Paint Types

Should Paintings Be Framed Under Glass? Pros and Cons Explained

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When it comes to displaying artwork, one common question that arises is whether paintings should be framed under glass.

While some argue that glass frames offer protection and preservation, others believe that it can hinder the viewing experience.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of framing paintings under glass to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Glass Framed Paintings

Before delving into the debate, let’s first understand what a glass framed painting entails.

A glass frame refers to a frame that encloses the artwork with a sheet of glass, protecting it from dust, moisture, and other potential damages.

The Importance of Framing

Framing plays a crucial role in preserving and enhancing the appearance of artwork. It provides structural support, protects against physical damage, and adds aesthetic value to the piece.

Pros of Framing Paintings Under Glass

Framing paintings under glass offers several advantages. Firstly, it provides protection by acting as a barrier against dust, moisture, and accidental damage.

This can be particularly beneficial for delicate artworks or pieces that are displayed in high-traffic areas.

Secondly, glass frames aid in the preservation of paintings by preventing fading, discoloration, and deterioration caused by exposure to light and environmental factors.

Lastly, glass frames are easy to clean, allowing you to maintain the artwork’s pristine condition effortlessly.

Cons of Framing Paintings Under Glass

While there are benefits to framing paintings under glass, there are also some drawbacks to consider. One common issue is the reflection and glare that glass frames can create.

This can make it challenging to view the artwork from certain angles or under certain lighting conditions.

Additionally, the presence of glass can create a physical barrier between the viewer and the painting, diminishing the immersive experience.

Lastly, glass frames can add weight to the artwork, making it more challenging to handle and transport.

Moreover, glass is fragile and prone to breakage, which can pose a risk to the artwork.

Alternatives to Glass Frames

If you decide against framing your painting under glass, there are alternative options to consider.

One popular alternative is using plexiglass, a lightweight and shatter-resistant material that offers similar protection to glass frames while reducing the risk of breakage.

Another option is UV-filtering acrylic, which provides UV protection, preventing fading and discoloration caused by sunlight exposure.

Additionally, some artists and collectors opt for frameless displays, allowing the artwork to be showcased without any physical barriers.

Factors to Consider

When deciding whether to frame a painting under glass, several factors should be taken into account. Firstly, consider the artwork’s medium.

Different mediums, such as oil paintings or acrylic paintings, may have varying preservation needs. Secondly, think about the display location.

The lighting conditions and environmental factors in the display area can impact the artwork’s longevity. Lastly, consider your personal preference.

Ultimately, the decision should align with your taste and the intended aesthetic of the artwork.

Framing Oil Paintings

Framing oil paintings requires careful consideration due to their unique properties.

Oil paintings need to breathe, and therefore, it is recommended to use a frame that allows for air circulation, such as a floater frame or a frame with a spacer.

These types of frames keep the artwork away from direct contact with the glass, allowing for proper ventilation.

Framing Acrylic Paintings

Acrylic paintings, being more flexible and less prone to cracking, offer more framing options.

However, it is still essential to choose a frame that provides adequate support and protection for the artwork.

Consider using a frame with a deep rabbet to accommodate the thickness of the canvas and ensure that the artwork is securely held in place.

Can You Put a Canvas Painting in a Glass Frame?

While it is possible to put a canvas painting in a glass frame, it is not always the best choice.

The decision depends on the specific artwork, personal preference, and the desired visual effect.

Some artists prefer to showcase their canvas paintings without glass to allow the texture and brushstrokes to be fully appreciated.

However, if protection from dust and moisture is a concern, using a glass frame with proper ventilation options, such as a spacer or a shadow box, can be a viable solution.

Painting on Glass Frame

Painting directly on a glass frame is a unique technique that can create stunning visual effects.

However, it requires specialized materials and expertise to ensure the longevity of the artwork.

When painting on glass, it is essential to use paints specifically designed for glass surfaces and apply a protective sealant to prevent chipping or scratching.

This technique can result in a captivating artwork that plays with light and transparency, but it is important to handle the glass frame with care to avoid breakage.

What Are the Best Storage Practices for Framed Canvas Paintings?

Proper canvas painting storage ideas are crucial for preserving the quality and longevity of framed artworks. Firstly, ensure the artwork is fully dry before storing. Wrap the painting in acid-free paper or glassine and cover it with a layer of bubble wrap. Store the painting upright in a temperature-controlled, low-humidity environment to prevent warping or mold growth. Regularly check stored paintings to maintain their condition.


The decision of whether to frame a painting under glass depends on various factors, including protection, preservation, viewing experience, and personal preference.

While glass frames offer valuable protection, they can also introduce reflections and create a physical barrier.

Consider the pros and cons discussed in this article to make an informed choice that aligns with your artistic vision and the artwork’s needs.

Whether you choose to frame your painting under glass or explore alternative options, remember to prioritize the longevity and visual impact of the artwork.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can glass frames cause damage to the artwork?

Glass frames, when used correctly, should not cause damage to the artwork. However, improper framing techniques or the use of low-quality glass can potentially harm the artwork.

It is essential to use acid-free mats, archival mounting materials, and UV-protective glass to ensure the longevity and preservation of the artwork.

Can I frame a watercolor painting under glass?

Watercolor paintings are often framed under glass to protect them from dust, moisture, and physical damage.

However, it is crucial to use a mat or spacers to create a gap between the artwork and the glass.

This gap allows for air circulation and prevents the watercolor from sticking to the glass surface.

How do I clean a glass framed painting?

To clean a glass framed painting, start by removing the artwork from the frame. Use a soft, lint-free cloth or a microfiber cloth to gently wipe the glass surface.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can scratch the glass.

If there are stubborn stains or fingerprints, dampen the cloth with a mild glass cleaner or a mixture of water and vinegar.

Ensure that the glass is completely dry before reassembling the frame.

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