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Glass and transparent materials

Reflections from glass can detract from a framed photograph, especially if there are several lights or windows behind the viewer.
Reflections from glass can detract from a framed photograph, especially if there are several lights or windows behind the viewer.

Never place a picture in direct contact with glass. The image may transfer from the paper to the glass and condensation that occurs will have nowhere to go but onto the surface of the photo. The best way to separate the photo from the glass is to use a mat. However, if you aren’t using a mat, attach thin strips of black-core mat board to the glass around its perimeter to elevate the photo and keep it from contact with the glass.


Regular glass is the least expensive option. It allows your photo to be viewed with the least distortion and maximum sharpness. Clear glass, though, is highly reflective, which can easily distract the viewer, especially if the framed image is placed in a bright setting or one with a number of lights or bright objects in front of it.


Best used in a bright room, but about twice the cost of regular glass, non-glare glass greatly reduces the chance of reflections, thanks to an acid-etching technique used on the surface. However, it does allow distortion, can cause image-softening, and can even give your photo a grainy appearance.


These include such products as plexiglass and clear acrylic that are very light and flexible, lending themselves to large photo frames to keep the weight down. Handle them carefully, though, because plastic and acrylic surfaces are soft and easily scratched. They also attract dust and may resist lying absolutely flat.

You can purchase non-glare plexiglass, and a new scratch-resistant plexiglass has been developed. Prices for clear and non-glare plexiglass are about five times more than clear glass, while the non-scratch versions are double that again.


This material - which is rendered invisible when placed over your photo - is leading-edge technology. There are no reflections and the photo isn’t distorted. Its drawbacks are its limited UV protection and its cost – about 12 times more than clear glass. Invisible glass is usually only available at high-end framing shops and select framing supply centers.