Once you understand the basics of picture frame sizes, you will never have trouble finding the right frame size again.  Whether new to photography or just never understood picture frame sizes, this article will explain the basics of picture frame sizes and will help you select the perfect frame for your photo.

The Basics About Picture Frame Sizes

There are a variety of picture frame sizes, but they are typically categorized into standard and non-standard sizes.  Standard sized frames, like a 5×7 or an 8×10 picture frame, are the most common and are what you normally see hanging on the wall or resting on a table top. The term “standard frame size” refers to the regular sizes that are available with most printed photos.

Normally, when you buy a picture frame, the size refers to the size of the picture opening not the exterior dimensions of the frame. In the U.S., picture frame sizes are always measured in inches.In other parts of the world they are measured in centimeters.

Standard picture frame sizes are measured by width and height.  If your photo measures 8(width)x 10(height), you need an 8×10 picture frame.If you have a photo that is a 7 inches wide by 5 inches high, you’ll need a 7×5 picture frame. Keep in mind that 7×5 frames can only be used horizontally, while a 5×7 frame can be used horizontally or vertically. The same holds true for 6×4 frames and 10×8 frames compared to 4×6 and 8×10 frames. It will be helpful to remember that 6×4, 7×5 and 10×8 frames can only be used horizontally, while 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10 picture frames can generally go either horizontal or vertical.

When selecting the right picture frame, there are two things you should consider: the photo size your picture frame holds and how the picture frame can be displayed.

1) Knowing the Actual Photo Size Your Picture Frame Holds

It is important to emphasize that the picture frame size is not the overall exterior dimension of the frame but instead the actual photo size that the frame will hold. This is an important distinction and is often a cause of confusion. To quickly determine if your frame will hold your photo, you can measure the inner area of the frame where the picture is held. However this will always give you a smaller measurement than the actual size of the photo that will fit. That’s because every frame has an interior edge (or lip) that holds the glass and can vary in size. So, if you want a more accurate measurement to know the exact photo size your frame will hold, you’ll have to remove the frame backing to correctly measure it.

If you want to measure a frame correctly, you have to open it up by removing the frame back.On the inside of the frame there is a ledge that holds the picture and glass. All you’ll need to do is measure either 1) the area where the glass is held inside of the frame or 2) measure the actual dimensions of the entire piece of glass. By measuring either of these, this will tell you the exact size of the photo that will fit in your frame.

2) How Your Frame Can Be Displayed
One of the most important things in selecting a frame is to know whether the frame can be displayed vertically, horizontally or in both directions.  Always check this because there are some picture frame sizes that are only designed to be displayed in one direction.Most unique shaped frames, like heart shaped picture frames, can only be displayed one way.  An easy way to check is to look at the mounting hardware on the back of the frame to see how the frame can be displayed.

Picture Frame Sizes

Below is a list of the most common picture frame sizes.  These are for frames that hold a single picture:

2 1/2 x 3 1/2 – wallet size
3 ½ x 5
4×6
4×10 and 4×12 – panoramic picture frames
6×4
5×5
5×7
7×5
6×8
8×8, 10×10 and 12×12 – scrapbook frames
8×10
10×8
8 ½ x 11
11×14
16×20
20×24

If you are looking for a frame that will hold multiple pictures, there are double picture frames, triple picture frames and collage picture frames in a variety of sizes. All of these frame are available in standard frame sizes and come in a wide variety of styles, colors and finishes.

Picture frames are available in non-standard sizes but there just will be a much smaller selection and will likely be harder to find exactly what you want.  If you’re looking for a specific size, you can always ask a frame retailer for additional assistance or you can look to have a custom frame made.  If you’re trying to find a less expensive frame for a non-standard size and don’t want a custom made frame, you can always use a picture frame mat to hold your photo in a standard frame size.

Now that you have a better understanding of picture frame sizes, you will hopefully save time, energy and money when picking out your perfect picture frame.

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