The external size (or the size of the entire frame) won’t matter too much unless you’re worried that it won’t fit with the rest of your home decor.

By making allowances for the size of your photos, you can make sure that you have options in case your first choices don’t work. For example, if your picture is too big for your initial frame, you can move to the next size before hanging it up.

What Sizes Do I Need?

A good rule of thumb to follow is to leave at least an inch to two inches of space between the edges of your photo and the frame itself, usually to leave space for the matting. Popular picture frame sizes usually accommodate this space, but if you want thick matting or a wider mount opening for bigger print size, you can choose a larger standard size frame so it can fit.

What Size Frame Do I Need For A 8 x 10 Print?

A good fit for an 8 x 10 picture is an 11 x 14 frame, as it gives you space for a border around your picture.If you’re looking for a larger mat to draw attention to the photo itself, you can choose a frame size of 11 x 17 and above. Just remember to not make the contrast between the mat and the photo too large. 

What Size Frame Do I Need For 8.5 x 11 Print?

8.5 x 11 prints also fit in 11 x 14 frames, but if you want to make sure that you have room for the photo, size up to 12 x 14. Most artwork that falls under this size usually requires mounting in the back of the frame to ensure that it doesn’t warp with exposure, so you’ll need a thicker and bigger frame to accommodate the space the mount needs.

What Size Frame Do I Need For an 11 x 14 Picture?

Safe sizes for 11 x 14 pictures range from 16 x 20 to 17 x 20, even if the photo has been resized to make it fit. The width of these frames make them suitable for larger mats. If you don’t want a large mat, 12 x 16 frames can also work.

What Size Frame Do I Need For 11 x 17 Print?

Similar to 11 x 14 photos, frames of 11 x 17 images are around 17 x 20, since they can accommodate the added width even with generous matting on the inside of the frames. However, the relatively large width of these frames may make them unsuitable for table mounting.

What Size Frame Do I Need For 12 x 16 Print?

12 x 16 prints can fit in frames of 13 x 17 to 16 x 20, depending on the matting. Because you have more versatility because the width and length of your photo is close to each other, you can choose frames that can accommodate wide or thin matting according to your preference. 

What Size Frame Do I Need For 12 x 18 Print?

In contrast to 12 x 16 prints, the width of a 12 x 18 print makes them more suitable for frames to 13 x 19 or larger. The matting required to support the entire width of your photo means that you also need to have a sufficiently large mount. 

What Size Frame Do I Need For 13 x 19 Print?

A 13 x 19 photo needs adequate space for a thick mount and a mat to prevent the photo from warping, so most experts recommend a 20 x 30 frame. However, a 16 x 20 frame can also work if you’re looking to save space. The larger frame size works particularly well for wall art or landscape displays.

What Size Frame Do I Need For A 16 x 20 Picture?

16 x 20 pictures need large frames to accommodate the width and mat required to support the photo, so sizes of 20 x 24 to 24 x 28 work well. This allows ample space for some matting, which can make a picture of that size really stand out on your wall.

What Size Frame Do I Need For 17 x 22 Print?

A 17 x 22 print needs bigger size frames like a 20 x 24, or a 24 x 28 if you’re looking for a bigger mat. If your photo is more along the lines of wall art (for example, an illustration or artwork) you can reduce the matting size to better draw attention to the details of the image.

Restore Your Family Photos And Other Pictures With The Image Restoration Center

There are plenty of factors that can influence your choosing the right picture frame size for your photos. Your home decor, the material of the frame, the detail of the pictures, and the size of the surrounding matting are factors that you should always keep in mind to ensure that your display doesn’t look out of place with the rest of its surroundings.

For images that aren’t in the best of shape or photos that need work on their image size, the first thing you should do is to bring it to a photo restoration center that can make it fit your photo frames. This gives you more options like adding artwork to your pictures, making improvements by changing its color gradation, or restoring faded areas.

Image Restoration Center can adjust, resize, and restore your pictures to fit them in the picture frames of your choice. We’ve been a trusted partner of many families around the country for our quality work and ease of transaction. If you’re looking for an expert for a picture-perfect framing job, contact us today!

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