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How Are Picture Frame Sizes Measured? (4 Helpful Measuring Tips)

Picture Frame Table

Framed pictures can improve the aesthetic appeal of your home and make it more welcoming. Usually, picture frames retail in a varying selection of sizes, but generally, they are categorized as standard and non-standard picture frames. In the US, picture frames are measured in inches, while centimeters are used in other parts of the world. The standard method of determining a picture frame size is measuring the height and width of a photo1.

In this article, we have created a picture frame guide to help you pick the correct size frame for your pictures. You need only the picture sizes and match them with the correct size of your frame, and voila! You get to personalize your living space with your style and preference. Read on to learn more.

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Measuring Picture Frame Sizes

Most common picture frame sizes tend to match the standard photo printing sizes. However, a variety of options are available to accommodate the different mat sizes and picture styles. For instance, photographers prefer using photos measuring 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″ and 8″ x 10″.

You can choose a larger frame for your photos if you wish to add a mat border. Additionally, you can use custom frames for photo sizes that are not standard such as panoramas or square varieties.

Buying Picture Frame
Image By: BearFotos, Shutterstock

Before You Begin

To make picture frame shopping easier, you can choose one of the standard picture frame sizes retailing in your store. These sizes can accommodate different picture sizes, ranging from huge Ordnance survey maps to small postcards.

If the frame size you require is not sold as a standard option, there are two ways to go about it.

  • Look for a custom-size picture frame that can perfectly fit your pictures.
  • Look for a larger standard-size frame as well as a custom cut mount that comes with borders wide enough to recover the difference.

You will also need a tape measure, your photo, a notebook, and a pen to jot down the measurements from your pictures.

taking measures of frame at home
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Measure Your Picture

After gathering the necessary tools required, lay your picture out on a flat surface, then measure the length and the width. If your pictures have a white border, which you do not want to display, trim them before taking any measurements. This will ensure you get accurate final measurements.

Some picture frames may require mating to accentuate the artwork or photo2. Matting also prevents the photo from falling and separates it from the picture frame glass. If you would want to add a mat to your picture frame, you must first ascertain the interior dimensions.

Simply subtract ½ inch from the width and height of the picture. This way, you will have a mat with the exact dimensions.

Standard Picture Frame Sizes

Small Picture Frames 4 by 6 in (10 by 15 cm) for Standard Photographs

If limited by wall space or want to frame many of your pictures, small picture frames are a better option. By hanging small frames, you can fit more pictures on your wall space. Smaller frames also complement surrounding larger frames.

These frames are just big enough to accommodate a printed photo on a standard piece of paper. Due to their small size, these frames do not come with any matting. You may be able to find smaller frames than this size, but they are less common.

picture frame on table
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

Medium-sized frames 11 by 14 in (28 by 36 cm)

Photographers and art installation experts consider medium-sized frames as the standard of picture frames. Medium-sized frames are perfect for displaying pictures on a desk or wall and are suitable for artwork or printed works.

These frames can retail with or without matting, but this will depend on your preference. The mat size will vary, depending on the company you buy the frame from or the size of your framed work.

Large Picture Frames 20 by 24 in (51 by 61 cm) and 24 by 36 in (61 by 91 cm)

These are the largest varieties you can buy and are a fun addition to your home décor. Some stores may have 30 by 40 in (76 by 102 cm) frames; however, they are not as common. These frames are perfect for displaying large art pieces or a collage of your favorite pictures and photos. They retail with matting to protect large artwork pieces or photos.

picture frame wall interior design
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Factors to Consider When Determining the Size of a Picture Frame

  • Visible Area – Picture frames are essentially designed to keep a picture and its components inside a frame. Therefore, the edges of your photos or artwork will always be hidden from view, while inside the frame. If you want the entire photo to be visible, you need a clip frame.
  • Frame Rebate – Whenever you order a picture frame, keep in mind that the size is related to the approximate dimensions of the internal frame. Every frame should overlap your art piece by at least 2 to 5 mm on all edges. This helps the pictures from falling via the front of the frame. If you are not satisfied with the details visible on your frame and want to maximize the viewing area, contact a professional to determine the exact lip size you want and advise accordingly.
  • Mount Overlap – Whenever you order a picture frame, most stores deduct at least 10 mm from the width and height of the measurements you provided. This prevents the picture from slipping through the mount opening, allowing you to secure it into position.
  • External Size – If you are buying a picture frame for a gallery wall or want to install one inside a recess, you must consider the frame’s external dimensions. This will allow you to fit the frame into the desired position when hung on the wall.

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The 4 Tips for Choosing the Right Frame Size

1. Wall Space

You need to determine the available space for your pictures or artwork. Sometimes, one may want to use a big art piece with a wide matting to display their work in the best possible way. Yet, due to reduced space, displaying a big print could end up penalizing the work instead of increasing its value.

In such a situation, it is best to use a smaller frame to give your piece some breathing room instead of cluttering the space. When your pictures lack some breathing room, they will give a messy impression, which distracts viewers from the details of the photos you are trying to highlight.

Therefore, it is best to consider the amount of space available before choosing a frame size. Also, remember to accurately measure your pictures and double-check to avoid any fitting problems, especially when using custom-size picture frames.

Happy couple hanging picture on white wall together. Interior design
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

2. Number of Photos on Display

Displaying one photo is never the same as displaying several of them. When you want to showcase just one picture, a bigger frame is ideal, even when you add customizations or use a baroque frame design.

However, if you are hanging multiple photos on your wall space, you should coordinate colors, sizes, and designs of your frames.

The easiest option would be to use the same picture frame design for all your pictures. Nevertheless, you can use different frame types so long as they will create a harmonious composition.

3. The Subject of the Photo

Different photo subjects look appealing when displayed in specific frame sizes. For instance, group portrait photos will look unappealing when framed with a small 4″ x 6″ frame because the faces of the people will be too small.

Furthermore, you should also consider the size of the design of the frame. For example, if you are displaying different fine art pictures that highlight modern architecture, using a gold-leaf carved wood frame would end up being too contrasting.

So, make sure that your frame complements your art pieces or pictures, and the frame size allows you to highlight the contents of your artwork.

Unbalanced picture frame hanging
Image Credit: WangMing’Photo, Pexels

4. Style of Your Frame

When it comes to picture frame style, there are countless options available. You can opt for a modern minimalist type of frame that comes with a thin metal framing in a black or neutral color. Such a frame is ideal for displaying pictures with poster sizes.

A deep frame is also a popular style and is suitable for tabletop decorations. Since their appearance resembles a box, they tend to be very stable, but they also look appealing when hanging from the wall. Deep frames are perfect for displaying family photos.

Some designs also work better with matte pictures, while others are suitable for glossy photos. If for instance your pictures are already glossed, you can opt to forgo glass in your frame. The other frame styles you can expect to find in today’s market include floating, colorful, modern, baroque, and customized picture frames.

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To help you get started, we have highlighted the most popular and standard picture frame sizes retailing in the market. If the artwork or picture you are trying to frame is missing from the standard frame list, you can order a customized picture frame. Just make sure you give accurate length and width dimensions of your pictures to get a correctly sized one.

Different frame styles add varying measurements to the frame. Decide whether you want to use matting on your frame. Small-size frames do not necessarily require one, but for larger frames, a mat would be ideal. Just make sure the mat amount you add to your frame is double the overall inches visible to the outside dimensions of your frame.

That being said, frame pictures will allow you to display precious moments in your life. So, ensure that the frame size you choose does not limit the picture details and highlights everything you want your friends and family to view.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Peshkova, Shutterstock


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