How To Measure A Picture Frame

measure a picture frame

Here at Frame It Easy, we aim to make the seemingly overwhelming process of ordering custom picture frames well, easy. Part of the way we do that is by simplifying what may be daunting to many of us — getting the right measurements! But once you determine the main measurement — the size of your art — our interactive site guides you through the rest of the process.

You simply measure your art before ordering your frame and then enter its dimensions in Step One on our Design Your Frame page and you can see the overall size of the frame you have chosen. If, however, you find you need to tweak the measurements of your frame — whether you have limited wall space and need to figure out if your fully constructed frame will fit, you’re planning a gallery wall and want the outside frame dimensions to be uniform, or are getting really creative and want frames of varying sizes — we want to empower you with the knowledge to know what’s what.

Here we’ll take you through some common frame components and measurements to ensure it will fit your needs.

What Are The Parts of A Frame?

thickness of frame

Before we get into how to measure a frame, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with its parts, as well as some common terminology.

First, there is the frame itself — four sides that are bound together at the corners. Your art is what goes inside, and could potentially have matting (a decorative accent) to go around it. The cover is what protects the front of your art (ours is made from acrylic), and the backing is what protects the backside of your art. The rabbet of a frame is the inside depth of a frame or the size of the “channel” in which your art/matting/cover/backing fit into — this affects how thick of a piece of art a frame can accommodate.

(If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide for each part of a frame, check out our guide on Everything You Need to Know About Buying Picture Frames Online.)

In terms of measurements,

  • your art size denotes the measurements of your actual piece of art
  • matting size is how much of the matting is visible (on each of the four sides)
  • the outer/outside frame dimensions denote the full measurements of the final frame — i.e. how much space it will take up on the wall*

*You can view a frame’s outside measurements by hovering over the “Details” button next to your art size in our frame designer.

So let’s say that your art size is 8″x10″ — if you order no matting, your frame’s outer dimensions should be fairly close to 8″x10″, though it will always be a bit larger to account for the width of the frame itself. (For example, if you order a frame to fit an art size of 8″x10″ in the Derby style on our site, the outer dimensions of the frame will be 10 1/16″ x 12 1/16″ since each side of the Derby frame is 1 1/4″ wide.)

If you add matting to your frame, this also makes the overall outer dimensions of the frame larger as well.

Measuring the Inside of a Frame

inside size of frame with matting

The inside of the frame is what we, in most cases, refer to as the “Art Size,” the exception being if “Matting” is included. If matting is included, the inside frame dimensions will be the total of the art plus matting.

The inside measurements of a frame will also indicate the size of the cover and backing.

Measuring a Matboard

matboard sizes

If you choose to add matting to your frame, you will choose the number of inches that will be visible. Just keep in mind this applies to all four sides. So if you choose 1 1/2″ of matting, it will have 1 1/2″ visible on the top, bottom, left, and right.

We understand that matboards can be a tricky subject — sizing, color, single or double…there are tons of questions you might have! We have many matting posts in our Learning Center to help you through, from how to frame art smaller than 5″ x 5″ to the different matboard styles for your frames and plenty more.

Measuring the Outside of A Frame

measuring the outside of the frame

To measure the outside of the frame, simply place one end of your tape measure as close to the outermost corner as possible and track the measurements until you reach the end of the frame at the opposite outermost edge. Do this for the opposite side, too, to get measurements for both width and height.

Ordering Based on Outside Frame Measurements

wall space for frames

You might have an empty spot in your frame gallery that you want to fill, and you have an exact amount of space to fill — no more, no less. If this is the case, you’re probably more concerned about the “Outside Frame Size” than you are the “Art Size” — or opening — of the frame. Even if you’re uploading your photo to us for printing, you might want to know what the outer frame size will be more than the art size itself.

While our frame designer does base measurements off of the “Art Size,” your project may require a bit of an alternative building process. That’s okay! Our site isn’t necessarily built for it, but you can still engineer a frame around its “Outside Frame Size.” There are just a few things you need to know before doing this.

Know What Frame Style You’re Using

different frame styles

Because our site works from the “Art Size,” you’re going to need to know what frame style you’re working with to calculate the outer dimensions. Each frame has different thicknesses; this means that they will add varying amounts to your overall measurements.

The following table explains exactly how much thickness will be added with the style frame you choose:

  • Derby adds 2 1/16″ X 2 1/16″ to your overall measurements.
  • Dayton adds 2 1/16″ X 2 1/16″ to your overall measurements.
  • Granby adds 1 3/16″ X 1 3/16″ to your overall measurements.
  • Hanover adds 3/16″ X 3/16″ to your overall measurements.
  • Ashford adds 3/16″ X 3/16″ to your overall measurements.
  • Hammond adds 1 5/16″ X 1 5/16″ to your overall measurements.
  • Stafford adds 2 5/16″ X 2 5/16″ to your overall measurements.
  • Bradford adds 1 5/16″ X 1 5/16″ to your overall measurements.

This is a great tool to base your framing off of. For instance, as we saw earlier if your “Art Size” is 8″ X 10″ and you select the Derby style, your outside measurements will be 10 1/16″ X 12 1/16″. If you are looking for something larger, that same 8 X 10 “Art Size,” with a Stafford frame changes your outside measurements to 10 5/16″ X 12 5/16″. If you need something smaller, the Ashford frame would give you an 8 3/16″ X 10 3/16″ overall measurement.

There is, however, one other major consideration…

Be Aware If Adding Matting

frame with matting

If you want particular outside dimensions to your frame and a matboard, you might be better suited to ordering both items separately. This will give you more options for designing the exact dimensions of each.

That said, just remember the following and you’ll never be too far off: The amount of matting you add to the frame will double the amount of “Inches Visible” to its outside measurements. So, if you have 2″ of matting to your frame, your frame’s outside measurements will expand by four inches. For 1″ of matting, your frame will expand by two inches.

Taking The Measured Approach

frame sizes

Measuring is at the heart of framing, whether you’re measuring your art, or, in this case, the frame itself. Just remember the following things when ordering from our site, and you should be good to go:

  • To view the outside dimensions of your frame, hover your mouse over the Details button next to your art size.
  • Remember different frame styles add different measurements to the frame.
  • The amount of matting you choose will double the overall inches visible to the overall outer dimensions of your frame.

Math can always be a bit tricky, so if you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to us. We’d definitely be happy to help you out!

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