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What Is Picture Frame Moulding


how to frame pictures

long length picture frame mouldingsThis article explains what picture frame moulding is and how it is brought, sold and used by picture framers to frame pictures. You can also purchase picture frame mouldings like professional picture frame shops.

Custom picture frame moldings come in many finishes and grades. Some have such magnificent finishes on them they are an art form in themselves. The frames are the equal of the finest furniture. Picture frame molding's usually come in wood, plastics and metals. We stock and sell only wood moldings. Wood is still the ultimate material to make a beautiful frame. When you have a picture custom framed, you want it to look custom framed. To our mind, you can only get that look using wood moldings.

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long length picture frame mouldings

Pictures framed with metal moldings always seem to look like they came from a department store. Metal frames also deteriorate after a few years in areas with any high moisture content. They also have the distinction of being known as the "cheap way to frame." It is very difficult to sell high quality pictures using metal frames. Metal frames have many disadvantages such as corners coming loose, rusting and others problems.

We also do not carry the newer plastic moldings. These moldings have many problems. They are very brittle and the corners will break if dropped even when glued. I mean the whole corners will break out, not just come undone. Another problem is that it takes twice as long to cut and put together a plastic molding because it takes the special plastic glue so long to dry. Many times you have to leave the corner in the vise overnight. For each corner! Some framers use hot glue to try to circumvent this problem, but this kind of glue does little to actually hold the frames together for any length of time. Plastic frames are also very flimsy. When you hold up a two-inch wide, ten-foot stick of wood molding you got a nice firm piece of material in your hands. The same stick of plastic molding will wobble and bend all over the place. You can actually snap it in two and break it this way. This is why Grignon's Art & Frame only uses wood moldings.

picture frame moulding stylesWood moldings can take almost any form from hand laid gold leaf to rustic barn woods and rich weathered driftwood styles. There are hand-rubbed finishes in cherry, mahogany, clear maple, and walnut plus lots of others. The wood picture frame mouldings available today can be incredibly beautiful.

Wood mouldings come in many grades of quality and finish. The finish applied to many of the better wood picture frame mouldings is still done by hand. A wood picture frame molding with a nice lacquered finish for example might have each coat of lacquer hand rubbed before the next coat goes on. Lower grades of wood molding may only have one or two coats of lacquer on them while higher grades have more coats. The more coats of finish are lots more work, and so cost more.

There are cheaper grades of picture frame mouldings that are made by the hundreds of thousands of feet at a time using low grade material with only one or two finish coats and sold to large shops that produce millions of ready made frames for department stores. These frames are quickly cut and stapled together, usually the corners are not glued and eventually come apart. They serve their purpose of framing the snapshots and whatever, but this is not custom framing. Frames made of plastic can be made even cheaper and so are beginning to uproot wooden frames in department stores to the point that it is now getting hard to find good wood picture frame mouldings in stores.  Almost every moulding you see today in these stores are made of plastic. The outside finishes can be really nice but turning them over you can see they are plastic.  They serve their purpose, just don't drop them or they can shatter in multiple pieces.

One mistake that many people make is to acquaint moulding size with price. For example, someone will come into our frame shop and choose a really narrow picture frame molding thinking to keep the price down thinking the narrow molding is cheaper.

Many wood picture frame moldings are finished by machine. The coatings are sprayed on and left to dry as is. Sometimes the picture frame moldings are given more than one coat of finish.

machine finished picture frame mouldingThe price of a molding cannot be judged by its size. A small narrow molding finished with five hand-rubbed coats of lacquer is going to cost lots more than a much wider machine finished molding In fact, there are many small filets which cost more per foot than a larger finished molding. I have had lots of customers pick out a picture frame molding which was much to narrow for their picture, and were very surprised when I would show them a nice wider molding that went really well with their picture, at a lesser cost than the narrow one they had picked out!

Click here to see a larger image of the machine finished picture frame moulding

In choosing a picture frame molding you should always pick the one that brings your art and matting combination to life! A molding one-inch wide would be lost on a twenty six by forty inch picture. Most pictures look best with a molding that it not too narrow nor too wide. If in doubt you should really leave the choice of width up to your framer who has framed thousands of pictures and usually knows what looks right.  If you don't like the price just tell him. Alternatives are almost always available.

hand finished picture frame mouldingMost professional frame shops will show you their line of picture frame moldings using what are called corner samples. These samples are bought from their suppliers. Those samples are almost never free anymore.  In fact some can be quite expensive.  I have a set of Larsen Jule moulding samples that cost me well over $1400.00. 

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hand finished picture frame moulding

Molding samples can get quite beat up sometimes with all the handling they experience.  Remember these are samples only. Please keep in mind your framed pictures will be framed using the nicest woods. So if you see a loose corner or ding on a corner sample your framer is showing you, please forgive.

When you have selected your picture frame molding from a frame shop, the framer will order from his supplier a picture frame chop that will fit your picture.  This chop is a picture frame cut with mitered corners to the exact size the framer wants.  The framer than takes the chop and puts it into his vise, glues the corners and then nails them and puts the complete picture frame together for the customer.

long lenth picture frame moulding is shipped via truck freightOnly a very few frame shops actually stock long length moulding.  Most don't stock any moulding at all. Instead they just order the frame chops after a customer orders the frame.  This is the most prudent way to operate.

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long length picture frame moulding shipped via truck freight

Shops that stock long length moulding have to sit on it for years sometimes hoping someone will buy that particular moulding.  When there are now thousands of mouldings to choose from, it is fool hardy to stock long length picture frame moulding.  Besides that long length moulding has to be shipped via truck freight which is expensive. Sometimes some gets damaged and there is a no return policy.  There is also a 20% or more waste factor on long length moulding.  There are just too many disadvantages to buying long length moulding hoping to save a few bucks so most frame shops now operate on the buy chops when sold policy.

You can buy picture frame chops right here on this web site wholesale and put your own pictures together if you wish to give picture framing a try.   I have other articles on this site that shows you how to put picture frames together.  It is fun and easy to do, why not give it a try?

Thank You for visiting
Sincerely, Reimond Grignon