Design & Craftsmanship
Your Total Satisfaction Guarantee.


FASTFRAME provides a lifetime guarantee on Craftsmanship and a 30-day guarantee on Design using materials of equal cost.


840 W. Route 22

Lake Zurich, IL 60047

ph: 847 540.9600

fax: 847 540.9079




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Frequently Asked Questions


What makes FASTFRAME different?

In a phrase, our exclusive
Design & Craftsmanship” Guarantee.
This is our industry-leading 30-day guarantee on design and lifetime guarantee on craftsmanship. If you are not completely satisfied with the design of your finished framed artwork, we will re-craft or redesign your piece in the same price range, within 30 days of the sale – for FREE!  We couldn’t offer such an extraordinary guarantee if we weren’t absolutely sure we could meet or beat your expectations.
FASTFRAME stores are individually owned and operated. Each of our dedicated owners are thoroughly trained in the latest custom picture framing technology to give you the look and style you want to display in your home or office.  Because we carry so many materials in our stores, our response time is unbeatable – often you can get your piece framed the same day.
That’s the FASTFRAME difference: Owners dedicated to quality, craftsmanship, fast turnaround and our Design & Craftsmanship Guarantee.


Can you help me design my piece?

Our owners are thoroughly trained in the latest custom framing technology including all the essential techniques of color and design.  With thousands of choices in frames, mats and glazing, our design consultants will make sure your frame design is perfect for your art and the decor in your home or office.  Every framing decision begins with your personal tastes, your style, your likes and dislikes and of course, where the piece is going to hang.  Only after our design consultants know what your requirements are, will they show you the selection of mats and frames that best enhance your art and your decor to provide an irresistible focal point in your room.  Depending on the piece, they might suggest using a number of mats to enhance the artwork for a more dramatic look.  Even the choice of frame, from ornate classic and traditional looks to sleek and simple modern styles will be tailored to fit your art, your taste and your room. Finally they will help you choose the perfect glass or acrylic glazing to protect and display your piece.  We use only the highest quality glazing products available.  With our exclusive training and techniques, the frame you select will be one you’ll love – Guaranteed.  If you get your piece home and are not thrilled with the design, return it within 30 days, and we will replace it using equal quality materials, for FREE.


Our store received a national award in 2007 for framing design.

That’s Charlie on the front of our home page receiving the award!


What can I frame?

We pride ourselves on our ability to frame practically anything.  From prints and limited editions to original works of art and even 3-D objects of all kinds, our dedicated owners have seen it all.  They have framed plasma screens, musical instruments, sports equipment, artifacts, memorabilia, mementoes, prizes, awards, ribbons, prints, certificates, mirrors and more.  Virtually anything you want to preserve or display, can be framed. Our design consultants take the utmost in care when framing your treasures.  You can trust us with your most fragile family photos or even a favorite piece of your child’s precious art.
Our stores have all the right materials, techniques, training and know how to properly frame all of your certificates, memorabilia, historical documents, artifacts and awards.  We also specialize in framing 3-D objects of all kinds from sports memorabilia, your spoon collection, antique plate or grandpa’s war medals.  Whatever you need framed, bring it to us and we will frame them in a shadow box that you will be proud to display in your home. 

What is Preservation Framing?

Preservation framing (or conservation framing) is the method where we envelope your artwork in a completely acid free environment.  We use the highest quality mats, mounting boards and framing techniques to shield your valuable and sentimental artwork from the effects of acid degradation and harmful UV light.  Our preservation framing allows you to remove the artwork from the frame at a later date, unharmed and unaltered.  This will preserve the value of your artwork for years to come.  In addition to preservation framing, we offer museum framing, which is the highest form of protective framing available.  Your FASTFRAME design consultant will help you decide which method is right for your artwork.  Our preservation and museum standards are very high and have been independently scrutinized by industry expects for content, use of materials and framing techniques.  With our preservation and museum framing we also offer free inspections every three years.  With your valuable and sentimental artwork, you can be sure it will be properly framed at FASTFRAME.    

What is mounting?

Mounting is the method used to hold your piece of art in place within the frame.  In general there are three categories of mounting.  The first method is permanent mounting.  This method is not reversible and should be used only on artwork of little value such as open edition prints and posters.   It should be noted that permanently mounting a piece of art will jeopardize the value of the artwork, either current or future.  The second method is semi-permanent.  In this method, the artwork can be removed at a later date through the use of heat.  While it is not a recommended method of mounting expensive artwork, it can be used on moderately priced open, original and limited edition prints.  The primary purpose of permanent and semi-permanent mounting in is to flatten the artwork, removing small wrinkles and creases.  The final type of mounting is hinging.  In this method, the artwork is attached to either a backing board or mat using small pieces of tape or other hinging material.  The hinges should be made from either an acid-free self adhesive, water-activated tape or Japanese paper using wheat or rice starch adhesive.  By using a hinging method, the artwork will be less likely to “cockle,” or ripple, with changes in the humidity.

What is dry mounting?

