What are poster frames? What should you look for when buying?
Poster frames are an easy way to showcase art, photographs, or posters. While they contain all the same elements as standard picture frames, they are much more simple in design. By definition, poster frames are made for showing off large pictures, usually 11×17 and larger.
Standard poster frame sizes
It is only natural that standard poster frame sizes are matched to standard poster sizes. These have evolved over the years based on the size of movie posters, concert posters, and large format art prints. The standard poster frame sizes are listed below. As with standard picture frame sizes, remember that these dimensions show the size of the picture that fits inside, NOT the outside length and width of the poster frame.
- 11×17 poster frame
- 11 3/4 x 36 poster frame
- 16×20 poster frame
- 18×24 poster frame
- 22×28 poster frame
- 23×35 poster frame
- 24×36 poster frame
- 27×40 poster frame (so-called “One Sheet” or standard movie poster frame)
The border of the poster frame itself is almost always plastic, and a sheet of plexiglass or acrylic covers the artwork. The backing on cheap poster frames is usually cardboard, and the frame is built to be lightweight and easy to install. A hook is usually included on the back for quick and easy hanging.
As with standard picture frames, a mat can be installed. However, double matting is not common because poster frames tend to be thinner and more lightweight that standard picture frames. Check for posters with a built-in mat that fits your picture size, or make sure that the poster frame has enough depth to fit a mat.
Another great option is a snap frame. Snape frames for posters usually load the picture from the front. This allows you to change out the picture (often a movie poster) without taking the frame down. All four sides of the snap frame open for easy access. They come pre-assembled or as a kit that you put together yourself. These are a great choice for movie poster collectors, just be sure to get an archival quality snap poster frame!
Odd-sized art in poster frames
If your poster or artwork does not fit into one of the standard poster frame sizes listed above, don’t fret! There are a couple of different ways to address that problem, addressed in the article here regarding standard picture frame sizes: LINK
Archival and acid-free poster frames
One important point to consider when choosing a poster frame is whether the material used is archival or not. Are you hanging a cheesy poster just to spice up a bedroom, or is this a piece of art or memorabilia that needs to be preserved for many years? If it is the latter, consider choosing higher quality archival materials.
Archival Poster Frames
If you have valuable artifacts you are preserving and you have any doubts about whether a poster frame is fully acid-free and museum grade (archival) then consult a professional framer. This is especially true of cheap picture frames, which often use low grade, heavily dyed papers that will degrade your artwork over time.
A good start for an archival picture frame is acid-free paper in the backing and mat, and for that matter any surface that touches the print. According to wikipedia, acid-free paper is paper with a neutral or base pH (of 7 or a little higher). It is also sulfur- and lignin-free making it suitable to be in contact with prints that would degrade over time by touching acidic materials.
Acid-free is not the only consideration, however. UV filtered glass (conservation glass) protects your piece from UV rays that will break down the picture or degrade the color after even a few years depending on exposure. Conservation glass is very heavy and expensive, and if it breaks then your piece could become damaged.
High quality plexiglass poster frames are much preferred due to the lower weight and dust-repelling properties. Just be sure you don’t use ammonia-based cleaners on plexiglass and you’ll be good to go! Space is important too, make sure the print is not touching the surface of the glass/plexiglass or condensation may form on the inside of the frame!