How to Frame a Puzzle

Everything you need to know about preserving and framing jigsaw puzzles

If you've ever completed a jigsaw puzzle you know how rewarding it is to finally see the finished picture. Sure, you could jumble all the pieces together and save the puzzle for another rainy day, but what if you want to preserve and show off all your hours of hard work?

That's where online framing comes in! We've created the ultimate guide to framing your puzzle, from choosing the right adhesive for binding the pieces together, to mounting everything securely inside of the frame.

Let's jump right in!

Preparing your puzzle for framing

The best way to ensure your puzzle stays intact while in the frame is to preserve it with an adhesive so that the pieces don't become dislodged during the framing process, or while hanging on the wall.

There are a few approaches to binding the pieces together:

Puzzle glue

Jigsaw puzzle glue is the most common method for protecting and saving your puzzles, and there are a variety of brands made just for this purpose.

Some companies, like Jiggy, anticipate that you'll want to preserve your puzzle for framing and include glue along with your order.

Otherwise, look for a puzzle glue that is acid-free and has low water content such as MasterPieces or Mod Podge Paper, which is manufactured here in the U.S.

How to Glue and Frame a Puzzle

Using the provided glue on Cali Views (Domonique Brown) puzzle from Jiggy

To glue your completed puzzle together, pour a line of glue down one edge of the puzzle and spread it evenly across using a spatula or card.

Use something that has a smooth edge and won't scratch your puzzle, like an old business or credit card. Puzzle glues will often include the spatula so you don't have to worry about finding your own.

Alternatively, you can use a foam brush to spread the glue (paintbrushes are not recommended as they leave visible brush strokes). Apply enough glue to get into the cracks and create an even layer, without over-saturating.

Sometimes the puzzle can begin to curl or bow once the glue is attached to one side, but that can be easily fixed. Once the glue is dried according to guidance on the label, turn the puzzle over and apply an even layer of glue to the back. As it dries, it will even out.

Gluing your puzzle to a backing

For extra support, you can either apply glue to the back of the puzzle and let it dry, or glue it to a backing.

Paper backing is lightweight and thin, so it will give you more flexibility with framing options. We recommend a thin, acid-free paper, which can be found in sheets or a roll.

Some people like to use parchment or wax paper which can come in acid-free varieties, but it does have a non-stick surface that may affect adhesion. For that reason, it may be best to opt for a simple paper without any coating.

Gluing your puzzle to foam core adds even more support, but the added thickness may limit your framing options afterwards.

Peel and stick puzzle saver film

If you're concerned about altering the front of the puzzle or simply want less cleanup, then adhesive sheets such as Puzzle Presto from Buffalo Games are the way to go.

Instead of bonding the pieces from the front, the adhesive is applied only to the back.

This method requires that you flip the puzzle over, so you'll need two pieces of stiff cardboard or foam board to sandwich the puzzle between.

Flipping your newly assembled puzzle over may sound a bit scary, but we have some tips for a successful flip:

  • Have one or more person help you
  • Use binder clips or tape along the edges of the boards for an extra secure hold
  • Cut your two cardboard sheets with as little extra room around the puzzle as possible to prevent any gaps forming in the middle

Once you've successfully flipped the puzzle over, apply the adhesive sheets to the reverse as directed. A rolling pin can be helpful for applying even pressure across the adhesive sheets, allowing the pieces to stick better.

Framing your puzzle

Now for the fun part!

Once your puzzle is in one piece and ready for framing, it's time to decide what framing style you're going with. Since puzzles are three-dimensional, you have to make a few adjustments to make sure it fits in the frame.

Custom framing a puzzle online with Level Frames

Measure twice, frame once

Although the dimensions are conveniently included on your puzzle's packaging, they can often be slightly different than the actual size. Always measure your puzzle yourself rather than basing your frame off of the size on the box. It's a small step that will save you a lot of time and headache in the long run!

For a non-rectangular or special shape, simply measure the widest points in both directions to get the correct width and height dimensions.

These edge-to-edge dimensions are what we need to build the right size custom frame for your puzzle.

Deciding on a frame style

There are many custom framing styles that are compatible with puzzles, but we've put together our top recommendations for DIY framing.

Framing to size (or, a Straight Fit)

Framing your puzzle right to the edges without any matting is the simplest way to frame on your own.

All you need are the puzzle's width, height, and thickness to order a frame to fit it just right. Standard cardboard puzzles are less than 1/8" thick which fits into most frames (including ours) with no problem.

If you have a wooden puzzle or an extra-thick puzzle, you will just need to make sure that the frame you choose is deep enough to fit it. The frame profiles used in our Frame at Home kits come with an extra foam backing board that can be removed if you need a little extra room.

This framing style is also ideal if your puzzle is already mounted to a foam backing.

Float mounting

Float mounting is the best option to show off the entire puzzle without covering any of the edges. And if you want a border around your piece, it's a simpler and more modern alternative to traditional matting.

With this display, the puzzle is centered on top of a matboard backing with space all around and attached by double-sided tape.

This works best for puzzles that are standard thickness (1/8" or less) and we recommend a Sandwich Float (found in our Advanced Options) which will keep the puzzle pressed in place.

Cali Views (by Domonique Brown) puzzle from Jiggy floated inside our Academie Gold frame

Our kits come with two pieces of tape on the top, but you can request extra pieces in the special instructions at checkout. Having a couple of extra pieces on the backing will help support the weight, especially for larger puzzles.

Puzzles with special shapes

For any special, non-rectangular sizes, the Sandwich Float is definitely the way to go since the puzzle can be centered on the mat with your desired spacing around it. If you are framing with us for anything uniquely shaped, you can request that the pre-applied tape be left off and that we include a roll for you to apply yourself. You will be able to apply the tape to the back of the puzzle so that it's not visible in the final result.

Acrylic vs glass covering

Though glass is less expensive than acrylic and tends to be more scratch-resistant, it's not ideal for these DIY puzzle framing where the cover will be touching the front of your puzzle.

Glass is less chemically stable and attracts moisture which can cause it to become glued to the puzzle. For this reason, we recommend using 1/8" framing acrylic.

If you're ordering your frame with us, we offer four types of TruVue framing acrylic, including UV-filtering options to protect your puzzle from fading over time.

We hope this guide has been helpful in giving you key tips and ideas for framing your own puzzle. If you still have questions about framing puzzles or other items, we are standing by as always to help you with all of your online framing needs!

Happy Framing!