Tuesday, July 26, 2016

10 Steps to Float Your Artwork

As framing experts probably know, acrylic spacers are designed to be used in place of a mat board. A mat board is often used to separate the artwork from touching the acrylic, either for protection or for aesthetics. Sometimes, the traditional “glazing to mat board to artwork” stack doesn’t align with the desired look.

A great alternative to the traditional method can be created using acrylic spacers. The space provided — sans mat board — offers a minimalist look that highlights the artwork. Follow along to learn how to create this look using a metal frame and acrylic spacers!

Before we get started, make sure to pick out the spacers you want to incorporate into your frame. We offer three varieties of acrylic spacers: one-fourth-inch black, one-fourth-inch clear, and one-eighth-inch clear. We suggest using black spacers for dark or black frames.

  1. Make sure your artwork is secure by hinging or dry mounting it. You can take your artwork right to the edge of the frame or you can create borders by floating your artwork on a larger board. In either case, spacers alone are not able to hold your artwork securely for long.

  2. Begin assembling the metal frame by attaching three of the sides together. Put aside for now.

  3. Carefully cut lengths using scissors or a box cutter to prepare the spacers for use in a metal frame. You will need to cut fours spacers total: two for the length and two for the width. They should measure just under one-eighth of an inch of the acrylic glazing’s measurements.

  4. Place the spacers onto the glazing before you adhere them to make sure they fit.

    NOTE: For a metal frame, the spacers will need to rest just under one-sixteenth of an inch off the edge of the glazing, creating a small, even lip. Naturally, the glazing will be loose and move slightly inside the frame. To prevent the spacers from being seen, they have to be strategically placed to ensure they stay hidden behind the rabbet when the glazing inevitably shifts.

  5. Peel back the protective cover of the glazing for the art side once you are confident the spacers are correctly placed and measured.

    Peel back the sticker on the acrylic spacers to reveal the sticky side that will be placed onto the glazing.

  6. Carefully place the spacers down in a clockwise pattern. Remember to go over the edge of the glazing a bit. Do not press down on them too hard in case changes need to be made before the frame is put together.

  7. When all four spacers are placed, slide the glazing into the partially built frame to test the placement and make sure it fits.

  8. Take the glazing out and remove the other side of protective paper. Clean both sides of the glazing and place it with your artwork into the frame. The spacers should be on the inside and pressed against the artwork side of the mounting board.

  9. Slide the entire art stack into the partially built metal frame. Close the frame by adding the fourth side of metal and check it. Inspect for debris and make sure the spacers are not visible. When you’re satisfied, tighten up the screws, clean the glazing, add wall protectors, and add a wire or sawtooth hanger.

  10. Enjoy your beautiful artwork! Well done!

Have you used a metal frame and acrylic spacers to create a unique, floating art frame? Share it with us on social media, using #framinghappiness, and tag us in your photo! Love your art. Frame it right.

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.


  1. Very informative.

  2. I love the look of spacers!

  3. Hey Laura! Amazing ideas. Your post has covered almost all the aspect of custom picture framing. Thanks for sharing it. Looking forward to your next post.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Would I use the same technique with a wooden frame?

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