We believe that one of the main reasons that photos, prints, posters and pictures are not framed is because of the cost. And while many picture framers will furiously shake their heads at this statement, picture framing is, comparatively speaking, quite expensive. Customers can get an inexpensive A4 black picture frame for as little as $2.84, but to custom frame it, anywhere from $50 to $10 and in anybody’s language, that’s expensive! However, if you stop and think how the artwork will be framed, what it is, and where you going to hang it, you can save, and considerably! Let’s start with the backing board, you know, the bit that you see at the rear and goes at the back of the picture. Now think about the value, financial, emotional or otherwise the art ( the picture) that you want framed may have. Does it have any? Did you pay hundreds ( pounds, dollars, shekels, whatever ) for it? .. Is it a work on paper or an original? Is it one of a kind? If the answer is no to any of the above then chances are that your art is relatively inexpensive, unimportant and while not worthless, not valuable at all. In this case chances are that the framer will use cheap, thin plywood, MDF or cardboard as an inexpensive backing. Many ready-made, or off-the-shelf frames also use brown cardboard as a backing, which works fine but may break down after many years. These backings will still keep out the dust but maybe acidic and acid may migrate to the framed art. You can then skip having an acid free or conservation backing and make the 1st step of saving money on picture framing. Now let’s progress with the window mat, or window mount, as our English brethren call it, or more simply, the mat. The mat is often not noticed at first in the overall custom picture frame. Before deciding whether you can do without it, you should know what it does. And the window mat serves several purposes. Firstly it separates the image from the frame, making the overall art larger, heightening the visual focus required and thus enhancing the art. Secondly it keep the glass away from the art itself, and this important with valuable work. Thirdly it is a the place from which the picture will be hinged, so that it does not move. Matboard, or mountboard, comes in several sizes and can be of varying quality, from the everyday production matboard to the cotton-rag, museum quality variety, or brand. If your picture is a cheap holiday poster, a reproducible snapshot, or similar, and is not valuable, However if you feel that your art may have value, financial, emotional or otherwise, or is irreplaceable, then you should consider a quality window mat. The matboard should be , at the very least, acid-free, or archival or museum quality. AlphaRag, Crescent Ragboard and Artcare are names of quality boards that come readily to mind. Skimp on the mat board if you’re not framing one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable artwork — or you simply don’t need a mat board to make your artwork pop. If you decide to forgo mat board, however, use frame spacers to ensure that the glazing doesn’t touch the artwork. Lastly, if you like the presentation of matted art but don’t need it to be of archival quality then you can opt for a generic, production, whitecore matboard as a cheaper option. Of course, not having a window mat at all is the cheapest option and is the 2nd step of saving money on picture framing. Then there’s the glazing , which means the material, the framed art will be covered with. It can be plastic, Perspex or acrylic, but in most cases it will be clear glass. Glazing, whether this be glass or plastic, serves to protect the art from airborne pollutants and dust. The same art value reasoning is applied here as in the two preceding sections. If the art is not valuable, then inexpensive, clear float glass will do fine. Clear glass only blocks about half of the harmful Ultra Violet (UV) rays that fade colours but this is relatively unimportant when art is not valuable. If the art is invaluable then special conservation glass to block out most of not all of the UV light is recommended, to prevent or at least, greatly retard fading. The other consideration is where the art will hang. If the frames are large and the room where these will hang is bright and sunlit, consider asking your framer for non-reflective glass. With all that said, using common, inexpensive, clear float glass is the 3rd step of saving money on picture framing. And lastly, there’s the moulding, which after it’s cut and joined gets called; the frame. Plain, square profile black mouldings are the cheapest, if these suit the artwork. Size also matters in this department. A frame made out from a small, 2x2cms moulding will cost a fair bit less than a frame made from a 4x4cms moulding. To sum it up, small is cheap, is expensive! Gold, silver-leaf mouldings, floater profiles and mouldings that are embossed and decorate will cost more. The provenance of the mouldings also matters. If it’s Asian-made, probably from Malaysia, then the frame will cost less because the factories that make the mouldings there are able to employ cheap labour, up to 90% cheaper than Australian labour. If it’s European, from Italy or from the U.S.A., then the frame will cost more, for the inverse reason that factories in those countries need to employ relatively more expensive labour. And this is the 4th and last step on how save money when picture framing.