What to Look for When Thrifting Frames | Whitney Beth Photography
I love a good thrifting day as much as the next person, but there are a few things you need to look for if you’re wanting to thrift frames. I went live a week or two ago while at the DI and showed you what I do when searching. It went so well that I figured it needed a permanent place on my blog.
1. Go often – This is a blanket statement for all kinds of thrifting. They put out new stuff daily, and the only way to find what you’re looking for is to go a lot.
(I like to look at the big frames first and work my way down to the smaller sizes – unless I have a specific size in mind)
2. Check for real glass vs plexiglass. Plexiglass is super prone to chips and scratches and doesn’t travel well – especially if it’s made it’s way to a thrift store shelf. When you find a frame with glass, make sure you check it over to make sure that it doesn’t have any chips or scratches in it as well.
3. Look at the back – you’ll want to check out how the picture is secured to the frame. There are lots of different ways frames are put together, but the two most common are hinge, swing tabs, or bendy tabs. If you plan on switching out your pictures often, stay away from bendy tabs. They will eventually break off after being opened and closed too many times. Check the swinging tabs too, to make sure they aren’t super loose.
4. Mat vs no mat. Matted pictures are classic and timeless, when done right. Stay away from colorful mats and instead look for white. Matting your image elevates the photo and makes it more of an art statement. If you can’t find a mat, it’s not the end of the world, they are very inexpensive at craft stores. Another hack you can do is to flip your mat around – most of the time it is white on the backside.
5. Look for new, in packaging frames. Nothing like scoring a brand new frame for a thrift store price!
6. Watch out for painted DIY frames. I have nothing against painting frames – I do it myself all the time, but be wary of buying someone else’s DIY. You don’t know what steps they took to prep and if/when the paint will chip off.
7. If you find a frame with a cardboard insert, it’s perfect for mounted prints. When my clients buy a print 8×10 or larger from me, it comes mounted. It helps with longevity. This does mean that you have to be aware of what kind of frame you’re going to get. It needs to have enough space for the print to fit. If you find a frame with cardboard inside, snag it, remove the cardboard, and your print will fit perfectly!
And there you have it! My checklist I run through when choosing frames from thrift stores. Let me know if you’d like to see more tips like this!