Best Picture Frames

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
17 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
119 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best picture frames

Last Updated August 2019

It's hard to put your finger on exactly what makes a house or an apartment a home, but the pictures you display are definitely part of it. From your favorite art prints to family photos, you need to pick the right frames to display them.

Not only should your chosen frame work well with the picture you wish to display on a practical level, it should also complement it aesthetically. So, which picture frame should you choose? Picking a frame or two from thousands can be overwhelming, especially if you're not certain what you're looking for.

Luckily, you've arrived at the right place to receive help with your purchase. You can check out our five favorite frames or read on for our detailed guide to buying the best frames.

The right frame should complement the photo or work of art inside, but it shouldn't be so fussy or showy that it detracts from it.

Key considerations

Frame materials

Perhaps the first decision is what material you'd like your frame to be.

  • Wood: Wooden picture frames have a classic appearance that can't be replicated. They're durable and are available in a wide range of natural stains and painted finishes, so it's easy to find a wooden frame that matches your furniture. On the down side, quality wooden frames can be pricey, and they don't always work with modern, minimalist decor.

  • Metal: Metal photo frames are usually made from aluminum (though there are exceptions), which is strong and lightweight. They look great in rooms that already feature metallic accents, but otherwise may be hard to match with your existing decor.

  • Plastic: Plastic frames are lightweight and inexpensive. You can find them in a wide range of colors and they may have shiny or matte finishes. However, they scratch fairly easily and aren't as durable as metal or solid wood options.
     

Multiframes vs. single-picture frames

Some frames are designed to hold just one picture, while others can hold several at once. These are usually referred to as "multiframes" or "collage photo frames." Multiframes are ideal for holding multiple related photos, such as photos from a vacation or day out, or photos of your child over the years. They usually hold multiple standard-sized 4 x 6 photos, but some are designed to hold smaller photo sizes.

Single-picture frames are great for holding just one picture you want to draw attention to. You can also buy several single frames to create a wall display, which works better than a collage photo frame if you want to have more control over the layout of your display.

Size

You can buy frames in all sizes, from miniature frames for displaying wallet-sized photos to huge behemoths for holding giant oil paintings or extra-large prints. You need to select the correct size frame for the picture you want to display, plus any matting, if you choose to use it. You'll need to add about three to four inches to the size of your picture to allow for matting.

If you haven't decided how large you want to blow up your print or you're buying a frame speculatively, it might be better to decide where you want to position it, measure the space, and go from there. The listed frame size generally refers to the internal dimensions of the frame. For example, a 16 x 20 frame can hold a picture of 16 inches by 20 inches, but it might measure 17 inches by 21 inches, including the frame.

EXPERT TIP

You may need to enlist a family member or friend to help you hang extra-large frames safely.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Some frames include optional matting to mount images, but often you'll need to buy matting yourself if you decide to mount your picture.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Hardware

The vast majority of frames arrive with hanging hardware already attached. This may be a single loop in the center of the frame that attaches straight to a picture hook. For larger frames, it might be two loops on either side of the frame with hanging wire between them. Many frames also feature hardware for standing your photo up on a flat surface like a mantlepiece or a dresser. Check that it your picture has the correct hardware attached for wherever it will be placed.

Embellishments

Although plenty of contemporary frames are quite plain, you can find some models with various kinds of embellishment. You may find ornately carved wooden frames or novelty frames that have phrases like "best friends" written on them or have hearts around the edges. It's up to you to decide what kinds of embellishments, if any, you'd like your frame to have. If you do choose an embellished frame, it should suit your decorative style or appeal to your personal tastes.

Glass or acrylic

Traditionally, frames have a pane of glass that sits inside the frame in front of the picture, which protects it. However, inexpensive picture frames often use acrylic instead of glass. Glass has slightly better clarity than acrylic and resists scratching, but it's also fragile, so you risk it shattering if your picture is knocked down. Acrylic is shatter-proof, which is a bonus when ordering a frame online (especially a large one), as you don't need to worry about it shattering en route. However, it scratches relatively easily and some people just prefer how glass looks.

Frame width

It's important to consider the width of each edge of the actual frame, not just the overall dimensions of the frame. Some frames have large edges that are several inches wide, while others have extremely slim edges, just a quarter-inch wide or less. The frame width you choose doesn't affect anything other than the frame's appearance, so choose a width that you like aesthetically. You should also note the frame width in the context of the overall frame size. For instance, a frame designed to hold a 4 x 6 photo would appear strange with a three-inch wide frame, but it would make sense on a huge 30 x 40 frame.

DID YOU KNOW?

The vast majority of frames are rectangular, but you occasionally find oval frames or frames with novelty shapes.

Picture frame prices

Picture frames vary in price from just a few dollars to several hundred dollars (or more in the case of some antique or designer frames). What should you expect to receive for your money? Budget photo frames start at as little as $3 to $5 for small frames or $5 to $15 for larger frames. These are often made from plastic and have acrylic in the middle instead of glass. Mid-range photo frames cost between $20 and $60. You can find photo frames in a wide range of sizes and materials in this price range. Expensive photo frames cost roughly $100 to $500. At the top end of that price range, you'll find silver-plated frames or large, embossed wooden frames.

Tips

  • Decide whether or not you'll be mounting your photo or print. You can use matting to create a border between the picture and the edge of the frame. This is useful when framing non-standard pictures, but some people choose matting for visual reasons, even if it's not necessary.

  • Chose a frame that goes with your decorative style. For instance, a bright pink, glittery photo frame would appear unusual in a room with otherwise neutral tones. It's best to avoid anything that would look out of place.

Other products we considered

Picking out just the top five frames was challenging. Here are some more great picks. If you're searching for a set of matching frames to get you started, consider the Gallery Perfect 7 Piece Black Photo Frame Wall Gallery Kit. It contains seven matching frames of varying sizes in either black, white, or walnut. Looking for something more rustic? The BarnwoodUSA Rustic Farmhouse Signature Picture Frame might be what you've been searching for. Made from natural reclaimed wood, each one has individual character. Available in either silver or black, AmazonBasics Photo Frames are an affordable choice for anyone who wants to keep it simple. We also love the Umbra Luna Collage Wall Frame, which holds nine standard sized photos and has a cool, contemporary style.

When hanging frames, you should position them roughly at eye level. However, placing them slightly higher can give the illusion of height to a low-ceilinged room.

FAQ

Q. I'd like to hang framed pictures, but I can't make holes in the walls. What should I do?

A. If you live in a rented property, you might be wondering how to hang frames without making holes in the walls (a surefire way to say goodbye to your security deposit). Here's the good news: you can buy special picture hanging strips which let you hang frames without nails and without damaging the paintwork!

Q. Should I choose all my picture frames to match one another?

A. This is completely up to you. Some people like the uniform appearance of matching frames, whereas other prefer the eclectic vibe of mismatched frames.

Q. What kind of frame should I choose for an original painting?

A. Since oil paintings never truly dry, they should only ever be hung in an open frame without glass or acrylic in front of the painting. Watercolors can be hung behind glass or acrylic, but any surfaces they're touching should be acid-free.

The team that worked on this review
  • Amy
    Amy
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer

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