Dry mounting, through the use of a vacuum or mechanical heat press, attaches and flattens artwork onto a backing board.  The process is primarily aesthetic, removing small wrinkles and creases as well as reducing the continual effects of “cockling.”    The process can be either permanent or semi permanent.  There are several methods and products that may be used for dry mounting.  Your FASTFRAME design consultant will select and explain the method best suited for your artwork.  In any case, there are no “wet” materials, such as glue, used in the process.   At FASTFRAME, we use a vacuum press method.  The artwork with backing board and adhesive material is placed into the press.  The heat of the press melts the adhesive while the vacuum removes the residual air, creating a bond between the art and the backing board. 

What should not be dry mounted?

Any artwork of value, either monetary or sentimental, should not be permanently dry mounted.  This would include original, limited editions or collectable art.  In some cases, this type of art may be semi-permanently mounted using a product such as Artcare Restore®. Also any artwork that is susceptible to melting should never be dry mounted.  This would include wax or pastel-based art, color copies or signed posters and prints.  There are alternative, permanent mounting products that may be used in these cases.  


What is wet mounting?

Wet mounting is a permanent mounting process that uses liquid glue as the adhesive.   The glue is applied to a backing board; then the artwork is placed on top of the glue surface.  The piece is placed into a vacuum press, with the heat turned off, to completely flatten the art.  Since liquid glues are water based, there is a chance of the backing board warping as the piece dries.  To counteract this effect, a second piece of kraft paper is mounted onto the back of the board.  Since the process is permanent, you should not mount any original, limited edition or collectable art that you would ever need to remove. 

Do you build my frames, or must I do it?

At FASTFRAME, our professional design consultants do all of the frame construction for you.  In most cases, all of the component parts are created on site, in our production facility.  From the cutting and joining of the frame, cutting of mats and glazing materials, mounting of the artwork and fitting the artwork in to the frame, our design consultants insure that your job is done right.  Each production facility contains all of the state of the art machinery required to properly frame your artwork.  While the majority of the work we do is framing entire projects, we are happy to supply you with component parts only, such as mats or a piece of glass.  We can also create and fit component parts into your existing frame.  Whatever your framing needs, we can accommodate you at FASTFRAME.


Why do I need a frame?

A frame is an essential way to display your artwork.  It provides protection for your artwork, keeping it safe from the environment, insects and other physical damage.  It also creates a focal point in your room, focusing attention on the artwork.  Frames may be selected to formalize a setting or to create a mood or theme.  Whenever you have a piece of artwork or memorabilia that you want to display with pride, have it professionally framed, and you will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.

What is a standard size frame?

Common, massed produced frames come in a variety of standard sizes.  Generally, such sizes below 11 x 14 are called photo frames.  Above that size, we call them ready-made frames.  These frames are created to allow the purchaser the ability to frame standard sized art with relative ease.  There are downsides to using a ready made frame.  First, artwork comes in a variety of non-standard sizes and will not always precisely fit into the frame. Second, ready-made frames make it difficult to customize a design for the artwork using mats and other embellishments.  Also, many inexpensive ready-made frames are created using substandard moulding and are imported.  At FASTFRAME, since we manufacture your frame, we have the ability to customize it to suit your design needs and the size of the art. 

Should I get a wood or metal frame?

The type of artwork to be framed, the room where it will hang and your own personal preferences will determine the answer to this question.  There are, though, some basic differences between wood and metal frames.  Within the framing industry, wood is the preferred frame material.  There is a much wider selection of colors and styles from which to choose.  Wood frames also afford more protection for your artwork.  Their sturdy construction and the ability of the framer to properly close the back of the frame prevent environmental and insect damage from occurring.  Metal frames have a modern, sleek type of styling.  Available in many colors and styles, they, for the most part, afford a minimalist type of framing.  New trends in metal mouldings, such as the Nielsen Elements® line, blend modern technology with a design flair not seen in metal mouldings for many years.  Whether you choose wood or metal, what is ultimately important is that the frame meets your design requirements. 

What is a mat?

A mat is a border, usually made from mat board, placed around the artwork.  The purpose of the mat is, first, to provide a spacer or separation between the artwork and the frame or glass.  If the glass comes into contact with the art, there could be a risk of damage to the artwork.  This damage may come in the form of mold, or the artwork adhering to the under side of the glass.  Second, the mat, particularly the color of the mat, draws the eye into the picture.  By altering the colors in the mats, we can make the colors in the art stand out.  And third, the mat hides the mechanics of the framed piece.  For instance, the mat will cover the mounting method used such as a hinge or dry mount.   The standard size of mats is 32 x 40, but some colors will come in an oversized 40 x 60.  The standard thickness of a mat is 4 ply, which is about 2 mm.  Mats are also made in a limited color range of six, eight and twelve ply thicknesses.  These thicker mats create a dramatic presentation, drawing the eye directly to the art.  Mats come in a variety of colors and textures which will allow your FASTFRAME design consultant to select the mats that just right for your picture.

What kind of mats should I use?

