Discover the different types of picture frames that vary in shapes, materials, features, displays, textures, and picture capacity. Knowing these variations will help you choose the best picture frame to complement not just your photos and mementos but also your entire home decor.
Picture frames first existed in Egypt in AD 50-70 and were found in an Egyptian tomb. The hand-carved wooden frames that we can recognize as such were first developed in the 12th to 13th centuries. Just like many frames today, the early versions were made of wood.
While we use picture frames today to complement the photograph, artwork, and other mementos, picture frames in the past were first considered before considering the object it was going to frame.
Standard Picture Frame Sizes Chart
1. Shadow Box
Source: Home Depot
These picture frames are deeper than typical frames, allowing you to easily store and display more than just photographs. Depending on what you want to display, you can buy very deep shadow boxes that are perfect for sports memorabilia, buttons, or even badges and pins. Make sure that the shadow box you choose is deep enough so that your items aren’t being pushed up against the glass when they are on display.
Instead of being plain, decorative frames have pictures, sayings, and even sometimes 3D elements on them that will make the frame really pop. It is fun to find a decorative frame that fits with the theme of the picture that you are going to display as this makes the picture and frame appear to be a cohesive unit that you’re displaying. With so many decorative frames to choose from, you can easily buy one that will match the hobbies or interests of the person you’re giving it to.
Standard frames are going to look great in any home or office. They are generally plain and a solid color so they do not detract from the picture that is being displayed. These frames come in a number of sizes and shapes and aren’t just plain black or silver. They can be found in bright colors as well, which makes it fun to mix and match while decorating. Even brighter frames won’t shift the focus from the photograph or art being displayed and can be used to actually help elements of it pop.
Instead of making the photograph look as if it is held in place by the frame, when you buy floating picture frames, you will enjoy an optical illusion of the picture actually floating on the wall. This is because it is sandwiched tightly between two pieces of glass that allow you to see through the picture frame to the photograph or art displayed. This is a great choice if you really want to set off the art you’re displaying and if the color of your wall looks great with it as any imperfections in the wall will be instantly visible behind a floating frame.
There’s no reason why you can only display one photograph at a time and when you opt for a collage frame, you can easily put together a number of pictures that match the overall theme. This is a great way to display memories from an event or photoshoot as all of the pictures will have a common theme and will look amazing when displayed together. With a collage frame, you no longer need to choose the best picture to display as you can easily surround yourself with all of your favorites.
If you buy a picture that is larger than normal or a poster and want to hang it on the wall, then you have a few choices. While some people will simply stick the poster onto the wall with glue or tape, a much better option is a poster-size picture frame. Not only does this make the poster look more finished and high-quality but it is much less likely to accidentally damage your walls in the process. They often come with different width frames, making it easy to choose one that will set off your poster and make it pop.
Any time that you have a special document that you want to be framed, then you will need to look for a document frame. These are perfect because they are the right size for the paper that you want to frame and come in very classic colors and styles. It is almost impossible to buy one that won’t look great in any room or office, no matter what document you have inside it.
These picture frames have become more popular and affordable in recent years. It’s very easy to showcase a number of digital pictures in these frames. Some have a place where you can insert the memory card from your camera while others have enough of their own memory and space so that users can upload the pictures that they want to see. You can use them to either display one picture all of the time or scroll through the uploaded pictures, depending on what you want to see.
Hanging frames come with the attached hardware that you will need to hang your picture on the wall. They make it very easy to install a gallery wall or simply to hang up one or two select photographs. It is possible to turn a tabletop picture frame into one that can be hung on the wall if you use the right hardware but it is much easier to simply buy the kind that you want from the beginning. This eliminates any hassle of trying to convert the picture frame and ensures that it will be stable and steady enough to not accidentally come off of the wall.
