How to Decorate Picture Frames
If you have a great picture or art piece, you want it to have a frame that’s equally as perfect. While buying custom picture frames can be pricey, designing your own is often only a fraction of the cost. Whether you just want to paint your frame or you want to add creative accents, decorating your own picture frame is a fun craft project that anyone can do!
Painting the Frame
Tape off any areas you don't want to be painted.It’s easy to accidentally move your brush a little and get paint somewhere that you didn’t mean to, like on the glass inside the frame. To prevent this, pull off a piece of painter’s tape and stretch it to make it sticky, then carefully lay it over the line you want to create.
- It’s easiest to remove any glass or backing from the frame if possible, but if you can’t, painter’s tape should work.
- You can use strips of painter’s tape to create cool designs, like making V-shaped stripes if you want a chevron pattern. You can also lay the tape horizontally to make the sides a different color from the top and bottom.
Sand a smooth frame lightly with fine-grit sandpaper.Paint doesn’t easily stick to smooth, shiny surfaces. Lightly rubbing the frame with a piece of sandpaper should create enough grit for the base layer of paint to adhere to the surface.
- For this project, 180-220 grit sandpaper will work perfectly.
- Don't scratch the surface; just sand until you remove the shine.
- If your frame doesn’t have a shiny finish, you don’t necessarily have to sand it.
Choose the color paint you want to use on your frame.The color and finish of your paint are entirely up to you, and picking just the right color is part of the fun of a project like this! Use black for a modern-looking frame, pick a bright color if you want the frame to have a playful feel, or choose a color from the picture you’re framing to emphasize a detail you like.
- Most paints will work for this project, so if you already have something on hand, give it a try. If you’re buying paint, opt for acrylic paint, a plant-oil-based paint, or spray paint.
- You can create different effects based on the paint you use. For instance, painting an object with chalk or milk paint will create a distressed effect, or you could use metallic paint to give the frame a shiny finish.
- You can also create a distressed look by using a darker color as your base coat and a lighter color for the subsequent coats.
Use a large artist paintbrush for most frames.Ideally, the width of your brush should be less than that of your frame. This will give you more control over your brush, allowing you to get a more even finish on each coat.
- You may need a smaller paintbrush for smaller or more detailed frames.
- Spray paint will work on frames that don't have much detail.
Dust the frame or wipe it down with a damp cloth after you sand it.Sanding will leave a light coat of debris on the frame, which will prevent the paint from sticking. If there’s just a little dust, you can wipe the frame down with a dry microfiber cloth. However, if the frame seems really dirty, wet the cloth slightly and run the damp cloth over the surface.
- If you use a damp cloth, let the frame dry for 5-10 minutes or until it is no longer damp.
Paint on an even layer for your first coat.Whether you’re using a brush or spray paint, it’s important that your paint layers are spread evenly. Don’t worry about covering everything, since it will usually take more than one coat of paint to get the color you want.
- If you’re trying to paint a dark picture frame a lighter color, you may want to use a primer for your first coat.
- If you’re using spray paint, make sure you work in a ventilated area or outdoors.
Let the frame dry completely between coats.Some frames might only need 1 coat of paint, while others might need 3. It depends on the effect you're going for and the type of paint you choose. Let the paint dry completely before you add another coat; otherwise, the paint could smudge or it might not dry properly.
- Some paints, like certain metallics, will dry more quickly than others.
- If you’re not sure if the paint is dry, touch it with your fingertip in an inconspicuous spot. If it feels tacky, wait another 5-10 minutes.
Choose a design that goes with your photo to create a fun memory.Depending on what the picture shows, think of a way to decorate the frame that will remind you of what's going on in the picture. Choose a bright floral theme for a photo
- If the picture is of you and some friends at the beach, you could use sand, shells, plastic seahorses, or anything else that makes you think of the sea!
- You might choose leaves, twigs, and pressed flowers if your picture shows you on a camping trip or a hike.
- You could also match the frame to your household design style rather than to the picture inside, like adding buttons that match the throw pillows on your couch, gluing on sequins that are the same color as your curtains, or using burlap for a frame to go in your farmhouse kitchen.
Use craft glue for anything light like sand or glitter.Lightweight objects don’t need heavy-duty glue to stay in place. Use your fingers or a craft stick to spread a layer of glue across the frame, then place your items into the glue. Don’t disturb the piece while the glue is still drying, though, or your items might fall off.
- Let the glue dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Other lightweight objects might include tissue paper flowers or very small beads or sequins.
Attach heavier objects, like buttons or ribbon, with hot glue or superglue.Anything with a little substance to it will need sturdier glue. Read the instructions on the glue carefully, since the directions and drying times will vary by the manufacturer.
- Other objects you might glue could include beads, twigs, flowers, small toys, or any other small decorations you find.
- Be careful not to burn yourself if you’re using a hot glue gun. If you’re a kid, ask your parents for help.
