Practical Guide to Picture Glass

No, I’m sorry I’m not putting on a cape, whilst chanting “I say you buy one, you get one free” that’s window glass, it’s different.  But just as you get different types of window glass, (e.g. toughened, self-clean etc.) so too is there different types of picture glass.

Not the most fascinating subject but really good to know what you are possibly getting charged for.  Picture glass comes in different thicknesses.  If you have a large picture or a very long thin picture to frame, you will need to have thicker glass than normal.  This will minimise the risk of the glass cracking.  You can also buy picture glass which has been toughened or laminated for safety.

I’m going to break it down into the following:

Standard Picture Glass

Sometimes known as plain glass, this is the lowest grade of glass offered and is perfectly fine for a lot of framing work.  Please see the blog where I previously detailed the differences between standard and non-reflective glass.

Non-Reflective Picture Glass

This is a diffused glass and it can get me a bit hot under the collar when customers come in with the misinformation that all pictures must be done in this.  It certainly shouldn’t!

You can read the case for when it should be used, in my previous blog (as mentioned above).  If you can’t be bothered, I can give you two nuggets of information to bear in mind, don’t use it on raised or 3D framing and don’t make the mistake of thinking that it has anything to do with conservation!

 Mirror Glass

This comes in different forms.  The flat/plain mirror glass is available in differing thickness and is usually slivered or antique silvered.  It’s usually the cheapest option because most picture framers can cut it to size just like normal glass.  Bevelled mirror glass usually comes in set sizes but special sizes can be cut.  This would normally be done at the framing suppliers so would make it a bit more expensive.

Toughened and Laminated Picture Glass

Toughened glass is quite straight forward and I don’t think it needs much explanation.  What you might not know though is that when it’s broken it disintegrates into small granular particles.

Laminated glass is the same strength as plain glass but has a plastic interlayer.  It can come with UV protection.  You often see this type of glass used on table tops or shop counter tops for example.

Plastic Glass

Usually seen on Clip Frames you can order what is termed as “plastic glass” from a Framer.  The lowest quality is Styrene, but it might not be as cheap as you think.  Not all Framers have the ability to cut it on-site.  This means that they may have to order it in cut to size, which pushes up the price.

If you are going to have plastic for safety reasons or because you want to make a large picture more lightweight, I would recommend you go for the best quality you can afford.  You can order Acrylic that is scratch resistant, reduced static and comes with UV protection, so acts more like glass.

Conservation Glass

I’m applying the term conservation glass to anything that is top grade.  There are many different types and manufacturers.  If I had my way, everything would have this glass!  Once you see the difference up against other glass, there is no contest.

Museum quality glass gives you a “true view” of your picture.  Sometimes, it’s almost like there is no glass on the picture at all.  You can get different levels of UV protection up to 99%.  The clarity of your image is superb.  It also usually applies a high level of reflection control so as not to spoil your viewing of a picture.  You’ll find this grade of glass in Museums and top Galleries.

There’s a lot of techy talk you can delve into about this type of glass if you’ve got an hour to spare!

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