Types Of Picture Framing Glass

Most of the items you chose to frame need protection with either glass or acrylic, which is called glazing.

framing glassDifferent types of finishes of the glass can make the art look sharper, brighter, softer, or muted. The quality of the glass will also result in protection in a number of different ways.

Generally, paper and fabric artworks need protection from smoke, grease or other contaminants which can soil them. Other times items are old and fragile or may be easily damaged from unwanted touching, and we need to protect them. Another consideration of damage is light, both direct sunlight and from interior light sources.

There are many different types of glazing available to the consumer than has been available in the past.

Regular glass, which has a reflection, may be the most common one people are use to seeing, and is the type of glass which comes in ready-made frames. The drawback to this type of glass is if the artwork behind the glass is dark, the image becomes a mirror. If a lot of light is going to shine on this type of glass you cannot see because of the reflection. If the image is light and not much light hits the image than it is fine to use on inexpensive art reproductions, or photos that are going to be replaced frequently.

archival framing glassThe next common glazing people encounter is non-glare glass. It is non-reflective so the art can be seen even if the image is very dark or has a lot of light on it. One of the drawbacks to this glass is it has a non-reflective coating which blurs or mutes the image and thereby reduces the crispness of the image.

There are also glass options which are anti-reflective and have UV protection to them. They look almost invisible to the eye, give your art an optimal viewing, but the drawback is the cost factor, which is considerably more than regular glazing. Some items you chose to frame may not warrant the excess cost factor of these types of glazing, but on the other hand, when you consider the whole cost of the framing project, and the amount of time you will enjoy your piece, it can be worth the extra cost.

clothing framedConservation Glass and Acrylic is an important factor to consider when framing your fine artwork and items. Light is one of the most damaging things to art. It can ruin a beautiful piece of art much as the sun can damage human skin. Just to note, even glazing with a conservation value to it can only protect the art only so much, but it is still important to keep it out of the direct, harsh light.

When faced with the choice of glazing, there are a few guidelines I follow to help my customers to make the most informed decision for their personal needs.

  • First I consider the type of artwork being framed. Is it valuable? Not just from a monetary value, but is it irreplaceable, historic, or original?
  • Where will it hang, what are the light conditions, what time of the day is the room used?
  • I consider the type of artwork – are the colours bold, lines crisp and sharp or fine lines needed to be seen? If possible I would use a clear glass or anti-reflective glass to keep the art clearly visible.
  • Non-glare finishes work well if the image is soft and the colours are muted, works especially well on photos, and if the image is close to the glass.
  • If I am framing items especially in a shadowbox, I prefer to use anti-reflective or museum glass. In this situation, they are most likely collectables which need UV protection and I like the crispness this glass lends itself to, especially if the items are further from the glass and want no distortion or reflection issues to mar the overall effects of the display.
  • If the artwork is a document like a diploma or something which has original signatures, I will always suggest to use some type of UV protection in the glazing. I have seen documents which have hung in frames with no UV protection and the signatures have completely disappeared.
  • If your art is an original paper artwork or Limited Production print, I prefer to use glazing with a UV protection to retain the original value and keep the artwork in the best condition possible.
  • Most needle crafts should also have the added protection that UV glazing can give it. When you consider the number of hours that goes into in your art, keeping it in its optimal condition and protected for future generations to enjoy is important, and worth the extra cost.
  • Canvas is the only artwork which does not benefit from glazing. Canvas needs to breath and as usually has had some other type of coating applied to the paint to protect the artwork.