These picture frames have a piece in the back that will pop out and allow the frame to stand upright on a table. This makes them perfect for when you want to display your photographs out in the open, on a side table, or on top of a chest of drawers. They are not ideal for hanging on the wall as the piece in the back will make it almost impossible for the frame to hang flush against the wall and they will be very easily knocked off. When looking for a tabletop frame, make sure that you like the degree at which it leans as it is almost impossible to change this. Some frames come with adjustable backs so you can choose how upright you want the frame to be but most do not have this option.
Floor picture frames are going to be a lot larger than tabletop and even hanging frames are; this is so that the pictures can be seen easily once they are in the frame and on the floor. It is very common for these frames to lean, making it easy to move them from one location to another and simply lean them against the wall when you want to display your photographs. Because of their size, it’s normal for them to be collage frames and to have more than one opening for pictures.
Square picture frames are not nearly as common as rectangular frames are but you still have a wide variety of choices when opting for this kind of picture frame. Depending on the size of the photograph that you are going to display, they may have a very wide frame around them, which will draw in the eye of the viewer and ensure that the picture is the main focal point.
The most common shape for picture frames is a rectangle. These frames have rectangular openings, making it very easy to display photographs that you have printed or that you print yourself without having to adjust or cut the picture. Because of this, you can buy these types of frames at many different stores and can easily find them in different styles. They come with different features and you will be able to choose the frame that is best for you depending on the use, what you will be displaying, and how important it is for you to have embellishments or other details.
While not as easy to find as other types of frames are, oval frames are very classy and will really draw attention to the photograph in the frame. They come as both hanging and tabletop frames and are generally a little fancier than other types of frames are. When using these frames, you will have to cut down the photograph that you are going to be displaying. It’s easy to do this by using the included picture in the frame as a guide.
Round picture frames are a great way to draw a lot of attention to the art or the photograph that you are displaying because they are so visually interesting and not commonly found. When choosing a round picture frame, make sure that you like the material that the frame is made out of and that you feel as if it will work with your photograph; otherwise, the end result will feel disconnected. Round frames come in all sizes.
When you want something a little different to display your photographs, then you will be best off with a novelty frame. These come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and can be in the design of everything from a tree to a castle. Novelty picture frames are great if you are in the market for an interesting gift for someone you love as they often are decorated in a theme and you can find ones that will appeal to different hobbies and interests. Make sure that you have room for the novelty frame that you are considering buying as many of the hanging ones tend to be quite large.
There are a few types of frames that are more gorgeous than a crystal frame. These sparkles and shine and will make any photograph that you choose to put inside appear even more gorgeous. They are a great choice if you want to showcase a particularly lovely or important picture, such as one from a wedding or of the first grandchild. A high-quality crystal picture frame makes for a lovely gift.
Ceramic picture frames are great because they come in all styles, are easy to paint, and are relatively strong so they won’t easily chip or break. When looking for a ceramic frame, you will be able to choose from a lot of patterns and designs.
Wooden frames are very common and look great in most situations. They are relatively lightweight, making them perfect for hanging on the wall. In addition, they stand up well to being moved and dropped. If you do ding or damage your frame, it may simply add character and interest to it.
Metal frames are bright, lightweight, and solid. They are harder to damage than other types of frames are but are light enough to be hung on the wall and moved without any trouble. While they can be painted, some of the charms of these frames is allowing the metal color to show through.
Leather frames have a very distinct look to them. You can buy ones that are tanned leather or ones that have the hide still attached, depending on what style you want for your home. These frames may look out of place in certain homes, depending on the style and decoration used through the house, but can look great in farmhouses or even in a modern home when used appropriately.
This is a very sturdy material and will last for a long time. One of the main reasons that people opt for bamboo frames is because of the interesting texture. It will add a lot of visual interest to your photograph and ensure that it stands out.
Snap-in frames are really easy to take apart and put back together. The whole back of the frame will pop out and will allow you to take out the picture and the glass as well. This makes it very easy to clean the glass so you don’t have to worry about smudges detracting from the beauty of the picture.
