frame spacers and buckling paper

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Postby nutter97 on Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:09 pm

i've been framing my own stuff for a while now, about 10 frame jobs total under my belt.

I've notice some paper buckling, I did my research on why the paper is buckling so I understand why it's doing it.

Question #1- a quick search and you'll find that frame spacers solve this issue.... so should you use frame spacers on every frame job? I see a lot of 'floating' talk when discussion frame spacers.

Question #2- If you use these spacers to separate the glass from the matting/art/backing, won't you see them tucked in back there?

Question #3- Are spacers the only remedy for the 'paper buckling' issue?
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Postby JBFrame on Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:22 pm

nutter97 wrote:i've been framing my own stuff for a while now, about 10 frame jobs total under my belt.

I've notice some paper buckling, I did my research on why the paper is buckling so I understand why it's doing it.

Question #1- a quick search and you'll find that frame spacers solve this issue.... so should you use frame spacers on every frame job? I see a lot of 'floating' talk when discussion frame spacers.

Question #2- If you use these spacers to separate the glass from the matting/art/backing, won't you see them tucked in back there?

Question #3- Are spacers the only remedy for the 'paper buckling' issue?


#1. There are several causes for buckling art. The most common problem is that you did not give enough space on the sides, top, & bottom for expansion and contraction. No matter what geographic location you are in in the country you will have some expansion and contraction of the artwork with heat & cold, dry and humid. Give yourself at least 1/16" on all sides of the art and you may take care of part of the problem. The second most common problem is that you have the art place inside the frame and have the backing pressed so tightly against the art that, again, there is no room for expansion and contractions.

#2. Frame spacers will NOT solve the problem and in fact may add to the problem if not properly installed. Again, the art can't be forced tightly against the spacer, sides of the frame and the backing cannot be to tight or you there will be no room for expansion and contraction. After the backing is installed the frame package should be able to shift in all directions easily, at least 1/16" to be assured the art is not to tightly fitted inside the frame. No you will not see the spacers unless you install them to far forward or you get to the side of the fame and look in. You are suppose to face the art to view it.

#3. It all depends upon what you are doing wrong, but no, spacers are not the remedy for paper buckling. The only remedies is to have the art perfectly flat when installing and installing the art with plenty of space for expansion and contraction. Spacers are only to keep the glass off of the art and in some cases we use spacers for ascetics - never put your glass directly against the art. You my get by for a while and not have a problem but get your first really humid day or quick change in temperature you may get moisture inside the art package. If that were to happen and you have the glass (Direct Contact Overly - DOC) laying directly on top the art you will more than likely have a piece of art that is stuck to the glass or stained from water marks caused by humidity build up. If you want to do a DOC use framing acrylic, it is less resistant to humidity build up inside the frame package.

Oh by the way, it is just about impossible to fix the waves left in the art when it has buckled. A paper conservator can do it for a pretty penny but otherwise you are pretty much out of luck. The longer it is buckled the harder it will be to straighten.

Hope this helps
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Postby nutter97 on Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:18 am

JBFrame wrote:
nutter97 wrote:i've been framing my own stuff for a while now, about 10 frame jobs total under my belt.

I've notice some paper buckling, I did my research on why the paper is buckling so I understand why it's doing it.

Question #1- a quick search and you'll find that frame spacers solve this issue.... so should you use frame spacers on every frame job? I see a lot of 'floating' talk when discussion frame spacers.

Question #2- If you use these spacers to separate the glass from the matting/art/backing, won't you see them tucked in back there?

Question #3- Are spacers the only remedy for the 'paper buckling' issue?


#1. There are several causes for buckling art. The most common problem is that you did not give enough space on the sides, top, & bottom for expansion and contraction. No matter what geographic location you are in in the country you will have some expansion and contraction of the artwork with heat & cold, dry and humid. Give yourself at least 1/16" on all sides of the art and you may take care of part of the problem. The second most common problem is that you have the art place inside the frame and have the backing pressed so tightly against the art that, again, there is no room for expansion and contractions.

#2. Frame spacers will NOT solve the problem and in fact may add to the problem if not properly installed. Again, the art can't be forced tightly against the spacer, sides of the frame and the backing cannot be to tight or you there will be no room for expansion and contraction. After the backing is installed the frame package should be able to shift in all directions easily, at least 1/16" to be assured the art is not to tightly fitted inside the frame. No you will not see the spacers unless you install them to far forward or you get to the side of the fame and look in. You are suppose to face the art to view it.

#3. It all depends upon what you are doing wrong, but no, spacers are not the remedy for paper buckling. The only remedies is to have the art perfectly flat when installing and installing the art with plenty of space for expansion and contraction. Spacers are only to keep the glass off of the art and in some cases we use spacers for ascetics - never put your glass directly against the art. You my get by for a while and not have a problem but get your first really humid day or quick change in temperature you may get moisture inside the art package. If that were to happen and you have the glass (Direct Contact Overly - DOC) laying directly on top the art you will more than likely have a piece of art that is stuck to the glass or stained from water marks caused by humidity build up. If you want to do a DOC use framing acrylic, it is less resistant to humidity build up inside the frame package.

Oh by the way, it is just about impossible to fix the waves left in the art when it has buckled. A paper conservator can do it for a pretty penny but otherwise you are pretty much out of luck. The longer it is buckled the harder it will be to straighten.

Hope this helps


everything you said made total sense and I know now that I'm probably packing everything into the frames too tight. i've noticed that it tends to happen more with my metal frames probably because i've been using the hell out of those spring clips. is there an alternative to spring clips in securing the backing in on metal frames??
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Postby JBFrame on Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:59 am

I'm not a big fan of metal frames but they do serve a purpose especially for people that do not have the equipment to work with wood frames. Those spring clips are there just to put pressure on the backing but since it isn't a full circumference pressure you will get buckling especially where the clips are positioned. I throw the spring clips away and just use foam core strips cut into 3/16" wide pieces and slid around the full circumference of the frame to keep total and equal pressure on the backing. If the foam core isn't enough I then cut strips of mat board to finishing filling in the gaps. A couple of little strips of double sided tape will keep the foam core & mat strips in place. In this way you will have a nice even pressure all the way around but make sure it isn't to tight.
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Postby nutter97 on Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:36 am

JBFrame wrote:I'm not a big fan of metal frames but they do serve a purpose especially for people that do not have the equipment to work with wood frames. Those spring clips are there just to put pressure on the backing but since it isn't a full circumference pressure you will get buckling especially where the clips are positioned. I throw the spring clips away and just use foam core strips cut into 3/16" wide pieces and slid around the full circumference of the frame to keep total and equal pressure on the backing. If the foam core isn't enough I then cut strips of mat board to finishing filling in the gaps. A couple of little strips of double sided tape will keep the foam core & mat strips in place. In this way you will have a nice even pressure all the way around but make sure it isn't to tight.


thanks for the info!
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Postby sendit2d on Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:42 am

JBFrame, Thanks for posting this information. Very helpful. I like your idea to do away with those spring clips.
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