One thing I know is this. If I buy an unframed painting, the likelihood that it will shortly hang on the well is much less than if I buy one that 's already framed. I think this is true for most people.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Framing oil and acrylic paintings is straightforward if you have the right tools and a ready-made frame. There are many quality picture frames available online, and they are very affordable. And, you can have the frames cut to whatever size you need, even when buying online.
I've bought frames online from Frame Destination, Florida Frames, and Graphik Dimensions. Franken Frames has also been recommended to me. Alternatively, you can do pretty well at your local framers by simply having them make a frame for you, and doing the framing yourself. Oil and acrylic paintings don't require glass or mats, and a piece of paper across the back is not necessary. With the right tools you can frame a painting in half an hour.
Picture frames and sample moldings
Below are the hardware and tools that I like to use and where to get them. Framing4Yourself is great resource, both for the hardware and for instructions.
The first task is to secure the painting in the frame. And I’m talking here about a wooden frame and a painting on a panel or canvas. A point driver is used to drive little metal darts called points into the frame, and those hold the painting securely in the rabbet of the frame (the part in the back that’s recessed). When you order a frame, order one with the dimensions of the outside of the painting. You’ll find that there will be a bit of wiggle room for the painting in the frame, you don't have to add that in when you order. Note also that the rabbet will have to be deeper than the thickness of the painting in order to use the point driver method described here.
I generally check the frame to see which side will look best as the top, dust the frame off, and lay it face down on a towel or something non-abrasive before dropping in and securing the painting. For 8"x10" paintings or smaller, I use one point per side, for larger paintings, I use two per side. An old palette knife is useful for positioning the painting in the frame while it's lying on your workbench.
point driver positioned to drive the point into the frame
The next task is to attach a wire for hanging, for which I use little gadgets called strap hangers. Always double check to make sure you know which is the top of the painting before making any holes in the back (I’ve messed that up a few times!). I make the holes for the strap hangers about 1/3 of the way down the back of the frame from the top edge. And I use an awl to start the hole for the screws that hold on the strap hangers. This is less work than drilling the holes, and I rarely find a frame that’s too hard for this approach. If you want, you can make a couple of hits with a nail set into the hole made by the awl to get a deeper hole.
strap hangers and screws, where to order
awl, where to order
nail set and hammer, available at your local hardware store
Picture hanging wire is readily available at your hardware store, and Framing4Yourself has a great selection. Choose wire that’s rated for more than the weight of the painting plus frame. I find the non-coated wire to be easiest, but that’s a personal decision. Needle nose pliers and wire cutters are also useful.
picture hanging wire
needle nose pliers and wire cutters, available at your local hardware store
strap hanger screwed to back of frame
wire tied on to strap hanger
an extra knot before wrapping the wire (I do this for larger paintings)
excess wire wrapped around the hanging wire (be sure to neatly cut off the end)
And finally, bumpers go on the bottom corners of the painting to keep it from banging into the wall.
To finish off the framing, be sure to include information about the painting on the back, e.g. title, painter, location, etc. You can photocopy this information from your receipt if it is not already on the back of the painting.
Bottom left corner of the back of a framed painting showing the wire attached with a strap hanger, the points, and the bumper
If you've bought one of my paintings, have a frame that fits, and are local, I will be happy to frame the painting for you. Please contact me.