Having your picture frame engraved by a professional is a great way to make it truly yours and one of a kind. You won’t ever have to worry about anyone else having the same kind of picture frame as you do when you have a professional personalize it for you with custom engraving. This makes for an amazing gift as the recipient will really feel as though you were thinking about him or her.
There are few things more special than a personalized frame filled with a wonderful picture. These frames have to be custom ordered so you can make sure that they will have the correct spelling that you want but will instantly become a favorite of your recipient.
4. With Mat
Source: Home Depot
Frames that come with mats already built in will look a lot more put together and finished than ones that don’t have mats. A great mat will instantly improve the appearance of the picture that you have framed and buying one that has a mat included means that you won’t have to worry about matching it to the frame. They often come in neutral colors so they can work well with a variety of photographs and art.
These frames make it very easy to simply slide your photograph or picture into the frame. You don’t have to worry about accidentally dropping any part of the frame as you won’t ever take it apart. The back and picture will slide out, sometimes leaving the glass in place, while others will have the glass slide out as well. Instead of worrying about how you are to hang on to all of the pieces of your frame when you opt for a slide-in frame, you can easily change out your pictures.
6. Reclaimed Wood
One of the best ways to enjoy a picture frame while still taking care of the environment is to opt for one that is made of reclaimed wood. These often have interesting finishes and textures, making them a great choice when you want a picture frame that is just as attractive as it is useful. These can be made from a number of different sources and it can be very special to have one made out of an old barn or furniture that is important to you.
When you want to put up a gallery wall quickly and don’t want to have to stress out over finding frames that all work together, then you are best off buying a set. These may not all be the same color but they will complement each other and the sizes and shapes all work well together. This makes it very easy to buy the exact frames that you need to ensure that your gallery wall is cohesive and attractive.
Source: Home Depot
Silver-plated picture frames are gorgeous and make for a very special gift. No matter what kind of photograph you want to display in these frames, they will look amazing. Silver plated frames are a step above other kinds of frames and make for an amazing gift for anyone, especially as a wedding present or for an anniversary.
Mirrored frames add a lot of light and interest to your home by doing a great job reflecting back some of the light from your lamps. This draws the eye to them and makes people very interested in what they are displaying. When looking for mirrored frames, make sure that they are high-quality enough to last and that the surface is not merely reflective but truly does act as a mirror to ensure that you get the effect you desire.
frames have been in fashion for a long time and are a great way to display more than one photograph as part of a cohesive unit. There are a lot of options when you are looking for folding frames as some will only hold two pictures but there are others that will easily hold more. They’re a great way to maximize the number of photographs that you have on display without having to deal with multiple frames.
Gilded frames look very opulent. They are usually gilded with gold and very textured. The raised texture adds visual interest to the frame and will draw the eye of someone coming into your home.
Beaded picture frames have raised texture to them the same way that gilded frames tend to but they have lines of small beads all around the frame. While they can be in multiple rows that create a thick frame, it is common for them to be just one or two rows of beads.
Beveled frames have been cut to show a lot of interest and to make them 3D. They range from very simple to highly ornamental; depending on the appearance and decoration in your home you can choose what appearance you want. Make sure that you dust these regularly as they tend to collect dust.
F. Picture Capacity
Frames that only hold one picture or piece of art are very popular and some of the most common types of picture frames. These make the one piece of art the main focal point and are great for drawing attention to it.
If you have a lot of pictures that go together that you want to show as part of a cohesive unit, then make sure that you choose a picture frame that can easily fit all of them at once. You won’t have to worry about choosing which pictures to display and can enjoy all at the same time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to common questions about picture frames.
What are the standard picture frame dimensions/sizes?
Picture frames come in a wide variation of sizes and different dimension to fit any size picture. Using a mat board, you can achieve the look you want. The standard sizes are the, 4” x 6”, 5” x 7” and the 8” x 10” frames. There are also panoramic picture frames that are of standard size or you can order any size you need.
If you are looking for a mat board to go around your picture, you will want to buy a frame that is larger than your picture. You can also order custom made frames to match your pictures.
