How To Make a Cheap Picture Frame Last

We've reviewed Kmart frames in the past, offering our feedback that while we loved the look (and price) of them, the larger sizes lacked the quality and tend to warp really quickly. 

Today, we're going to explain why that's the case - and how to 'hack' those cheap frames so they can do the job (for longer) by changing the hanging hardware.

First up, just to be clear,  the issue of cheap frames warping is far from exclusive to Kmart frames. And it's not even exclusive to cheap frames. Even solid timber and hardwood frames will warp pretty quickly if they're not hung correctly. 

The problem isn't so much the frame itself, but simple engineering. Off-the-shelf frames usually come with hangers that look something like one of the below, which are attached the back or top of an MDF board:

Cheap Picture Frame

Cheap Picture Frame

Bigger frames will have bigger hangers but the problem is the same - the entire weight of the frame end up hanging off this point, which then pushes the MDF board upwards into the top of the frame. 

When you're talking about a smaller size frame, this isn't as much of a problem. 

When you're talking about an A1 frame, it's a bigger issue. If your frame has a real glass front, you're in bigger strife.

That's a whole lot of weight to be pushing into the top of your frame -particularly if that frame is made from MDF, not solid timber.

Professionally-framed pictures solve this problem by using a wire hanger, usually hung a third of a way down the back of the frame, which carries the weight of the picture. 

This is the back of one of our prints as an example:

Professionally framed print

When the picture rests on a hook on the wall, the weight of the frame pulls the sides of the frame in and up, ensuring the frame can hold its shape. 

If you want to use an off-the-shelf picture frame in a large size, the best thing to do is to buy a picture hanging kit to go with it. You can pick these up in any hardware store, or we sell them here. 

All you need are two 'D-Rings' and hanging wire, as pictured below. 

 Picture Hanging Kit

Using a screwdriver or drill, attach the D-rings about a third of the way down your frame on either side. They should rest with the 'D' just inside the frame (there's an image of one of ours further down this page which may help).

Affix the hanging wire using a framing knot:

How To Tie a Picture Framing Knot



My knot is a bit messy, so here's one our framing team did instead:

Professional Framed Picture


You want to leave the wire loose enough so there's a bit of 'give', but not too loose. If you're hanging multiple pictures, make sure there's the same amount of give in each or they're going to hang unevenly. 

Using this trick above will help your frames stay in-tact by ensuring the weight of the frame rests on the sides, rather than the top of the frame. 

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