So, you have artwork, or a diploma, a photo, or a document that you want to frame and protect from airborne pollutants. The type of “glazing” you choose for your picture frame glass will depend on your budget, the items you are framing, and where you are hanging your pieces. Do you want a glossy shine so that something in the art stands out? Or, maybe you’ll choose one that doesn’t easily reflect light for a more muted look.
There are a number of options. The most common glazing is regular picture glass, but there are also non-glare glass, conservation glazing, museum glass, and acrylic glazing.
“Glazing” refers to the coating on picture frame glass or acrylic (Plexiglas) used in framing and the protection they provide to the contents.
You should keep in mind the location of the frame relative to any natural or strong light sources or windows when determining which type of glass to use. If you want to keep the color of your art from fading, U.V. glass is essential.
Regular Picture Glass is strong, not easily scratched, and the most popular and inexpensive option. It protects the art fairly well and has some UV protection. Regular glass is also easy to clean.
However, regular glass remains somewhat brittle and is heavy.
For artwork hanging in front of a window, you may want non-glare, matte-finish glass which diffuses reflected light.
A disadvantage to non-glare glass is that it distorts the artwork when viewed from any angle, especially because of reflected light.
Conservation glazing filters out and pollutants. It is expensive, but it reduces possible damage to your artwork.
The best glass available which you would use for pieces of the highest value is museum glass. With its U.V. protection and its clearness, museum glass is the ultimate choice.
Another popular type of “glass” is acrylic glazing, commonly called “Plexiglas”. Acrylic glazing is much lighter than glass, it’s very difficult to break, it blocks 99% of the damaging UV, and it’s available in regular and non-glare forms.
Disadvantages of acrylic glazing are that it scratches easily, and it is expensive. Also, because it is made of plastic, regular glass cleaners will make the surface foggy, and even a paper towel will scratch this surface. A soft cloth and a special cleaner are needed for acrylic glazing.
For “loose media” such as charcoal or pastel, Plexiglass may not be the best choice since it can build up a static charge which will attract the pigment particles off the paper.
Another important point about the glass used in picture framing is that it is necessary to create air space between the glazing and the art itself. This is the main reason for choosing a mat or spacer bars to separate the art from the glazing itself.
The products that are available help reduce the amount of fading, but no product will eliminate fading.