Case Study: False economy or good value?

A customer came in with a readymade frame brought from a well known Scandinavian retailer in the UK.  She wanted to fit three photographs inside the frame.  The frame was around 26” x 10”.

It was a standard black frame with no mount and the glass had been frosted.  The frosted glass had been made to resemble a triple aperture mount (a mount with three hole openings), which was just what she wanted.

After getting it home, she couldn’t work out how to get the frame apart as it was fixed at the back and also realised that she wouldn’t be able to get it back together again.  It wasn’t clear how she could secure the photographs to display them without them falling forwards, towards the glass (she obviously didn’t want to stick them down as this would have damaged her photographs).

After fiddling around, she brought it in to us to take a look.  She wanted us to cut a new piece of glass and a mount which matched the exact dimensions of the frosted glass impression we were going to replace.

When she had brought the frame she had thought it would be perfect for her needs and at a great price too.  After discovering that she needed it customised to fit her needs, she was now against the clock as it was for a birthday present in a couple of days time.

We were, of course, able to help her out.

The idea was that it was re-glazed and a mount would be supplied.  This would be given back, for her to fit together.  This would make the job a bit cheaper for her as we would not have to charge for our time cleaning and finishing.

So far so good.  However, on closer inspection, we discovered that it was going to be impossible for her to secure the mount into the frame herself and she would also need to fire pins into the back to stop it from coming off (tape might not have held it for very long).

In the end, she decided to leave it with us to do the full cleaning and fitting.

I don’t know what the frame would have originally cost her but I would guess around £10-15 judging by what else is available in various high street shops.

Without including driving around trying to find a Picture Framer and countless phone calls.  The job we completed ended up costing a total of £25.00 (that’s fitted, glazed and ready to hang back on the wall).  Add that to the cost of the frame she had already brought and I make it a total of between £35.00 to £40.00.

So, is it more expensive to get it done by a professional picture framer, from scratch?  Well, yes of course, but how much more to get exactly what you want?

I estimate that to get a picture framer to do the full job (based on full fitting, ready to hang on the wall), it would have cost around £45.00 to £55.00 (dependent on what frame the customer would have chosen).  So based on the higher price, on average it would have been about £15.00 more to get it done like for like, in a better quality frame.  If you asked a picture framer to supply all the elements as a made to measure ready frame (for you to fit and clean etc.), then it would of course be cheaper.

Conclusion: From a picture framers point of view, of course, cheap readymade frames are not ideal and they would always prefer to have a piece in the shop to be done properly.  But it has to be said that this just isn’t an option for everyone and we understand that completely.

Readymade frames have their place and are excellent for tight budgets or non-valuable/throw away work.  As long as you get exactly what you want or you know that you have the skills and equipment you might need to customise it (or you are just not bothered of course!).  If you haven’t though, you could end up spending more in time and money.

My advice would be to leave as much time as possible.  Then get prices for all options before you go ahead and buy.  That way you can weigh up which option is best for you and your budget.


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