- You should also use caution when using superglue. It can be dangerous and even toxic if you get it onto your skin.
Decoupage your frame to dress it up with pieces of paper.Choose a paper design you like and cut it to fit the frame you're decorating. Lay the paper in place, then paint or spray a layer of clear-coat to adhere it to the frame. When the clear-coat dries, you'll be left with an overlaid frame that's one-of-a-kind.
- Whether you’re covering a frame with scraps of vintage wallpaper or you want to make a collage of magazine cut-outs, you can use paper to help you create an original frame you’ll love.
- You could use internet printouts, pictures from comic books, scraps of wrapping paper, pages from old books, or anything else you can think of!
- Using regular glue can make the paper wrinkle, or cause the ink to become faded or discolored.
Wrap washi tape around the frame to get color if you don't want to paint.Washi tape is decorative tape that is often used in craft projects. Wrap strips of colorful tape around the frame, laying them right next to each other so the frame doesn't show between the pieces of tape. Stick the ends to the back of the frame. You can use the same tape design all the way around the frame, or you can mix and match colors and patterns for a fun new look.
- You can find washi tape at most craft stores. It comes in nearly any color and design you can imagine, so find one that suits your photo or the décor in your home.
Write with a paint marker if you want to add words.Sometimes the best way to customize your frame is to add a word or phrase to sum up the picture. Practice your letters on some scrap paper before you write on your frame to make sure you get them perfect. Once you feel confident, use a paint marker to write out the letters. For the cleanest look, make sure your letters are the same height and width, and space them out evenly.
- “Family,” “Friends Forever!” and “Love” are all popular phrases for decorating a picture frame.
- If you have a steady hand, you can use a very small paintbrush instead of a paint marker.
- If you don’t have very good handwriting, you could print out what you want to write, then lay the paper on your frame and trace the letters with a ballpoint pen. Paint or write over the indentation.
Trying Advanced Techniques
Wrap the frame in colorful yarn or thread to create a unique texture.Wrap a long piece of yarn around one side of the frame, then glue the end of the yarn to the back of the frame to hold it in place. Continue wrapping the thread, placing each new loop as close to the previous one without overlapping. When you switch to a new piece of yarn, either knot it to the old one or glue each end into place. Either way, make sure the knots and glue are on the back so they don't show.
- Try alternating colors to create a fun striped look!
- You may need to add a dot of glue under the yarn to help it hold its place when you're wrapping the corners. Let the glue dry before you move to the next loop.
Overlay the frame with contact paper to create a clean look.Contact paper is frequently used to line cabinets or shelves, and it comes in a number of different styles. Clean the frame, then carefully wrap a strip of contact paper around each side. Fold or cut the contact paper at the corners so it lays flat.
- Contact paper comes in styles ranging from convincing-looking marble to fun patterns like polka-dots or stripes. You can find it where home improvement supplies are sold.
- You may also be able to find special overlays for picture frames at craft stores.
Glue on gold leaf for a glamorous update to a wooden picture frame.Clean the picture frame thoroughly and let it dry, then brush adhesive onto the frame. Let it dry until it's tacky to the touch, then gently lay the gold leaf onto the frame and smooth it down with your fingers. Carefully brush clear sealer over the frame and let it dry.
- Depending on the look you're going for, you could attach the gold leaf to raw, stained, or painted wood. Gold leaf might not adhere to a plastic frame.
- Gold leaf is thin and tears very easily. Wearing soft cotton gloves might help prevent the sheets from tearing when you handle them.
Burn a design into a flat, untreated wooden frame for a rustic look.Wood-burning pens are used to burn out a pattern in wood, leaving a dark imprint that almost looks as if it were carved into the wood. Draw or trace your design onto the frame, and let the pen heat up on its stand for about 5 minutes before you use it. Once it's ready, slowly and carefully run the tip of the wood-burning pen where you want to leave marks. Do not touch the tip of the pen, as it will severely burn you.
- This is a great option for shots of your family out in nature, or frames that will be hung alongside other shabby-chic décor.
- The price of these wood-burning pens varies depending on the features you want, but you can find decent start kits at a craft store or supercenter for about -30 USD.
- The tip of this pen will reach several hundred degrees Fahrenheit, so use extreme caution once it's plugged in. Never touch the tip with any part of your skin, and always rest the pen on its metal stand. Make sure the tip of the pen is never resting near or against anything flammable, and don't leave the tip pressed against one spot on your wooden frame for too long.
- Do not use this tool on plastic frames, or wooden frames that have been shellacked or painted, as this will produce dangerous fumes and could be a fire hazard.
- Try decorating several picture frames in a similar style, then hang them near each other to create a gallery wall. Paint each frame the same color for a uniform look, or make each one different
- Use caution when working with a wood-burning tool or a hot glue gun so you don't burn yourself.
Video: 16 EASY DECOR IDEAS WITH PICTURE FRAMES
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