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Picture Frame Glass

by Pat Schnurr. Published in SNAP Magazine, June, 2010

It is common to assume that the clear material you look through to admire artwork in a picture frame is always glass. But there are alternatives to glass, and so the general term used for this material is actually picture ‘glazing.’ There is no one material perfect for every condition, and they all have their respective pros and cons.

Regular Glass
This is the most common type of glazing, used 80% of the time. It is strong, resistant to scratches and relatively affordable. The most frequent problems with it include its breakability and its weight compared to other options. Also, regular glass filters only approximately 50% of destructing U.V. rays.

What is U.V. and how does it damage artwork?
Within the solar spectrum, the range called Ultra Violet (U.V.) consists of the shortest wavelengths of light (up to 380 nanometres). This range of non-visible light can damage objects, including interior furnishings.

U.V. light causes chemical reactions that, over time, fade or discolour artwork and underlying materials. U.V. exposure can cause paper and other materials to yellow and become brittle. Damage varies with the specific pigments and materials used.

Non-Glare Glass
Non-glare glass is great if your artwork is hanging right in front of a window. The protection factor is low, about 50%. Be aware that the non-glare glass properties will also make the image less distinct because of the etched surface. This ‘fuzzy’ image is personal taste since some people prefer the softening on some images like pastels.

Conservation Glazing
Filters out 97% of harmful U.V. rays. Glazing is a coating that can be added to most forms of glass or acrylic and it will significantly reduce any damage to your artwork due to adverse conditions.

Museum Glass
This is the ultimate in protection and viewing. Imagine standing inches away from a framed picture and not being able to tell whether or not there is any type of glazing on it.

Acrylic Glazing
This is a popular type of picture glazing, especially for galleries and shipping. The pros of acrylic picture glazing are that it is much lighter than glass, it is shatterproof, provides 60% protection from the harmful U.V. rays and it is available in both regular and non-glare forms. The cons of acrylic picture framing are that it scratches easily and is surprisingly expensive.

Lamination is a sheet of thin plastic, essentially melted or vacuum-sealed onto the surface of your picture. Lamination protects from dust and moisture, but is still easily bent or damaged. It is light and useful in a classroom, needing only push pins to display it on the wall. It is a permanent process and is recommended only for the display of items with little value.

You can also restore your antique picture frame glass with authentic “old-time” appeal with our special convex bubble glass.

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