The high price of cheap frames – DIY not!

high price of cheap frames DIY not

Sometimes we get an itch from being bitten by the DIY bug.  Picture framing can be one of those DIY projects that is more difficult than you think. Today we’re going to talk about times when you don’t want to DIY your frame. We’re talking about all the excellent ways a professional picture framer can make your project shine! So here it is, for your entertainment – The high price of cheap frames – DIY not!

high price of cheap frames DIY not

“If you couldn’t fix it with duct tape, you didn’t use enough duct tape.” – unknown


We included a lot of examples of stellar professional picture framing as examples.  Please don’t use duct tape on anything you care about! 😀

frame original painting prescott az

Um, yes please! This gorgeous antique angel painting looks like it has always been in this frame… even though the frame is brand new. Independent custom picture framers have unique options to find the perfect picture frame for you. This painting would totally die of shame in a plastic Big Box Mart frame.

Picture frames Prescott AZ

Tiger, Tiger… this tiny original painting is the size of a baseball card! It needed a great frame to make it pounce. Professional picture framers at the Frame & I made a hand-embellished mat with tiger stripes to help her roar! Frames are art for your art.


So, why not DIY? Well – many reasons spring to mind. We’ll make a list since lists seem to be the thing to do!

  1. DIY isn’t as cheap as you thought!  Have you ever seen a show or an article on DIY network or Pinterest that says you can make your own project using simple tools everyone has at home, and then find out that one of those tools is, like,  a miter saw? Yeah, uh, no – most people don’t have that carpentry equipment laying around. So, miter saw $150, blade $35 = project is already way over budget.   Before you buy that $150 mat cutter you might want to be sure you’re going to cut lots of mats (like at least 30 or more to breakeven). Will you use that tool ever again? If you probably won’t then it isn’t DIY – it’s hoarding! If you’re not going to make a hobby out of it, it isn’t worth the investment in tools.
  2. DIY isn’t always as easy or quick as you’ve been told! Picture framing has a bit of a learning curve. Cutting a mat by hand (and having it turn out beautifully) is difficult. Choosing colors that coordinate and don’t overpower the art can be challenging. Making four mitered corners come together without a miter vise or nail pinner can be dicey. Handling glass can be awkward, shattering (and painful). How do you hold it all together? Does it need a dust cover? Where does the wire go? Should you even use wire??? I don’t want to discourage anyone, but picture framing isn’t as easy as slapping four sticks onto something and calling it good. It is a skill that professional framers train and get certified in doing! Framing a picture at home with basic household tools can take many hours, and they can be frustrating hours… when you find finger prints or hair under the glass and have to clean it for the 18th time, or when the glass cracks and you have to slog back to the glass shop to buy another one, or when your duct tape falls apart on you…
  3.  DIY doesn’t always turn out well, and sometimes ruins things. Don’t believe me? Check out the Pinterest Fails blog. It’s a riot!
    DIY not!

    It’s hard to cut a mat by hand and easy to do it wrong!

    But it’s also really brutally honest about the results of some DIY projects… not only did the project fail but even greater damage occurred. A professional should be able to do it right, and have insurance for those rare times something goes wrong. When you’re considering doing it yourself, don’t let price be the driving factor. Ideally you’ll want to learn how to do something well and take pride in the craftsmanship. If you’re ONLY trying to be cheap, consider the long term cost. We framers see artwork, family photos and heirlooms destroyed by duct tape, cardboard and glue every day. So remember to take on the mantle of DIY carefully and consider the consequences if something goes wrong!

  4. DIY isn’t always the best use of your time. We’re not talking about high finance here. Do you ever think about what your time is worth? Reality is, we all have a limited number of days. How do you want to spend your time? Running around to three or four big box hardware and craft stores to find all the DIY supplies you need, using your day(s) off to assemble the project, running to the store again when you forgot something, receipts and bags everywhere, gas, mileage, snow or heat… You could be reading a book, watching a movie, cuddling your kids, playing a game, painting a picture, looking at cats on the internet… is this DIY project something you really love doing? Great! Call it a hobby. You’ll find though, if you’re not really into it, it’s just going to be a pain in the tuckus. Bring your picture framing project to a pro and go relax with your precious time off!  We professional framers are here for you! When that DIY project goes south we can help you fix it. 😉
picture frames prescott az

Yes, these could have been put into slightly cheaper plain black picture frames, and they would have looked OK. But just like the man said, “How ya like me now?” They are stellar! The colors go boom and give these silkscreens some real curb appeal. Since they’re an odd size, they would have looked off balance in ready made frames, too.

the high cost of being cheap DIY not

Navy veterans cap, medals and insignia in a bespoke acrylic case makes a statement piece that anyone would be proud to have. Custom picture framers can make this kind of display case for you, to fit everything perfectly. None of these items are taped or glued down and all are preserved for lifetimes.


high price of cheap frames - diy not!

You might have a miter saw at home. You might even enjoy cutting all of these angles to make this dome shaped frame. If you do, you’re probably a picture framer already! 😉 When it comes to cutting a double mat that repeats the dome shape and has rounded corners – you should call on a picture framer! Cutting this kind of shape by hand in thick matboard is best left to the pros.


the high price of being cheap DIY not picture frames

A slithery, scaly picture frame? Who thinks of these things? Custom picture framers do…of course! We eat, sleep, and breathe ways to make a picture look stellar. Like putting a sinuous, shiny frame onto this watery, fishy artwork! Off the shelf frame?  Nope! We want something perfect this time.

high price of being cheap DIY not

This commemorative ring was too beautiful to leave in a jewelry box. We crafted beveled mirror sides inside the frame to reflect the design on the sides of the ring. See it reflecting? This kind of frame is something that custom picture framers love to dream up. One of a kind and perfectly polished!

the high cost of being cheap DIY not

These photos are portraits of one individual, and each photo represents one year. The years are written in calligraphy below each photo and each photo is carefully attached to the backing. Picture frame shops can make mats like this to fit every photo exactly – no more trying to stuff your precious photos into a die cut, flimsy piece of paper. No more scotch tape sticking to everything. Have your picture framer lay everything out  and cut it perfectly for you! It’s worth it!