Glossary of Picture Framing Terminology- Heritage Frame & Picture Co.


Below is a glossary of terminology associated with the art of picture framing. These will allow you to better understand our business and how to make the best selection as it relates to picture framing, art installation and decorating. Please take a moment to review the terminology. For professional custom art framing, art restoration and art installation, call Heritage Frame & Picture Co. at (212)233-3205 or (914)332-5200.

You can also visit our showroom:
Heritage Frame and Picture Co.

8 Main Street, Tarrytown, NY 10591.

You can email Ted Howell, the President and Owner of Heritage Frame & Picture Co. at Ted@HeritageFrame.com

Please download our brochure by clicking here.



Allowance- This allows extra space in the widths and lengths of the frame to ensure all that go into the frame (photo, matting, mounting boards, backing and glazing) have an accurate fit. It provides space for expansion of the paper-based materials to expand and contract to changes in temperature and humidity.


Antiquing- This enables one to mimic the appearance an antique picture frame. Antiquing is accomplished with the use of a buffing chemical, scratching and painting.


Archival framing- This framing philosophy is focused on protecting and preserving the photo. With archival framing, only acid-free materials come in contact with the photo. The mounting techniques employed are reversible which means the photo can be removed from the frame without damage.


Artwork Size- the measured size of the actual image, not including borders or paper size.


ATG Tape- Adhesive Transfer tape also called snot tape, a double-sided adhesive used in picture framing to secure mat boards and dust covers. This tape creates a strong, durable bond with plastic, metal, vinyl, cloth, and other materials, making it ideal for framing and other home projects. Acid-free versions of ATG tape ensures your art, photos and prints won’t be damaged when mounting mat board or scrapbooking.



Back Paper -aka a dust cover, is liner paper adhered to the back of a frame. The back paper keeps dust and insects out of the frame package. It also helps reduce fluctuations in humidity, limits the infiltration of environmental gases, and gives your framed artwork a professional look.


Backing. Also called the mounting board, is where the photo is attached before it is placed inside the frame. The backing keeps the photo in place and to prevent the photo from creasing and warping.


Beveled Edge- when the inside edge of the mat board window is cut to a 45 degree angle.



Cardstock- specialized craft paper that is thicker and stiffer. This can serve as backing of the photograph or artwork to prevent it from buckling.


Canvas Floater Frame- a type of frame used to display a gallery wrap canvas. This frame allows the entire front surface of the canvas to be visible. Any color applied to the canvas wrapping the sides of the stretcher bars will be somewhat visible in the ‘float’ space.


Conservation Framing- a type of framing- including materials such as mat board, mount board, glass and acrylic- that keeps the artwork as unaltered as possible while using materials which minimize the artwork’s deterioration by environmental factors.


Conservator- a professional who specializes in the restoration and conservation of artifacts such as photographs, artwork, and documents. Conservators examine artifacts, determine their condition, suggest methods for treating them and recommend preventive conservation techniques to their owners.


Contemporary style- This pertains to the design and finishing of the frame. A contemporary picture frame usually has simple, clean lines accompanied by the use of natural wood grains or a shiny metallic finish.



Double Mat- consists of two (2) mat boards (top and bottom). The window (opening) of the bottom mat surrounds the image. The top mat covers the bottom mat. It has a larger window, which allows a small border of the bottom mat, called the reveal, to be shown.


Dust Cover- a liner paper adhered to the back of a frame. Dust cover keeps dust and insects out of the frame package. It helps reduce fluctuations in humidity, limits the infiltration of environmental gases, and gives your framed artwork a professional look.



Enamel- For wood frames, an extra layer of enamel is added to the wood for aesthetics and protective purposes. Enamel can be semi-transparent or opaque.


Euro Hanger- a device for hanging pictures. Two hangers are needed to hang a picture - one on each side. The hangers are normally positioned 1/3 of the way down the from the top of the frame. A screw driver is used to tighten the set screw. The hanging wire is threaded through the eyelet.



Fillet- also called enhancers or slips, are thin, decorative pieces of picture frame moulding. Fillets are often placed inside a larger frame or between mat boards.


Finger-Jointed Wood- many picture frame mouldings are made with finger-jointed wood. Finger-jointing is a process where short lengths of timber are bonded together to produce longer lengths. Finger-jointing reduces wood waste by utilizing shorts to create a dimensionally stable and environmentally friendly product.


Flat Head Screwdriver- a screwdriver that is designed to fit into slotted screws.


