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Frame help for small paintings

I started painting on ampersand hardboard 1/8” thin variety but have no idea where to purchase frames that will accommodate this width. Where can I buy a frame with the correct rabbet width for these? I use mainly the 6x6 and 5x7 but have others I have yet to paint on. Help! Thanks for listening!

Just about any frame will accommodate 1/8" thickness, even photo frames. The depth of the rabbet is usually more than the 1/8" to leave room for mats. You could also consider floater frames at the size you are working.

It sounds like you want to use floater frames which allow you to paint to the edge of your panel. I glue my panels (with silicone glue) to a backer board (masonite or gatorfoam) and then frame the backer board in a regular frame. You can size the regular frame to show just a 1/8 inch reveal or you can have a wide expanse of the backer board showing. You will need to paint the backer board to a color which suits the presentation. I use a floater frame from Franken Frames which has a shallow rabbet and allows me to frame 1/8inch panels. If you want the opening of the frame to show a narrow reveal you can ask Franken Frames to cut the frame “sight size” to a specific size. That way the cut is based on the visible opening rather than the rabbet. King of Frame sells precut floater frames for small paintings which have a backer board already installed. I recommend using silicone glue which takes up to 24 hours to set up. It stays flexible even when cured so you can cut through it with a thin knife and release your paintings if you need to change out the frame.

Thank you David! I appreciate the advice!

Hi Gretchen. Not sure I want to use just floater frames. I like both contemporary and traditional type frames. Thank you for your advice! I appreciate your advice!

I love using floater frames and these are reasonable [https://www.jerrysartarama.com/3-4-inch-deep-illusions-floater-frames]. the inner level is just deep enough to hide the unfinished edge and provide a nice border for the painting. i use Velcro squares cut in half (diagonally) to make corners (triangular). they fit within the border mentioned above. Make sure the hook / fuzzy sides are consistent so panels can be interchanged. i have several buyers who change out the paintings by season or mood.

I find a regular frame covers too much of a 6x6 painting, so the floaters solve that situation as well. :slight_smile: Johnna


Johnna, thanks for the idea of changing out paintings using Velcro. This would work nicely for a painting series.

Mary, yes, you were asking for width, correct width for 6x6 and 5x7. I was thinking depth of the rabbet (groove). My mistake. Most frames leave a full quarter inch of rabbet width which is a lot to lose at that scale of 6x6, 5x7 (3/8 to 1/2" off the painting horizontally and vertically).
I generally usually use floater frames on small scale paintings but I have also framed this way when it is appropriate.
Most often I will use a mat which means I control the amount of painting overlap (the amount I will lose).
I rarely will frame without a mat at small scale but if you do you may find you have to use spacers to keep the painting from sliding side to side or up/down since small scale means tolerances are tight.
6x6 and 5x7 are standard sizes so any frame shop online or brick and mortar will have them. I googled it and every one had them so I did not include specific ones. You can even use a photo frame which are often less expensive than art frames.
If you plan on using a mat then of course you want to scale up proportionately to allow for the mat.

Really good idea Johnna! I am going to try it out. I don’t know how many times I have wanted to change out a painting that did not sell with a newer one for a upcoming show.

Really helpful comments here. I thank everyone for chiming in!! Have a wonderful weekend!


thanks David - I also use a black magic marker to “finish” the raw edge and use black frame (and black Velcro) - the frames are a very nice fit, but have a little wiggle room that might show (yes, I am a bit of a perfectionist!).

I have used the velcro technique too. Works great!

Yeah you frame like I do when I do them. Tightly framed although I paint the raw edge in oil. I have floated a painting tight, with only about 3/16" or 1/4 " reveal of the backing under the painting (or between the frame and painting) and painted that backing red or another color from the painting instead of black. With a black frame it makes for a striking but subtle accent without overpowering the small painting.

Hi Mary Kay,

Are you asking about rabbet depth in a traditional (not floater) frame? If so, the depth does not have to match the thickness of your panel. You can either use glazier’s points to secure the panel into the frame, or you can use offset clips - these are metal, shaped sort of like an open “Z”, and come in various sizes. These are screwed to the back of the frame. They also allow you to secure a thicker stretched canvas in a frame with a rabbet that is shallower than the thickness of the stretcher bar. Hope that makes sense!