Framing FAQ

Here are some answers to our most frequently asked question...

We feel that it’s important that everyone understands what we do as much as possible. The better you understand, the better your ability to make well-informed decisions – and that’s what we’re all about. If there is something we don’t cover here in our FAQ feel free to give a ring – (213) 973-7930 – any of our staff would be more than happy to answer your framing  related questions.

Why is my print turning yellowish brown?

Bad quality framing materials like mats and backing have lignin in them, a component of the trees that the paper was made from. Unfortunately, lignin is acidic and reacts with light to cause “burning” of other paper with which it comes into contact. You will often see a yellowing of the surface paper of the mat and the art, especially along the bevel of the mat. The mat out-gasses along the bevel, and these gases interact with light to discolor the art. Bring your art to us for evaluation and possible upgrading of your mat, backing, and glass to conservation quality materials.

Why is my paper rippling or getting wavy?

The answer is — it depends. Most posters, photos and inexpensive prints should be permanently dry mounted and shouldn’t be rippling. However, if you are framing an original or collectible piece of artwork, the proper mounting technique will not necessarily prevent rippling. In order to keep the artwork in its original condition, the framer doesn’t permanently adhere the artwork to its backing board. In most cases, the artwork is hinged to its mat or backing board with an acid-free paper and reversible adhesive with minimal contact to the artwork.

What causes the problem? Usually changes in temperature and humidity are involved, and sometimes improper framing plays a part. Paper absorbs and releases moisture at different rates throughout the year, especially in Minnesota, and sometimes the moisture will stretch the paper fibers enough to cause a noticeable ripple. In general, paper artwork will ripple more during the humid summer months and relax in the dry winter months. If the work was framed improperly in such a way as to not allow the paper to expand and contract without rippling, that could also be a factor.

So what can be done about the rippling of original artwork? In some cases rippling is just a natural part of the art and the paper it is painted on. If you want to preserve your artwork properly, you live with a little rippling. Sometimes move your artwork out of a hostile environment (away from a radiator, out of the bathroom, etc.,) can help. Something else you can try is adjusting the lighting or placement of a picture so the rippling becomes less obvious. As a last resort, paper artwork can be dry mounted to keep it flat, especially in cases where resale isn’t a concern. However, keep in mind that dry mounting is, for all practical purposes, permanent. If your picture was framed improperly, sometimes framing it properly can help alleviate the problem.

Obviously, we haven’t covered every framing situation here. At Carter Avenue we realize that every situation and customer is unique, so bring in any art you have questions about and we’ll help you make an informed decision about how to take care of your art.

Why is my artwork fading?

Almost all art fades given enough light and enough time. Some art media fade quicker than others. Watercolors and color photos are particularly susceptible to fading. Of course, the best way to protect your art and keep if from fading is to put it in a dark temperature and humidity-controlled vault. However, it is hard to enjoy your art under these conditions. Using conservation glass helps significantly to slow fading of your art by filtering out the ultraviolet part of the light. If you have light-sensitive art, you might consider displaying it in a place that does not have intense light. Bring your art in for an evaluation. We have UV-filtering glass and acrylic that will significantly help with your problem.

Is it possible for me to do my own framing?

If you have the right tools and skills and have lots of free time, doing your own framing can be rewarding. If you need help with some part of your project, like the mat or the glass, for example, we are happy to help.

There is more to framing, however, than some people think. First of all, there is the design. Good framing is more than four sticks of lumber and a mat. The design needs to consider the style of the art, the visual strength of the work, the era the art is from, colors of the art, and any structural issues. Good design makes a huge difference. Then there is the equipment. We use a $17,000 computerized mat cutter that cuts to within 1/1000th of an inch and gives us amazing mat-cutting capabilities. We join our frames with a pneumatic V-nailer that nails from below to eliminate nail holes at the corners of the frame. We have a $6000 40″X60″ heat and vacuum press to keep prints from rippling. We have very precise wall cutters for sizing backing, mats, and glass. We use custom framing specific hand tools to do the fitting. We have access to the finest moulding and conservation materials available, many of which are only available to custom framers. And we have years of experience but still continue in our framing education and research to provide you the best framing design and execution available in the industry.

How long does framing take?

Most framing projects are completed within 10 days. Some special order materials slow us down a bit, but we can often get your framing done even quicker if you are in a hurry. We do our best to accomodate rush orders. Please call us or stop in to discuss your project!

Do you pick up or do delivery?

Yes, we deliver, and we can pick up work, as well. Please call to discuss and make arrangements – (213) 973-7930.

Do you offer conservation framing?

Yes, we do conservation framing, preservation framing, and museum quality framing. In fact we don’t even carry “regular” mats anymore. We use rag and alphacellulose mats exclusively because their surface papers hold their color longer and they don’t damage the art in any way. We use acid-free backing and ultraviolet light filtering glass when appropriate to keep your valuable or irreplaceable art protected.

How Do I Clean Regular, Conservation, AR (Anti-Reflective) Or Museum Glass?

Ammonia free cleaner is recommended for all picture framing glass. Since AR and Museum Glass are so clear, fingerprints which are not visible on regular glass are visible and many glass cleaners will just smear the skin oils from a fingerprint across the surface of the glass. We recommend using alcohol to remove these fingerprints.

Always spray the glass cleaner or alcohol on a soft cleaning cloth, NOT THE GLASS. When cleaner is sprayed directly on the glass, it tends to run down the surface and seep under the lip of the frame at the bottom, which can cause the cleaner to soak into the mats, backing and artwork and cause damage!


What is conservation glass?

