Frames First - Sunset

How much will my frame cost?

At first glance, custom picture framing seems “expensive.” The most common observation a framer hears is why it “costs so much to frame a ten dollar poster.” Well, for the last five hundred years (since the Gutenberg Press was first created) western society has been improving and lessening the cost of printing. And before that Chinese culture perfected the process of copying famous works using stencils and rubbing stains.

The materials used for framing need to be durable and high quality if they are to do their job properly. Everyone has seen how a newspaper yellows and literally disintegrates when kept overtime. If matting, the border that is used around a picture, was made out this cheap cellulose material (and they have in the distant past) it would discolor and stain (literally burn) the art it holds. That is why almost all mat board is treated chemically or made of “rag,” acid free cotton. To make a beautiful frame moulding, it can take up to ten manufacturing steps from milling to final varnish. This cannot be completed at one time. Finally, the picture framer alone has many steps to complete before even a basic piece is finished from cutting frames and mat to fitting glazing and hangers. Each size is different each step takes special training or attention.

...a rough way to compute cost is as follows:

Frame moulding is charged by the foot. The average prices run from $7.00 to $18.00 a foot. Listed below are a few examples of standard sizes and their footages for a two inch wide frame. Remember a size is inside the frame and the customer pays to the outside of the frame.

• 11x14 inches =5 ½ feet
• 16x20 inches=7 ½ feet
• 24x36 inches=12 feet

So figure your footage and multiply by about $12.00 foot.

In addition, glass and matting are charged by the area. These vary much in quality so basic glass is going to start at twenty five dollars for a mid- sized project between the last two shown above. Better glass, like U.V. blocking is fifteen dollars more and worth it! A mat will be about the same or a little less.

Labor to assemble is what varies most between framers. Some show the cost; others work it into the other categories. At Frames First Inc we delineate it out and it averages about $30. It will be less or more based on size or complexity.

Backings or dry-mounts or special services like fitting shadow boxes are extra and should be spelled out by the framer at the time of sale.