What Goes Into Each Level Frame

Why materials matter when it comes to framing artwork, prints and photos

The Job of a Custom Frame

A picture frame serves a few different purposes.

The first is simply to enhance the qualities of the print or photo inside, and as a result look great on your wall.

Image credit @crysyun

Almost as important is protecting the artwork from ldust, UV rays, temperature fluctuations and acids that can wreak havoc on paper-based items over time.

This is why materials matter so much when it comes to framing.

Selecting Your Frame Style

We're building the best online custom framing experience to help you find the right options for your artwork or photo so that it can look its best and stay in perfect condition.

One of first decisions to make when custom framing is the selection of the frame, or profile.

A good rule of thumb is to not attempt to match your frame with your home's decor, but rather look for a frame color or texture that complements the artwork itself. You may change or update your decor over time, or hang the piece somewhere new in the future.

online framing 101

The width of the profile, or face, is another way to customize the frame to fit your artwork and preferred style.

A slimmer frame will look sleek and contemporary, and as you bump up on the width it will appear more solid and traditional.

Mat and Mounting Options

In addition to the frame choice, there are a few different framing methods that will influence the final appearance.

Straight Fit - The lip of the frame slightly overlaps the edges of your artwork or photo, revealing the image in full-bleed style. This can be a good choice when you want to keep it simple, and when your artwork has natural borders or plenty of white space surrounding the focal point.

Overmat - Add a picture frame mat to your frame that will slightly overlap the edges of your print or photo, revealing it inside a window opening. This creates a border of negative space around the image to provide balance and breathing room. It's usually a great choice no matter what you are framing, and will draw additional focus to the artwork.

Float - If you'd like to show the entire piece of paper the art is printed on, you may consider floating your artwork. This can be a nice effect for art prints with deckled edges, or when you'd like to reveal a signature or edition number that is very close to the paper edge.

Materials Do Matter

Level's custom frames are handcrafted in the USA to the highest standards and using only archival ingredients.

Beyond the visible elements in each frame, there are components that fill out the back and come into contact with your print or photo. It's crucial that all of the these materials are acid-free to meet archival standards, otherwise you risk deterioration to your artwork over time.

Framed at Home, or in Our Studio

With Level, you can customize a frame to your exact liking and have it shipped to your door with instructions for mounting the artwork on your own. It's a 10 to 15 minute DIY project that many of our customers enjoy, and the fastest way to custom frame posters, prints or photos that you have in hand.

Here's a snapshot of the DIY framing process:

Your other option is sending your artwork to us.

This takes a bit longer, but if you prefer this route and are comfortable sending your artwork through the mail, we'll frame for you and send everything back ready to hang.

Of course, if you would like to print and frame a photo, simply upload the digital image, select a print size and customize the frame to your liking. Your beautifully framed photo arrives within about a week with everything you need to hang it on the wall.

If you want to group photos together, we offer a range of collage frames that can house multiple pictures in a variety of layouts, as well as a number of different gallery wall designs to fit any space in your home.

Choosing the Glaze

The first line of defense for your artwork, glazing is the protective barrier that sits between the contents of a picture frame and the outside environment.

This framing component, usually made of glass or acrylic, plays a very important role in providing artwork with much needed protection from pollutants, dust, moisture, temperature fluctuations, and any physical damage.

We use acrylic to cover all of our frames, due to its clarity, light weight and strength.

The right glaze will depend on what you are framing, where it will hang, and what you are trying to accomplish.

Standard Acrylic - Our default option is an optically pure, framers-grade acrylic. A fine choice for most photos, posters and prints provided you avoid hanging in direct sunlight.

UV Protection - This is a premium glaze with a coating that provides the highest level of protection against Ultraviolet (UV) rays, preventing fading or yellowing of paper-based artwork. It's got great defense and is optically pure, but may pick up reflections from surrounding light sources depending on where you hang it and the viewing angle. A must for artwork of any value, or soft paper mediums that can easily fade over time even in indirect lighting.

Non-Glare - This glaze has a subtle matte finish that reduces reflections from surrounding light, with moderate protection against UV rays (about 70% vs. the UV Protection glaze's +99%). The matte coating diffuses light, so you may see muted reflections from any lighting that is very close by, but the viewing is relatively unhindered and and free from any glare when seen from straight on and most vantage points.

Optium Museum - This glaze is more expensive than the other options, but it's like magic. You will not regret choosing it for a piece you truly love and will enjoy seeing for many years. Optium Museum is an anti-reflective, anti-static, super light and virtually invisible acrylic trusted by the world’s top museums. It will provide crystal clear viewing with 99% UV protection for the absolute best in display and preservation.

Making a Custom Frame Your Own

Now comes the fun part. One of the best things about custom framing online is that you can visualize the final result and try on different frame colors and styles to see what looks best to you.

When you are framing a poster, print or photo with Level, you can upload a preview image of the item and see it inside the frame as you customize. Our "Golden Ratio" button suggests a frame width and mat size that should work well based on the dimensions of your artwork.

Go with the style that compliments your artwork and looks right to your eye. Use our "Share" button to share your frame choices with someone (or us) to get a second opinion.

We can't wait to see what you decide to frame. You got this!