We’ve all heard about the dangers of ultraviolet light rays – particularly to organic materials. Exposure to UV light causes organic material to break down. This is visible in the form of fading colors and embrittlement and yellowing of the materials that bear the artwork. These effects, once started, are cumulative and irreversible.

The best way to preserve your art is to protect it from exposure to UV light from the outset. For starters, don’t hang your art in direct sunlight or light it with fluorescent light. Ask your framer to use Conservation Quality Glass, such as Tru Vue ® Museum Glass ®, the highest quality glass available.

Museum Glass effectively blocks a minimum of 98% of the dangerous UV light – protecting your artwork without affecting the visible light spectrum so your colors show truly as nice in a year as they do the first day you frame them.

What is the difference between Regular Mat Board and Acid-Free Mat Board?

Regular mat board, also called paper mats, are made from wood pulp.  Wood contains a great deal of acid.  Acid will do long term and permanent damage to your artwork.  Proper mat board, sometimes called archival mat board, rag mat board, or acid-free mat board, is made from cotton rag.  Cotton is acid free and PH neutral.

Why do I need Glass over my artwork?

With very few exceptions, artwork needs to be protected from the elements and glass is the best way to protect it.  Uncovered artwork is exposed to dust and dirt in the air, and most artwork cannot be cleaned without smearing or damaging the piece.  Your work will also be exposed to moisture, which in our area is highly prevalent.

Why should I use U.V. Protective Glass?

All artwork is affected by UV light.  This does not only occur when the art is being struck by direct sunlight from a window.  All lamps in your home release UV light.  Florescent lights in your home will affect your artwork approximately 40% slower than direct sunlight.  Incandescent houselights affect your artwork 60% slower than direct sunlight.  The only way to avoid any UV light on your artwork is to have it in a box placed in a closed drawer locked inside a closet.  The next best thing is UV protective glass.  Conservation clear glass looks like ordinary glass but has a filter which blocks 98% of UV light from reaching your artwork.  This will prolong the richness of your work (as well as the monetary value).

Why shouldn’t I use Non-Glare Glass?

Non-glare glass (also called non-reflective glass) is made by sandblasting glass on one or both surfaces.  The effect of this is to spread the reflected light across the glass by bouncing it off of the textured surface.  This is sending the light in all different directions instead of sending the crisp reflection back to the viewer.  1) This is a great idea except for two things:  the texture of the glass makes the glass less clear.  Directly against the surface of your artwork, you will lose some detail from your image.  The further the glass gets from the image, for example if you are using mats, the less detail you will see.  In a shallow shadowbox of ½” you will see nothing but a vague blur of colors.  2) By spreading the reflection in different directions, you may end up with your entire piece looking like a white rectangle.  In large amounts of light, the wide spread can cover your whole piece and obscure the art completely.

What is Museum Glass?

Museum glass is a fabulous alternative to the non-glare glass!  Museum glass has a coating which makes the glass invisible from most angles.  All glare and reflections are non-existent.  In addition, this glass has a coating which filters out 98% of UV light and protects your art form fading as well as conservation clear glass.  It does cost more than conservation clear glass, but it preserves the appearance of your unframed artwork, including the richness of color that any glass can subdue.

Why shouldn’t my art touch the Glass?

There are two problems which can be caused by artwork touching glass.  First, the glass can stick to the artwork.  I have in the past had to reframe a work of art along with the glass which is stuck to it.  Once the glass sticks, the artwork will tear if you try to remove it.  Second, the suction created between the artwork and the glass can attract and collect moisture from the air.  When this happens, the artwork can begin to mold.  Molded artwork can be repaired, but usually at a great cost through a conservator.  With the high humidity in our area, this molding happens often.  The only artwork I would recommend framing with glass directly on top of it are posters which are easily replaceable and photographs for which you have the negatives and the ability to reprint.

What is the purpose of Matting?

The reason for matting is to provide the viewer a place for their eye to rest around the artwork.  It removes all distractions from the enjoyment of the work itself.  A mat which is too small can create a distraction in itself by causing you to see a stripe around the artwork which is the first thing you notice when viewing the piece.  Your mat should be larger than the width of your frame with under-mats of varying sizes to avoid a distracting stripe effect.

How often should reframe my artwork?

The truth is, if your artwork is framed perfectly and kept under perfect conditions you should never have to get it reframed unless you want to change the look of your piece. That being said, it will almost never be framed perfectly and perfect conditions don’t exists outside of a museum. You should really have the hinging tape checked out every 3-5 years or so because it isn’t a permanent adhesion the tape will fail eventually. The materials should be replaced every 5-10 years or so because pollutants in the air will eventually degrade the color. You should do both sooner if the environment is extreme (ie. very hot, very cold, very humid, very polluted). Give us a ring if you are not sure…

What is the difference between a cheap frame from IKEA or Target and what you guys do?

Custom framing and doing the framing yourself is completely different… firstly cheap frames often are made of MDF or particle board and this stuff usually has formaldehyde in it – the stuff that is used to preserve dead bodies and stop decomposition and odor for a funeral. That is just one of the chemicals… It’s not made to preserve art work at all. If you tape a picture into an Ikea frame you will probably get 6-12 months at best before it starts to get brown or yellow. This is the artwork breaking down and decomposing. Surprisingly formaldehyde doesn’t have the same effect on art as it does to decomposing bodies.

If you don’t care about the artwork at all and you just want to put it up on the wall then use a cheap frame from a cheap store or cheap frame shop with ready made frames. If you care even just a little bit about what you are framing then find an affordable custom options to make it last for a lot longer. If you’re not sure – give us a call.