Can picture frames be recycled?
Glass picture frames are not recyclable unless you have a glass only dumpster in your town. Metal and wood frames are recyclable. As long as the wood frame is made with untreated wood, it can be recycled. Any wood frame that is treated with varnish is painted or gilded will need to go in the trash. Metal frames are a valuable material, and metal can be recycled many times over.
What materials are picture frames made from?
Frames for pictures are made of many different kinds of materials. Wood frames are the most common. Many silver and gold picture frames are really made of gilded wood. Some frames are made of canvas, metal, plastic, paper Mache, glass or paper, and other products.
What are floating picture frames?
You get a floating illusion to your photos or artwork when you sandwich your artwork or photo in between two pieces of glass or acrylic. Usually, floater frames are used when you have a printed or painted piece on canvas but can be used for any picture.
The floater frame will give your picture a safe space and will often compliment your pictures or artwork. The viewer sees a three-dimensional depth which makes your picture look like it is floating.
What are digital picture frames?
Digital photos are displayed in digital photo frames. They do not need a printer or a computer. They are designed expressly for the still visual display of photos. They will give your photos a nicer look. Users can display pictures right from their camera’s memory card. Some frames will allow you to upload pictures to the frame’s memory through a USB.
Can picture frames be carry on an airplane?
TSA would have the final say on any picture frames being carried onto a plane. With American Airlines, they only approve of carry-on frames that are 22 x 14 x 9 or less. Any picture frame that is larger will need to be checked.
Can picture frames be painted?
Almost any picture frame can be painted. Metal or wood frames can be painted using spray paint. Spray paint will give you an even finish when it is done. Make sure you let each coat dry completely before you apply a second coat.
Plastic frames can be painted. A fresh coat of paint will make any plastic frame look like it is not plastic. The only thing you need to do is to remember to use a paint that is made especially for plastic. Some paints just will not stick to plastic unless you use a primer first.
As with all frames, you should clean the frame first before painting. You should cover all the hardware with petroleum jelly in case you get paint on the pieces. This will help in getting any spills or splashes off the hardware.
Can picture frames be repaired?
There are many different repairs that can be done on a picture frame. If the fasteners are flimsy, the best way to repair them is to replace the tiny screws and make them secure again. If the joints are coming apart, you can take a rubber mallet and gently tap the joins back into place.
For frames that have scrolled work on them, it is best to make a mold of the design and mix plaster up to get a piece that will match your frame. Smooth the mold and fit it into the broken area. You can then stain or paint the frame.
Can picture frames be mailed?
UPS, FedEx, or USPS will help you determine the cost for shipping for the size of your frame. USPS will not ship frames over a certain size. FedEx will pack for you and charges by size and weight. UPS deals mostly with weight when figuring out the cost.
Make sure the box you choose for your frame to be shipped is larger than your frame. You will want to protect the corners with bubble wrap and put cardboard corner protectors on the corners. Use plenty of tape on the corners.
Can picture frames display and play GIFs?
GIF is short for Graphics Interchange Format that is a computer file. It is especially used for sending moving images. Graphic or digital picture frames blend the great features of your frame with all the newest digital technologies for showing your pictures. Your picture frame will show vibrant and bright pictures of your family vacations, road trips, or portraits that you wish to display.
Can you put picture frames in the bathroom?
You may want to decorate your bathroom with certain pictures in frames. What you need to remember is that the moisture from the bathroom can creep into the frame. This can ruin your pictures with mold, and the mold can grow in other parts of your bathroom.
There is a solution if you really want to hang pictures in your bathroom. Make sure you use a metal frame. Metal frames are aluminum and they can hold up to the changing temperatures of the room.
Do not use a picture that you only have one of. To protect what you do use, use an acrylic cover instead of glass. Acrylic will let some moisture in but it will also pass through and prevent the buildup of moisture that creates mold.
If you really have a certain picture you want in the bathroom, professionals have ways to frame your valuable pictures into a sealed enclosure.