Choosing the Right Glass for Your Framed Picture

Choosing the right frame for a picture, whether it's a photograph, a print or a piece of original art, can be tricky. You want the frame to enhance the contents and bring out all the vibrancy without overshadowing it, and it also needs to fit well in the room where it will be displayed. With all that to think about, most of your effort will be focused on the frame itself.

There's another element of custom picture framing that can affect how the finished picture looks: the glass. People rarely give it much thought as it doesn't really contribute to the aesthetic effect. However, since it does the important job of protecting your picture, it's worth considering the type of glass you use. Here are the main options.

Basic clear glass

Your ordinary run-of-the-mill framing glass is fine for photographs and prints that can be replaced, but not much else. It will offer some level of protection to the frame's contents, but exposure to ultraviolet light will eventually cause fading. That makes it unsuitable for places where the sun will shine on your picture. It's also quite reflective, which can be distracting when it catches the light.

Conservation glass

There are various types of conservation glass available. The one thing they all have in common is that they filter out UV rays, so they stop pictures fading in sunny locations. Conservation glass is still quite reflective, though, so it's best not displayed anywhere with too much direct light.

Non-reflective glass

Some glass has a coating added that stops reflecting. It really helps your frame's contents to be shown off, because the glass is very clear and there's no light ruining the effect. However, conservation glass doesn't stop UV damage, so don't use it in sunny rooms.

Museum-quality glass

Museum glass is more expensive than other options, but it's worth it if you have a delicate original artwork or an old print that you want to protect. It has a high level of UV protection, keeping your precious pictures safe. This is combined with an anti-reflective coating, so you get the best qualities of other specialist glass types in a single frame.


Acrylic framing materials vary in quality, but the best can look as good as glass. It's also sometimes available with UV protection or an anti-glare coating. The most useful quality of acrylic is that it won't shatter if it's dropped or damaged, so it's good for children's bedrooms and parts of the house where people might knock it while walking past.