Float Mount- a mounting technique where the edges of the artwork are left uncovered by a mat board. With this application the artwork appears to be floating within the frame or mat board window. Artwork can also be float-mounted on a piece of black or white foam core without a mat.


Foam Core- the board on which artwork is mounted upon inside of a picture frame. Foamcore mount board is a light, but stiff material that is commonly available in white and black. Acid-free varieties are available for conservation framing.


Frame size- When buying a picture frame online and choosing a frame based on frame size, remember that this refers to the frame’s inside opening and not the outer edges of the frame. When computing for the right frame size, consider the largest opening you will need to reveal the photo.



Gallery Wrap- a modern style of displaying art in which a canvas is stretched so that it wraps around the sides of a thick wooden frame and is secured to the back of the frame. It is suitable for displaying without a picture frame, or can be mounted in a Canvas Floater Frame.


Glare- bright and dazzling reflected light.


Glass- a type of glazing used in picture framing. Glass is commonly composed of sodium carbonate, lime and silica (sand).


Glazing- the generic term for the glass or acrylic used to cover and protect artwork in a picture frame.



Hanging Kit- contains the components necessary to hang an assembled picture frame. A wood frame hanging kit will contain screw hole hangers with screws, hanging wire and protective wall bumpers. A metal frame hanging kit will contain omni hangers for attaching the wire to the frame, hanging wire and protective wall bumpers.


Hardware- the hangers, brackets, screw eyes and other materials used to assemble a metal picture frame.


Hinging- a term for adhering the components of a picture frame together including: hinging the mat board to the mount board, hinging the picture to the mat board, or hinging the picture to the mount board.



Jersey frame. This is a specialized display case that is designed to showcase a sports jersey.




Landscape- a genre of art in which the natural outdoor environment is the main subject, using natural features as the basis of the composition.


Lip. This refers to the picture frame’s inner edge. The lip prevents the glazing and other components of the frame from falling out. The lip also serves to hide the rabbet. The lip can be beveled or ornamented.



Mat Board- material that covers and protects the image. Mat boards have a window (also known as the exact mat opening) cut in the center through which the image can be viewed. In addition to protecting the image, mat boards are available in many different styles and colors for the purpose of enhancing artwork.


Microfiber- a term that refers to synthetic fibers that measure less than one measure of linear density used to describe the size of a fiber or filament which is known as a denier. The shape, size and combinations of synthetic fibers are selected for specific characteristics, including: softness, durability, absorption, wicking abilities, water repellency, electrodynamics, and filtering capabilities.


Moulding- the material of the picture frame. Mouldings can be detailed or minimal.


Mounting- the act of attaching artwork to the mat board, mount board, backer or display board. One way of mounting is by using hinging.


Multi-Opening Mat Board- a mat board with more than one window opening. Multi-opening mat boards are often used for photo collage projects.



Non-Glare Acrylic- acrylic with a matte finish etched on one side to reduce glare from lighting. It is has no tint and may cause a slight loss in sharpness.


Non-Invasive Mounting- This refers to any reversible process of attaching the photo to the mounting board. With this, a photo can be easily removed from the frame without damaging it. Some non-invasive mounting methods include the use of adhesive photo corners and hinging techniques.



Ornamentation. This refers to the decorations on the picture frame molding. Some examples of ornamentation are beading, medallions and flower-and-leaf designs.


Omni Hanger- similar to the Euro Hanger, the Omni Hanger is a trade name for a picture hanging device. Two hangers are needed to hang a picture - one on each side. The hangers are normally positioned 1/3 of the way down the from the top of the frame. A screw driver is used to tighten the set screw. The hanging wire is threaded through the eyelet.


Overlap- a term that refers to how much of the artwork will be covered by the mat board. A standard mat window opening overlaps anywhere from 1/8" – 1/4" of the artwork.



Paper- a material made of cellulose pulp, derived mainly from wood, rags, and certain grasses, processed into flexible sheets or rolls by deposit from an aqueous suspension, and used chiefly for writing, printing, and drawing


Phillips Screwdriver- a screwdriver that is designed to fit into Phillips head screws (cross-shaped screws).


Picture Frame- the structural support for the artwork that provides an attractive border.


Picture Frame Size- this refers to the size of matted/mounted artwork. This can refer to the outside frame size, which is the exterior dimension of the frame with the moulding. Galleries will often ask for this dimension because they need to know how much wall space to allow for in an exhibition.


