Hand-Carved Picture Frames For Fine Art

Picture Framing Terms, Techniques & More

This glossary contains many common terms relating to framing techniques, tools, equipment and supplies.

Many of these techniques, tools, and supplies will be used in the production of your framing order.

These definitions of picture framing terms are to help you understand some basic concepts with regard to framing.

If you should have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.


Acid Free

Any material with a pH level higher than seven

Archival Paper

Paper that contains no acidity and has a neutral pH level of 7 or greater. Often provided with an alkaline reserve, to protect it from the acids in the environment.


A sticky material used to bond two or more surfaces together.

Alpha Cellulose

Pure cellulose that is present in every plant genus, but which is the structural part of wood. They are stripped of the naturally occurring acidic lignin which can be thought of as the “glue” that holds wood products together. Alpha cellulose wood fibers are used to create stable pulp based acid free paper. This is used in high quality paper mat boards, such as Bainbridge AlphaMat.

Anti-Reflective Glass

A specialty clear glass that has a coating which reduces or eliminates reflection. Anti-reflective glass is not to be confused with non-glare glass which has an etch. The object of this glass is to eliminate distractive reflections while giving the viewer the best perspective without the annoyance and distraction of glare.

Barrier Material

This material is used in framing packages to prevent acid movement from the wood molding to the art.

Buffering Agent

A chemical, usually calcium carbonate, that is added to paper pulp to regulate pH levels, keeping the acidity well above ph neutral, as a matter of fact the actual ph can be as high as ph 8.5. This is called an alkaline reserve, which helps protect paper products from self-destructing over time. These agents can neutralize, but not eliminate the naturally occurring acids in paper products. A


The process of protecting an object or piece of art from the environment.


In the art world, a conservator is a trained professional who restores artwork to as close to its original condition as possible. Most conservators are specialists, some only working on paintings, others only on paper art.

Cotton Linters

The fibers found in cottonseeds. These fibers are removed during the ginning process and become the basis of cotton (rag) based matting products.

Deckle Edge

When art paper is made, it is formed on a screen by drawing the screen through a vat of liquid paper pulp. This naturally leaves  frayed edges on the paper. Sometimes these edges are cut off to form a perfectly squared up piece of paper. Other times, the edges are left in place. The artist can place his image covering the whole piece of paper or he can only use part of it. In framing, sometimes the deckled edge is left showing and other times it is covered by a mat board.


The backing to a frame is usually a paper backing to the frame that serves the function of keeping dust, insects and other debris out of the framing package. The most commonly used dust cover is brown kraft paper.

Face Paper

The outermost paper on any type of mat or mounting board. Mat board is made of layers of paper, usually consisting of the face paper, a middle board and a backing paper. The face paper is the color that we see on mat boards, which enables us to have a variety of different colors which complement the art.


A decorative wooden strip that goes inside of a mat opening, usually complementing the moulding and helping to provide a cohesive and attractive design. Since fillets are made of wood, there should always be an acid free barrier between it and the artwork.

Float Glass

A special type of glass made by floating liquid glass over molten tin. This manufacturing process produces thin, clear and stable glass. All of the glass products that we use are manufactured this way.

Float Mount

A method of attaching the art in the framing package in such a way that the paper edges are visible.

Fugitive Colors

Certain colors are fugitive, which means that they are affected by heat and light in the environment. Dye based color are more fugitive than pigment based colors. The result is what we call fading. One way to lessen fading is by the use of ultraviolet filtering glass.


Technically a term for any glasslike substance that is used in a frame to protect the artwork from the environment. Glazing can be glass or acrylic (plexiglas), mirrors or any other material that provides protection to the surface of the artwork.


Any liquid or dry adhesive that is used to bond things together.

Hinge Mount

A mount that uses Japanese handmade paper and cooked starch paste as the adhesive . By using the starch to moisten a strip of fiber, the paper sticks to the strip of fiber. Another support strip can then mount the first strip and the art onto the board.

Japanese Paper

A type of paper made in Japan from plants native to the country. (Mulberry paper, Kozo and many more.) This paper is used for hinge mounting.


A natural component of wood fiber that is acidic, but which that acts as the binder holding the wood together. Think of it as glue.

Molecular Trap

Zeolites are chemicals that are added to mat boards. They act as an acidic sponge, removing acids and environmental pollutants from products that they are adjacent to. They help reduce the acidity in a framing package. Because of this property, it is possible to make artwork last even longer.


A ph-neutral polyester film made by DuPont. Its primary use is for encapsulation of documents. This process was developed by the Library of Congress to protect delicate papers.

Non-Glare Glass

A type of glass that minimizes reflection due to a very fine etch in its surface. This glass deadens artwork details, especially when used with some spacing between the art and glass. While still widely available, its use has diminished greatly due to the advent of anti-reflective glass products which show all the detail while minimizing reflective glare.

Polyvinyl Adhesive

An adhesive made from polyvinyl acetate, used to stick several types of porous materials together. This can be used on any type of board from wood to cardboard is most commonly used when joining picture frame corners.

Premium Clear Glass

Clear float glass. This is the entry level of glazing choices. It provides virtually no protection from harmful UV rays.


The process of protecting art from damage that can be caused by the environment that the art is displayed in or from the framing components.


Everything that a framer does should be non-damaging and reversible. This means that the piece could be removed from its protective frame with no changes to the art or its value. Some examples of this include hinge mounting and textile stitching.

Starch Paste

Adhesive paste made from purified rice or wheat starch. This is used to attach artwork to its backing in a non-invasive reversible way. It is acid free, non-staining and easily removable without leaving stains.

Ultraviolet Filtering Glass

Coated glass that keeps out 97 to 99% of damaging ultraviolet radiation. This has become the minimum standard of quality frame dealers.

Ultraviolet Radiation

An invisible spectrum of radiation below 400nm that can damage and deteriorate artwork. It is the primary cause of fading in paper art. It is also not good for people, which is why we wear sunscreen when we go outdoors.

Window Mat

A protective and decorative layer that keeps artwork from coming into contact with the glazing. It provides an air space between the art and the glazing. The window mat is available in many colors and can even be covered in fabric.