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Picture Framing Tips and Techniques

How to Determine Frame Size

By January 26, 2020November 3rd, 2021One Comment

How to Determine Frame Size

How to Determine Frame Size
When figuring how to determine frame size, take into account these considerations…


Frame Size

The frame size is always considered to be the size of the recess at the back of the frame that contains the glass, mat, art and backing you load into it. This recess is known as the “rabbet” of the frame. More about the rabbet

In most cases, the frame size conforms to what you load into it. So if you know the size of any of the items to load into it, you also know the size of the frame, and this is the size you will enter into the calculator in most cases. See the exceptions below.

Allowance (does not apply to floater frames)

Whenever a frame is built, the frame builder adds an “allowance” of 1/16 inch along each edge (or 1/8 inch on the height and the width) so the framing components can drop easily into the recess. You DO NOT need to figure this into your measurements. We will automatically add the allowance when we cut the frame for you. Enter only the size of the items you are loading into the frame into the calculator.

Size limitations

Please note that the website will not permit you to order custom sectional frames larger than 60″x60″. If you want larger frames, email us at [email protected] with your request.

Some examples:
You want to frame art under glass but without a mat

Measure the width and height of the art. This is what you enter into the calculator.

You want to frame art that is matted

Measure the overall size of the mat. This is what you enter into the calculator.

You want to frame art that is mounted on a backing board without a window mat

Measure the overall size of the backing board. This what you enter into the calculator.

Exception for floater frames

With floater frames it is different. Floater frames are cut to the size of the artwork unless otherwise specified. With standard floaters, to achieve the effect of the art floating within the walls of the frame, you must add 1/4″ to the width and height of the artwork when determining the frame size. This will give you a 1/8″ space between the edges of the artwork and the walls of the frame. With floaters, do not just enter the size of the artwork into the calculator or you will end up with too tight of a fit.  More on measuring floater frames.

Special considerations for shadowbox frames, collectibles and sports memorabilia

Figure the overall area you need to display the items, including adequate area around the items to make for a pleasant presentation and this will be your frame size.

Special considerations for mirrors

If you are framing a mirror to fit a given wall space, please understand that this is not how frames are typically measured and the measuring in this instance can be challenging. Note: you are responsible for measuring properly. Framing4Yourself will not do this measuring for you. Also be aware, custom frames are not returnable and will not be refunded if ordered incorrectly. Some advice: when measuring to fit a given wall space, you must add the width of the frame on each side to the overall width of the mirror and then subtract the lip of the frame on each side, usually 1/4″ on each side, and then add 1/8″ overall to have some wiggle room. Order a corner sample or chip of the frame to confirm the measurement of the lip. If in doubt, you may want to consult a professional framer who will do the measuring for you for a fee.

This is how to determine the frame size.

More on Basic Measuring for Picture Framing

Remember, Your Frame Will Come Unassembled – Here’s How You Assemble It

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