Plein Air Picture Frame- "en plein air" is a French term that translates to "in the open air". In the art world it is used to describe the acting of painting outdoors. Plein air painting is often associated with the Impressionist art movement. A plein air frame is usually a wide flat moulding with a raised and rounded top edge. Plein air frames are ideal for canvas art.


Plexiglas®- a brand of conservation grade acrylic glazing.


Ply- a ply is a layer within a mat board. High quality mat boards are manufactured in plies, dyed for color and laminated together.


Point Driver- a hand-held device that fires points with pneumatic-like force into a picture frame. To operate, press the nose of point driver against the rabbet and squeeze the handle. For the most accuracy, make sure the bottom of the point driver is flat against the surface of your table.


Point Squeezer- a vicing tool that squeezes the point into the rabbet. Point squeezers have an adjustable magnetic anvil that holds the point in place while squeezing. The opposing jaw is fitted over the frame, then the handle is squeezed, closing the jaws and pressing the point into the rabbet.


Points- thin metal tabs used to hold the mat, mount board and/or glazing inside of wood picture frames. Some points are stiff while others are flexible to allow access into the frame.


Portrait- a depiction of an individual's likeness. Portrait styles include: head-and-shoulders, bust, three-quarters and full-length.


Portrait Orientation- a layout that is taller than it is wide.


Pressure-Sensitive Mounting- the application of bonding artwork to a substrate, such as foam core, using an adhesive that activates when pressure is applied.


Profile: The curves and design of a frame. A picture frame's profile includes the height, width and rabbet (channel on the frame's underside in which the materials sit), and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.



Rabbet- the inner lip or groove of the picture frame, which holds the frame’s glazing, mats, artwork and backing.


Rabbet Depth- the height or depth of rabbet. This measurement tells you how much room you have inside for the frame’s components.


Rag Board- matboard from non-wood products such as cotton linters, or cotton which are naturally lignin-free, stable and durable.


Reveal- a term used to describe the small bottom or middle mat border left visible in a double or triple mat application


Reverse Bevel- a reverse-bevel cut positions the bevel inside of the mat window so that it is not visible. It gives a straight edge to the mat window.


Reversibility- describes the ability to undo a framing or mounting treatment, returning the object to the condition it was in before treatment.


Riser- the amount of distance between the top edge of the stretcher bar and the broad flat top of the stretcher bar. The riser determines how much distance you will have between the canvas and the top face of the stretcher bar.



Sawtooth Hangers- small metal bars with a serrated (sawtooth) edge that are used in place of hanging wire. Sawtoothed hangers are best for lighter weight picture frames.


Screw Eyes- screws with a loop at the end. These are used to attach hanging wire to the back of a wooden picture frame.


Shadow Box Frame- a deep frame with glass or acrylic in front traditionally used to display personal mementos such as military medals, antique jewelry, old coins, sports memorabilia and children’s toys.


Single Mat- one mat whose window (opening) surrounds the image.


Spacer- holds the artwork away from the surface of the glazing. Spacers can be made of plastic, wood, mat board or foam core.


Stretched Canvas- a canvas that has been mounted onto a stretcher bar support framework in preparation for framing or hanging.


Stretcher Bar Frame- a type of heavy wooden frame designed for a canvas to be wrapped and secured around it.



T-Hinge- a method for attaching artwork to the mount board. The top of the artwork is adhered while the bottom hangs free. Used when the mat board will be covering the edge of the artwork.




V-Groove- a type of matboard cut where a thin line is cut around the top mat’s window opening. The v-groove exposes the matboard’s inner core color. It’s a purely decorative cut done for the sole purpose of generating extra focus on the artwork.


V-Hinge- a method for attaching artwork to the mount board. Similar to the T-hinge except it is used when the mat board will not be covering the edge of the artwork.



Wall Bumpers- small, felt-covered or soft rubbery plastic adhesive-backed disks that provide a cushion between the frame and the wall. Bumpers also help the frame hang flat against the wall.


Window- also known as the exact mat opening, the window is the opening cut in a mat board through which the image can be viewed.


Artwork, for thousands of years has been something that people appreciate because of the many aspects and various ways it can make people feel. Not one piece of art is the same, each is special and should be treated as such. By framing these masterpieces it helps preserve the quality and value of the art. After becoming familiar with terms you will have a better understanding of the product that you will be purchasing and it can help you decide what type of momento you want to have framed and also  give an idea of the location you want your framed work to be.