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How to Frame and Display Paper Prints
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How to Frame and Display Paper Prints

The options for framing and displaying your paper prints are nearly endless, but we’ve put together this article to help guide you through the process and get you started.  

Understanding Framing Options

A framed print of a vintage photograph of a ferris wheel hanging on a wall above two small display tables

Paper prints will need to be framed in order to be safely displayed. Protecting the prints behind glass ensures that the print surface is safe from scratches and damage, as well as from the accumulation of dust and dirt. Whatever option you choose to frame your prints, we recommend looking for archival, acid-free framing materials. This will ensure that the framing materials don’t cause your print to yellow or discolor over time. 

Premade and Basic Frames

If you have a standard-size print and don’t need anything fancy or ultra-specific, you may be able to find a premade frame that work for you. These frames are made in standard sizes, and can be found with and without a mat. There will be limited options, most of which are on the more basic side. 

Even with the limited options, you’ll still be able to find a small range in terms of style and quality. 

Custom Framing Options

If the premade options on the shelves don’t suit your needs or preferences, you can look into custom framing options. If you have one in your area you can work with a local, small business for your framing. Alternatively, many craft stores, such as Micheals, have dedicated framing departments that offer custom framing. With either of these options you’ll be able to work with a framer in person to make decisions about your frame. You’ll be able to look through various options for mats and frames and put together the options that work best for you. 

Framed print of a photograph that matches the decor of the room

If you don’t have either of these options available, custom framing can also be done through online companies. With these options, you can browse an online catalogue to find mats and frames that you like. 

Custom framing will be more expensive than premade frames, but is often worth the investment to find higher-quality materials and have access to the expertise of professional framers. 

Unique Ways to Display Framed Prints

No matter what your space looks like there’s plenty of options for how to display your framed paper prints. 

Create a Custom Gallery Wall

Creating a gallery wall is a great way to fill a large space. Gallery walls can be arranged in all sorts of ways. You can create a more organized look by displaying a group of prints of the same size in a grid formation. Or, you can be much more freestyle with it. You can display prints of varying sizes and styles with unique frames. If you’d like to read more about gallery walls and get more in-depth tips to get started, you can read our article on the subject here

Prints as Decor Centerpieces

If you have a large space to fill, such as above a couch, a great option would be to display a large print in the space. Many of the images in our collection at Old Town Print Gallery are available in sizes up to 30x40 or larger. These images would make unique centerpieces in your decor. Vintage photography prints can be a unique element in your decor, and a large print is a perfect statement piece. 

Display Prints with Travel Souvenirs 

If you’re looking for a particularly unique decor option, you can display vintage photographs taken in places you’ve traveled to alongside souvenirs from your trips. Custom framers can create a shadowbox-style frame to display your items alongside images from your favorite destinations. Alternatively, you could display a vintage photograph side by side with a photograph you’ve taken of the same location. 

A small framed paper print of a vintage color photograph of Navy Planes sitting on a ledge

Tips for Hanging Framed Prints

When hanging your framed prints there are a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind to make sure your prints are displayed as perfectly as possible. 

Hang Frames at Eye Level

In most cases, you should hang your artwork at eye level for the most visually pleasing display. This ensures that no one is straining to look up at the art, or having to look down. The generally accepted height for eye level is 60”, meaning that the center of your frame should be 60” from the floor. 

Of course, sometimes you will want to deviate from this method. One example is when hanging prints or artwork above a couch. Depending on the height of the couch, hanging at eye level may have the art sitting too close to the top of the couch. In this case, go ahead and shift the frame up to give more breathing room between the couch and the frame. 

Use Appropriate Hanging Hardware

A framed print of a vintage image of Ella Fitzgerald hanging on a slatted wall next to shelves

To avoid having anything fall off of the wall and cause damage to both the wall and the frame, make sure you use the appropriate hanging hardware! It’s important to make sure that the hardware you’re using is rated to handle the weight of what you are hanging. When in doubt, overestimate! There’s no downside to using hanging hardware that is rated to hold more weight than you need it to, this just provides extra insurance that your frame won’t fall. 

Another consideration is the type of hardware you need. Hanging directly in a stud, for example, will require different hardware when hanging from drywall. 

Avoid Displaying Prints in Direct Sunlight

If you want to keep your prints looking brand new for as long as possible, make sure to display them in places in your home or office that don’t receive direct sunlight. Sunlight is the number one cause of premature fading and discoloration of prints. Framing with UV protective glass will help mitigate this, but ideally, the prints would still be displayed out of the reach of the sun’s rays.

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