The importance of an air space in a picture frame

In this post, I am going to talk about the importance of an air space in a picture frame.  I have had a number of customers who have come in to get an old favourite re-framed and there hasn’t been the all important air space between the picture and the glazing.  This often happens when someone frames a picture themselves and uses an off the shelf frame without a mount.  This means that the image is pushed up against the glass.  It is unlikely that a reputable picture framer would ever do this unless it was the specific instructions of the customer and with that would come a disclaimer.

“Why does it matter?” I hear you ask.  The air space prevents the condensation that forms on the inside of the glazing from touching the picture.  This condensation is rarely visible to the naked eye.  Where the surface of the picture comes into contact with this, it can become stuck to the glass, and the moisture can cause other kinds of deterioration as well.  The condensation is formed by changes in temperature and humidity that a framed picture will be subjected to when hanging in a home or office or any other place where temperature and humidity are not regulated.

Image Imprint on Glazing
Image Imprint on Glazing

To illustrate the importance of an air space in a picture frame, the image shown is of the glazing from a frame that had been removed from an original print of some houses.  You can clearly see the imprint on the glass where part of the image surface had transferred onto the glazing.  Luckily in this case the print came away without any obvious damage and was re-framed successfully (and correctly).

The methods for creating an air space include using a windowmount (the depth of the mount card is sufficient), or if a windowmount is not wanted in the frame design, to include spacers between the glazing and surface of the image.  Spacers can be visible and part of the design, or invisible and hidden under the frame rebate (the inside edge of the moulding that holds the glazing in place).

If you have any framed pictures that are precious to you, whether they be family portraits, historic photos, original or limited edition prints, original artwork, textiles etc. and you are not sure whether the framing may be damaging them, give me a call and we can arrange an appointment for you to come over to my workshop where we can take a look.  I can either put your mind at rest that the framing is fine, or give you a price for re-framing (either within the original frame if it is in sufficiently good condition, or in a new frame of your choice).


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