Go big: Buying and styling large picture frames and art

Whether a painting or poster, a panoramic photograph or a wedding portrait - oversized pieces always excite and inspire. Pairing your artwork or photo with a bespoke frame enhances the overall look, so we thought we’d teach you how to frame extra-large artwork and photos.

Before we start, it’s worth asking; what counts as large artwork or frame? Commonly, a frame is considered large when it’s bigger than A1 (23 3/8 x 33 1/8 in or 594 x 841 mm). However, we’d say a frame is oversize whenever you need to consider wider mouldings, weight, fixing quality, and aesthetics. Why do you have to consider these additional elements? When you scale up, narrow wooden frames might not be suitable, as these thin frames will begin to bow or deform due to the weight.

Last year, just over 20% of our customers ordered a frame that was bigger than A1 in size. The majority of frame orders are for smaller-sized frames. But the bigger the frame, the more costly it gets, so it’s important that you’re in the know when buying an oversize frame.

The frame

If you’re framing a big piece of art, you’ll need a chunkier and stronger frame than a smaller piece might require. Fortunately, we have many wide frames sturdy enough to support framing even the most sizeable pictures. Check out our moulding size guide to see how big the frame should be for your art.

The mount

We love using mounts to enhance smaller framed pieces but prefer oversized frames mount-free. We ordinarily cut mounts up to 1200 x 815mm, but you can request oversize mounts by contacting us. Artwork doesn’t have to be big to make an impact. If your picture isn’t huge, consider using a gallery mount with extra-wide borders to increase the overall size and visual impact. It’s a subtle and sophisticated technique than can still influence the overall look of your room.

Glazing

Critically, you must choose a glazing option appropriate for the size of the frame. For example, we prohibit online orders for 2mm float glass in frames greater than 600mm in either dimension. Instead, our Clarity+ perspex is used as we consider this safer during transport (lighter and less breakable). It’s also less heavy as perspex is almost half as dense as glass, but you still get the same clarity and the added benefit of a UV filter. Finally, for bespoke projects, we use 3mm float glass and perspex; these thicker materials can be used in frames up to 2000mmm (2 meters) in size.

Split your art

Splitting a single large photo into separate images is known as a diptych (two-piece) or triptych (three-piece). It’s a popular look and forms the most basic gallery wall that allows you to furnish and cover large empty walls quickly and affordably. Whilst, in essence, this is a basic jigsaw puzzle composed of simple square or rectangular images, the finished effect looks gallery-worthy. If you want to know how to do this yourself, here’s a handy youtube video. When choosing a frame, keep it simple. Use the same frame for each of your prints (size and colour) and space them equidistantly apart. Your aim should be to keep the distance between prints to a minimum to allow for continuity.

One statement piece

Extra-large, one-off framed paintings and photography can bring balance to rooms with high ceilings by creating a focal point and drawing eyes upwards. Pair these enormous pieces with low furniture to increase the sense of scale without creating a look that feels cramped or forced. When choosing a frame for a single statement piece of art, you have two options. Keep it simple by choosing a frame with minimal proportions and straight lines, or embolden the art by framing it in a more unique moulding.

Gallery walls

If a single giant framed picture isn’t your vibe, but you want to cover an otherwise blank space, then a gallery wall might be more your thing. There are hundreds of possibilities, like choosing to mix and match your art or keep a unified theme, whether you opt for simple or more extravagant frames. There’s no right or wrong way to create a gallery wall; just make sure it fits your available space.

Blowing up your photos

Here’s a secret. You don’t have to spend a fortune on art. In fact, you might have a masterpiece idly sitting in your pocket in the form of your phone’s camera roll. Beautiful sunsets, selfies on holiday or your favourite family moments look fantastic framed. This is because modern phones can take pictures that can be blown up for printing and framing (without losing quality). You can easily do this online with our print and frame software. It automatically checks the quality of your picture and suggests what size it’ll look good on your wall. You can read more about print quality below.

Where to hang it

No matter how special your framed piece, be it art, a movie poster, an old map or a panoramic photograph, if it’s poorly positioned, it’ll stick out like a fly on a wedding cake. So what should you consider when deciding where to hang oversize artwork?

