Choosing glass for your custom framing project

So, let’s say you’ve found a great painting at the Pocatello Farmers Market. You’ve brought it in to us here at Gallows and we worked together to choose the perfect frame material (molding) and matting. You’re done, right? Well… not quite.

There are several choices available when it comes to the type of glass, also known as “glazing”, or “facing,” that can be used. First, let’s talk about WHY glass is a customary piece of the custom framing puzzle.

Perhaps the most obvious reason is to protect the art from dust and scratches. Most ready-made frames come with what we call basic glass or styrene, which is an acrylic and is popular for it’s light weight,  affordability, and resistance to shattering. The problem with basic glass and styrene is that they offer no protection from the most ruthless killer of artwork and photographs – UV light.

UV light is the second, and most important reason that glass is used to cover most artwork. So what’s the big deal with UV light?

Laura Stirton Aust, of ARTcare, adds, “Light is an unavoidable hazard to art materials, especially paper.  Light causes weakening and discoloration of paper fibers.  It also causes many dyes and pigments to fade or change in color.  The damage from light is not reversible.  Faded pigments can not be put back and light burn will unevenly stain paper.  Therefore decreasing exposure to all light, especially ultraviolet (UV) is a significant concern in protecting artwork. ”

Thanks to advances in technology, plain ol’ glass has come a long way. There are three main options you can choose from:


Conservation Clear® picture framing glass offers the highest level of UV protection available in the industry.  This glass effectively blocks up to 99% of UV light rays to protect against fading and help keep framed pieces brighter, longer. The UV blocking coating is baked into the glass substrate, resulting in a permanently bonded coating.

Conservation Reflection Control® glass has a matte-like finish that scatters light to minimize unwanted glare.  Like Conservation Clear®, it effectively blocks up to 99% of UV light rays to help protect from fading and deterioration. Unfortunately, many matte-finish products seem to dull colors. But this product achieves over 97% light transmission to enhance colors, brightness and contrast levels. No dull artwork here! It’s ideal for art that will be placed under lights or near windows, or anywhere that there is potential for reflection issues.

Museum Glass® anti-reflection picture framing glass is the best of the best. Along with its nearly invisible finish, it effectively blocks up to 99% of harmful indoor and outdoor UV light rays so framed pieces remain clearer and brighter for longer. It also reduces reflection by over 85% (to less than 1% of total light),which is the lowest possible reflection rating available with UV protection.

Keep in mind that not all artwork should be covered in glass. Acrylic and oil paintings, or any canvas should not be glassed in.

For everything else, we have all three options available and can even show you how a piece of artwork looks behind all of them. Come see us!


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