Custom Picture Frame vs. Off-the-Shelf – What’s the Difference?

When it comes to hanging a valuable work of art or a treasured picture, the way it’s framed can make all the difference in how it is displayed, shared, and appreciated. There are hundreds of different frame options on the market – but there are two main options when it comes to picture frames: custom or off-the-shelf. 

If you’re not aware of the differences between the two, not to worry. We’re here to help shed some light on the key features of custom picture frames and off-the-shelf frames to help you make the best decision. After all, if you’re paying a lot for art or have acquired a piece of significant sentimental value, you want to make sure it’s properly cared for and displayed, right?

What’s the difference between a custom and ready-made frame?

Ready-made frames are most often mass-produced in big batches based on common styles that are seen in most homes. You’ve probably seen them around — a standard black-coloured 4×6” frame with rectangular borders. Well, while there’s nothing wrong with using frames that are bought off the shelf, there’s also nothing particularly remarkable about them since they are put together based on a template. 

Custom-made picture frames, on the other hand, are made to order. These frames are designed around the artwork or picture to achieve an ideal spacing and framing effect. While they can be made to match standard picture sizes, they also have the flexibility of being formed into other shapes like octagons or custom silhouettes. 

Which brings us to our next key area of difference — customisation. 

Ready-made frames come in limited sizes, colours, designs, and materials. Unless you’re looking for a simplistic frame, you’ll be hard pressed to find an off-the-shelf frame that perfectly fits your artwork or picture. 

With custom picture frames, you’ll get to change almost every aspect of the frame to your liking. Naturally, you’ll also have a better selection of designs and quality frame material to choose from, such as engravings, matte finishes, and premium hardwoods. 

Last but not least, these two options will differ in overall quality. 

Generally, you shouldn’t expect ready-made frames to be made with top-quality materials — after all, there’s a reason why they are so much more affordable than custom frames. This means that off-the-shelf frames are sadly more prone to breaking when damaged, offering less protection for your artwork or pictures. 

Custom-made picture frames can be quite the investment, but you’ll get what you pay for. With higher quality materials and expert workmanship, these types of frames can last for years without needing replacement, giving you peace of mind and displaying your artwork beautifully. 

What are the standard frame sizes?

The most common sizes for photographs or pictures are 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″, and 8″ x 10″. Printed photographs usually come in these sizes, and the framing for them will depend on how much space you want to include around them with a mat, if at all. 

As a general rule, picture sizes 8″ x 10″ and larger should be framed with a mat to create a border around them for best effect. 

Here is the photo frame size list with dimensions in inches and centimetres:

  • 4″ x 6″  or  10.16 x 15.24 cm
  • 5″ x 7″  or  12.7 x 17.78 cm
  • 8″ x 10″ or  20.32 x 25.4 cm
  • 8.5″ x 11″ or  21.59 x 27.94 cm
  • 11″ x 17″ or  27.94 x 43.18 cm
  • 13″ x 19″ or  33.02 x 48.26 cm
  • 16″ x 20″ or  40.64 x 50.8 cm
  • 18″ x 24″ or  45.72 x 60.96 cm
  • 20″ x 24″ or  50.8 x 60.96 cm
  • 20″ x 30″ or  50.8 x 76.20 cm
  • 24″ x 36″ or  60.96 x 91.44 cm

What sizes are available for custom frames?

Custom frame sizes are not fixed — as long as you have the dimensions of your artwork or picture, a custom frame can be built around it with the appropriate mat border. With custom frames, sizing is not much of a concern, allowing you to focus on finding the ideal mat to border ratio to create a stunning display. 

How long does custom framing take?

Custom framing can take anywhere from a few hours to a week to be completed. The more complex the custom frame is, the more time it will take to craft it and fit your artwork or picture perfectly in it. 

Some picture framing companies offer a same-day service where your custom frame can be prioritised to be made, fitted, and ready for display on the same day. 

Cost difference between custom and ready-made frames

The cost for either option can vary based on the size and material of the frame, but custom-made frames will be more expensive than a comparatively sized off-the-shelf frame. The price for a custom made frames will start at atleast $100, depending on the level of customisation you opt for and the size of the artwork

But as we’ve said before, paying for a quality frame is a worthwhile investment, especially if your artwork has significant monetary or personal value. Getting a frame that is specially made for it is the best way to both display it and protect it at the same time. 
With so many options of ready-made frames and custom picture frames, it can be quite overwhelming to choose a frame that perfectly fits the aesthetic and size of your picture or artwork. If you’re still on the fence about which type of frame is the better choice for you, we can help. At Professional Picture Hanging, we are experts at finding the ideal picture frame for any type of photograph or art piece. Contact us today to find out how we can help you frame and hang your pictures with the best results. Better yet – once framed, we’ll also hang it for you!