  • Scale – Make sure the art isn’t too small for the space. It’s a common mistake, and it can look tacky when you hang art that doesn’t fill the space well enough.
  • Orientation – Make sure to hang art in a way that’s in keeping with the wall proportions and shape. By way of example, don’t hang a portrait picture above a bed. The space above your headboard is horizontal, so hang a landscape to keep the overall look pleasing.
  • Vertical position – Framed pieces shouldn’t sit too far above your furniture or close to your ceiling. Aim to hang your art at eye level, keeping the centre point of your picture roughly 60 inches (150cm) above the floor.
  • Wall type – Oversized pictures with a weighty frame shouldn’t be hung on plasterboard walls unless you use special fixings. It’s preferable to hang heavy pictures on solid walls and you can read more about wall types and fixings below

Other things to consider

Width guide

Bowing and deforming frames are a common problem and indicate that the frame used is unsuitable for the chosen size. The frame’s bowing is a result of its inability to support its weight or dimensions. This is caused by the weight of the frame plus the weight of the glazing and MDF backboard. The bigger the frame, the heavier it gets. The risk of bowing is easily removed by choosing a frame suitable for heavier pieces. The width and depth of the frame’s moulding can indicate how well the frame will support oversized art. Refer to our table below to see what width frame you should order for your art.

Frame size Minimum moulding width
Up to 14×10″ (35 x 25 cm) 8mm
16×12″ (40 x 30 cm) 10mm
20×16″ (50 x 40 cm) 13mm
24×20″ (60 x 50 cm) 20mm
30×20″ (75 x 50 cm) 20mm
40×30″ (100 x 75 cm) 25mm
Above 40×30″ (100 x 75 cm) 30mm
Still unsure? Our customer service team are very knowledgeable and can let you know what to order.

These dimensions are available online for each of our frames. Typically ornate frames are designed with a wide profile which means they are solid and ideal for large artworks. In contrast, more contemporary minimalist designs will have thinner faces. In this situation, check the depth. Deeper frames tend to be stronger than shallow frames.

Another factor affecting the strength is the material from which the frame is made. The two most popular materials used in framing are wood and aluminium, the former being the most popular. Despite their popularity, wooden frames tend to be weaker than aluminium frames. This means you must choose a more substantial moulding when picking a wooden style vs aluminium. Aluminium frames are lighter and can support much bigger artwork while keeping a discreet, narrow look, making them perfect for a more contemporary or minimalist interior. What’s more, because they’re lighter, you can hang them on plasterboard walls more safely. You’ll need to consider using more heavy-duty wall fixtures and fittings if you choose wood.

Fixtures and fittings

Almost as important as the frame’s strength, your fixtures and fittings play a massive role in keeping your artwork and home safe. For example, large artworks are often framed in substantial mouldings, adding pressure to the attachment points. You risk damaging precious artwork, walls and furniture if you hang a heavy frame using inadequate fixings. Instead, use fixings designed to suspend your frame’s weight and size to ensure your frame is secured correctly. Usually, you’ll see a weight rating on the packaging of wall fixings, or our experts can advise you.

It’s worth researching what you’re screwing your wall fixings into, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

You need to make sure that your photos are a high enough resolution to be printed. If you’re buying a print from an online store, make sure it’s from a reputable source using quality inks and papers. Large frames can be costly, so don’t waste your money framing cheap artwork that fades or is blurry. Speaking of price, you might want to browse our range of cheap frames or see how you can save money framing.

If you’re printing a digital photo, we recommend making sure it’s printed between 150 and 300 dpi. The higher the DPI, the more detailed your print will be. We print using the latest Epson P9500 giclee printers on high-quality art paper. Our team can also provide feedback on image resolutions to determine the perfect print size. Our complete guide on print quality can be viewed online.

Dry mounting

Dry mounting is where the framer (us) bonds your print to a rigid substrate, like conservation grade mountboard or foamboard, to keep the print perfectly flat and prevent wrinkling over time. We typically do this for larger pictures (over 100cm) or push-pin maps, but it can be carried out on any size print. It’s an irreversible process, so never dry mount original or high-value artwork as it can entirely devalue the piece.