If you’re new to the world of framing, you might be wondering what “archival framing” is, what sets it apart from non-archival framing practices, and why it matters to you.

There are many elements that make up an archival quality frame, each with its own role in conserving the life of your framed piece of art. When you choose a professional framer who follows archival framing best practices, you can be sure that your framed piece will last well into the future.

What is Archival Framing?

Archival framing is a term interchangeable with the term “conservation framing.” These terms are used throughout the framing industry, referring to a framer who uses the very best picture framing practices and materials to ensure the piece will last.

If a framing job isn’t archival quality, then it’s a different story. Non-archival quality framing materials contain acid that can discolor your photos and art. They don’t protect against ultraviolet light, meaning that sunlight, or even fluorescent or phosphorescent light can damage your piece. Finally, they can let in dust and even tiny insects that can ruin your piece.

This is why, when it comes to framing your photos and art, archival framing matters to you.

What Makes a Frame Archival Quality

Conservation Quality Glass or Acrylic

Archival framing doesn’t use ordinary glass, which can let ultraviolet rays pass through, which in turn will damage your art. To protect against this, special glass or acrylic is used which is manufactured to filter out 97 to 99% of ultraviolet rays. These high quality materials will keep your piece looking sharp, protecting it from sunlight, incandescent light, and fluorescent light.

100% Acid Free Matting Material

There are many kinds of mat board, but archival framing practices only use 100% acid free mat board such as cotton rag or Virgin Alpha-Cellulose mat board. These materials are naturally 99% acid-free, but are then boosted to 100% through a buffering process. When it’s complete, the mat board actually is 2-3% alkaline in order to offset any acids that might be in the air.

Acid Free Adhesive

A hinge is what adheres your art to the backing. If you use a hinge with any acid content, it can discolor your art over time. This is why archival framing incorporates 100% acid free adhesives such as Japanese wheat or rice paste.

Paper Dustcover

A paper dustcover will prevent dust and insects from sneaking into your framed work of art, while allowing the art to breathe at the same time.