Hot Tip: Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

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Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

Getting a piece of art custom framed can cost a bunch of cash-ola, which is why I usually do it myself using store bought frames. Recently my mom handed down three gorgeous vintage railroad puzzles from my grandmother, and I knew I wanted them framed for my son’s room– but could not spend a fortune. Or even a semi-fortune. Or… anything, really. I didn’t want to spend much of anything, because we’d probably only have them framed for a few years so they didn’t fade or get damaged.*

* to be clear, I DO know that if you spend more money you can get archival quality mats, frames, and glass too. But talk about cash-ola… that truly is a fortune. At some point I’ll have these preserved, but until then, read on for my temporary “we-need-to-put-our-kids-through-college-instead-of-paying-for-archival-glass” solution.

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

Side note: as someone who is longing to move to North Carolina, the name of this train is pretty ironic…

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

I headed over to Michaels to get a frame that would fit the outside proportions of what I wanted, knowing I’d need to get a custom mat cut to fit. I found a ready-made black frame on sale for 50% off, plus used a 15% extra off frames coupon, so it came to $8 for the frame. So far, so good.

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

While I was waiting for at the framing desk, the woman next to me was getting a poster framed and the grand total came to $294! Totally worth it if you’re going to have something for awhile, but I certainly couldn’t spend that on something for my son’s room, the way that bugger likes to ‘rearrange’ things. I picked out an ivory mat, and the total for THAT was only $17. More good news.

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

But here’s the best news: our Michaels store will put together the frames you buy from their store– even the ready made ones. They add backing paper, hanging wire, wall protectors, and even a fancy sticker on the back… FOR FREE.

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

The grand total for framing this piece was only $25. That is an absolute steal for ‘custom’ framing! Or as I call it, semi-custom framing. I can guarantee if I got it actually custom framed the cost would have been well upwards of $100. But WOOT– I got the frame I wanted, in the mat of my choice, all blinged out and put together by someone other than me. That’s pretty custom, right? And I saved like a gazillion dollars doing it that way!

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

I’ve been tweaking Bee’s room to better reflect his love of trains, and I can’t wait to showcase these beautiful custom framed (wink) art pieces soon. Just wait until you see how I’m revamping his walls… it’s totally ‘on track’ with his train passion. Har, har.

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

Am I the only one who didn’t know Michaels put together frames purchased at their stores? Be sure to ask at your particular location, but ours offered at no charge!

{don’t forget, you can pin ideas by hovering over the image and clicking on the ‘Pin It’ button!}

Hot Tip: How to Save a Bundle on Custom Framing

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  1. I had no idea that Michael’s would do that for free! I agree with you that I can’t spend a fortune getting things framed. Thanks for the great idea!!!

    1. Most times they lump ut into the mat charge. So getting them to cut a custom mat, they discount that mat and put in an “assembly charge” that almost completely balances out. So paperwork says you paid for it, but really it’s free, or close to it.
      They call it Frame Express.

  2. Great tip! If you ever do go archival or need a weird size frame & need a good price I like American Frame.

  3. Sorry to rain on your parade a bit, but the backing and hanging hardware isn’t actually free. It is included in the cost of the mat you had cut. If you look at your paperwork, it will say either “basic fit” or “preservation fit”. From your pictures, your particular order would say basic fit because they used the brown paper. (Preservation uses blue paper.) The fit fee is required by the corporation for all orders and the cost varies depending on the size of the project. It covers the cost of the backing materials and some of the labor.
    If your framer didn’t charge you a fit fee it is your lucky day, but don’t expect to see that same framer for long. Not charging a fit fee is considered an unauthorized discount and grounds for firing according to company policy. This is something they are currently cracking down on.
    I’m not saying this to discourage anyone. I’m glad you had a great experience with Michael’s framing! I just wanted to clarify the fit fee issue.
    I am a Bronze Certified Framing Expert at Michael’s.

    1. Hi Missy, I was under the impression they put together frames for free as long as they were purchased in store?

      1. Unfortunately, that was a previous deal. Michael’s no longer does and framing work for free. A basic fit is what you have. They will still put the frame and cut a mat within 48 hours for you, no problem. It is company policy that all work must be charged for. Frame Express orders are wonderful for people that need something fast quick and cheap. Your puzzle looks fantastic and who ever helped you did a fantastic job! And like Missy said, the company is cracking down on unauthorized discounts or giving anything away for “free”. I’m a Custom Framing Department Manager at a Michael’s, and your advice is great. Just keep in mind that if you don’t see the same person at the framing counter, the “free” charge is why. Please continue to visit them and see what they can do to help you further! 🙂

      2. We will help you put it in if it’s just a drop in, so opening it up, maybe taping it in place, and putting the original backing back on it. Unfortunately the professional fit you got is not on the free list. Frame Express. 🙂 almost free in your cast. The discount + fit charge probably balanced out.

    2. Michael’s doesn’t anymore but Hobby Lobby still does. Any frame purchased at any Hobby Lobby gets free assembly. The hanging wire/paper backing are $1.50. I am a certified framer at Hobby Lobby.

  4. That’s amazing! I had no idea Michael’s did this! I like to print out printables from the web to gift as gifts, and this is a great way to make it look very professional!

    One question: did you have the mat custom cut? (I’m going to assume so, but was just curious.)

    1. Yes, it was only $17 though. Thought that was a pretty great price just $25 when you add in the frame!

      1. Thank you! Yes, I agree, it’s a great price when you paid next to nothing for the frame! (I’ll have to see if my Michaels does this! ^_^)

  5. I’m curious what a frame with the mat already in it would have cost? I wouldn’t think anymore than $25. The only real difference is the brown paper and wire hanger, both which are easy to do.

    1. The frame actually did already have a mat inside, but it didn’t fit the inside dimensions of the piece I needed framed– does that make sense? So the frame WITH a non-custom mat would actually have only cost $8 because I got it on sale and with a coupon. But it didn’t fit the puzzle I needed framed, so the additional $17 for the mat added on was a steal compared to getting a custom frame and mat.

  6. I am curious as to who “certifies” the framers as hobby lobby and michaels? My understanding it is a store created certification and not the same as being a CPF under the Professional Picture Framers Association. I’m not saying their framers don’t know what they are doing by any means as I personally know some folks who work there and do a great job but there is still A LOT they do not know that they would if they were nationally certified by a third party organization. I own an independent frame shop and I only call my framers certified if it’s by the PPFA.

    1. I’m a certified framer at A.C. Moore. Yes, it is a company training program to get certified, but it is all the same info used by PPFA. They adhere to all the same standards and use all the same knowledge, techniques, and design that the industry adheres to. We receive Picture Frame Magazine every month and I read it to keep up with any current info or advice. The company also does participate in industry events like west coast art and frame expo and many other things to make sure that consistently have the most up-to-date product and knowledge.

  7. Wow! This is an amazing trick Carrie! 🙂

    I just realized how much we can save by custom cutting a mat board, instead of doing the entire custom framing.

    Thank you so much for sharing a tip that can potentially save hundreds across the board! )

  8. This is pretty smart idea! I guess we can also get regular picture frames from Amazon or IKEA and get a custom cut mat board to fit my artwork perfectly.

    Thanks for sharing a great post! 🙂

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