How to Measure for a Picture Frame

Ready to measure your picture or artwork? The steps are easy which makes it convenient for ordering the frame of your choice. The words “frame size” refer to the dimensions of the recess (or “rabbet”) at the back of the frame into which the matboard, backing and glass are loaded.  For this reason, once you’ve determined the overall size of your matboard, backing and glass for a given project, you’ve determined your frame size.  

To order a picture frame for your picture that you will not be allowing for a mat border, follow the steps below:

  • First measure the length and width of your picture or art work edge to edge.
  • Taking those measurement, enter the length and width into the profile order page.
  • These measurements will allow us to make your picture frame 1/8 larger on each side to allow your picture to nest in the picture frame rabbet when assembled.

Note: All frames are designed and built 1/8″ larger on each dimension than the size called for.  This so called “allowance” is common in picture framing and is provided to make sure the mat and backing still fit into the frame even if they are cut a little too large.  You do not have to factor anything into your calculations for the allowance, just order the frame in accordance with the overall mat size and the allowance will automatically be added.  If you do not want an allowance, you should call us at (989) 550-7648

To order a picture frame for your picture that you will be using a mat border, follow the steps below:

  • First, measure the length and width of your picture or art work edge to edge.i.e the mat window size
  • .Then use the Table below for your picture frame size adjustment to allow for mat border


   Once you’ve determined your mat’s window size, use the Border Table to find right  borders for your window size.  The Border Table is a table that illustrates the best size border for your window size.   Summing the inches of any two dimensional spaces is the sum of its two dimensions.  So if your mat’s window is 12”x 14”, that’s 24 -just add the length and width . If your mat’s window is 14”x 16”- that’s 30 combined inches.Using the Border Table’s first column, find the range into which the measurement of your mat’s window falls. The adjacent column provides the  appropriate borders for that window.  Each of the mat’s four borders should be this width to start with. 

From an artistic point of view, the mat’s borders should not be any narrower as they will seem awkward in appearance.. However, the borders can be wider for a  more contemporary look.. So if you like a more contemporary look, then widen the borders illustrated in the Border Table.  If you prefer a more traditional look, use the border dimensions in the Table or widen them only fractionally.

Now if you’re intimated by fractions in your calculations using the Border Table, just widen the border width to the next full inch i.e. 1 3/4 to 2 inches. 

For Example:  Border  +  Window Width   +  Border   +  Overall Window Width 

                               2        +           12                  +        2       =           16″

Border  +  Window Width   +  Border   +  Overall Window Length 

                               2        +           14                  +         2      =           18″

                                               Overall Matt Size = 16 x 18

This is what you would enter into the frame calculator on the order page. 

Your mat size and your frame size will be the same dimension when you are finished measuring. That is because if you turn the frame over and look at the back, there is a recess called a (rabbet) which you load the mat, glass and backing of your picture, This dimension of this rabbet is considered the frame size as well as the mat size.  

Now all you have to do is purchase a frame in that size.  When it arrives, you will cut the mat to the same size and cut a window in it with the borders you’ve determined. 

Border Table

Frame Size Suggested Border
8″ to 11″ 1″
12″ to 17″ 1 1/2″
18″ to 24″ 1 3/4″
25″ to 36″ 2″
36″ to 44″ 2 1/2″
44″ to 56″ 3″