For the highest protection for your artwork, you should only use mats that are preservation or museum grade.  There are three basic types of mats used in picture framing.  The first is a regular or paper mat.  These mats, while being cost effective, contain a product called lignin.  Over time lignin breaks down creating an acidic gas that can leave a burn mark on your artwork.  The color will also fade over time, and the cream colored bevel will begin to darken.  Some paper mats have a bleached white core, but the overall degradation of the mat will be the same.  The second type of mat is an alpha cellulose mat.  Cellulose is the chief material in all plant life.  Alpha cellulose is the purest form of this material.  These mats are buffered to maintain a neutral pH.  They are considered to be preservation quality.  They will not harm the artwork, nor will they fade over time.  This type of mat is the primary, in-stock mat at FASTFRAME.  The third type of mat is a rag mat.  Made from cotton linters, rag mats are naturally lignin free.  They are made with a colored surface paper, which are preservation grade, or can be 100% rag mat, which is museum grade. 

What about fabric mats?

The use of fabric mats can really add a distinct elegance to your framed art.  Whether it is suede, linen, silk or various other fabrics, the colors and textures of fabric take your framing design to a new level.  There is a wide range of fabric types and colors that come precovered onto alpha cellulose and rag mats.  The majority of these mats, though, are not preservation grade.  This is because the fabric does not meet standards for bleed resistance.  Some fabric mats, like Bainbridge’s Alpha Linens®, are preservation quality and can be used on higher forms of artwork.  If you cannot find a precovered fabric mat to suit your needs, we can hand wrap any fabric over an existing mat.  You may also bring in your own custom fabric for us to wrap. 

What are basic mat dimensions?

While there are no set outside dimensions for custom mats, there are guidelines we can follow to determine the width or reveal of your mats.  There are two basic approaches to creating mat widths.  One is to make the mat equal on all four sides.  This method brings balance and symmetry to the design.  The second is to weight the bottom of the mat, making it larger than the top and sides.  This method was used during Victorian times when pictures were hung very high on the wall and at a slight downward angle to the floor.  By weighting the bottom, it gave the appearance that the mats were equal on all sides.  Psychologically, the weighted bottom affords the viewer a sense of stability, insuring them that the piece is not likely to tip over.  Both methods are acceptable and the preference is yours.  There are some basic rules that can be used in deciding the width of mats.  First, there should be no repetition of size.  The reveals of the inner mats should be slightly different.  This allows the viewer to see the entire inner mat colors, not just the more dominant color.  Also, the top mat should be at least 3/4” to 1” wider than the visible width of the frame.  This will set the frame apart from the rest of the piece and prevent it from encroaching on the artwork.  

How many mats should I use?

Most artwork is a collection of many colors, and we use the colors in your art as a guide.  We may begin by showing you a selection of three mats; a top mat and two inner mats.  The colors of the inner mats are generally taken from the third or fourth most predominant colors within the art.  This allows these background colors to show through and not become overwhelmed by the more predominant colors in the piece.  By selecting mat colors in this fashion, we can allow the viewer to see the full scope of the artwork.  The top mat is generally a color that harmonizes with the entire piece.  It is preferred to have top mats that are lighter tones rather than darker ones.  Lighter tones will tend to “open up” the piece while darker tones will tend to constrict the piece making it appear smaller.  There are times when the use of three mats is not warranted. Some examples of this would be black and white photography and prints, and sepia tone and monotone artwork.  In these cases, there are limited color choices for the inner mats and we would generally show you a top mat and single inner mat.  In the end, the choice of the number of mats is yours to make.

What is artwork glazing?

Glazing is the clear covering that protects the artwork from the environment.  Generally, glass and acrylic are the accepted forms of glazing.  Glass is a super cooled liquid made from a mixture of sand and an alkaline salt.  Since it is liquid, it is permeable, allowing the transfer of water vapor.  Acrylic, or Plexiglas® as you may know it, is a synthetic resin made from acrylic acid derivatives.  It differs from glass in a number of ways.  It is lighter, nearly half the weight of glass.  It is optically clear, allowing greater transmission of light.  It is also shatter resistant.  On the downside, it can scratch very easily and you must use special products to clean the surface.  Unfortunately it has a static electricity problem and cannot be used on artwork comprised of loose media such as charcoal or pastels.  We can also use a laminating film as a protective covering for inexpensive poster art.  The laminating film is a vinyl film that is “melted” over the top of the artwork.  This film does provide some protection from the environment, but will leave the artwork susceptible to other types of damage.  Lamination may not be used in conjunction with mats. 

What types of glazing are available?

The FASTFRAME preferred supplier for glazing products is Tru Vue®.  They are the industry leader when it comes to quality and technical advancements.  They provide us with three basic types of glass and acrylic.  The glass selections include Premium Clear®, which is a regular, clear glass; Reflection Control®, which is single side etched nonglare glass; and AR Reflection Free®, which is a new technology that virtually eliminates glare.  Acrylic is available from Tru Vue® under the trade name Acrylite®.  It comes in Premium Clear®, Reflection Control® and the new Optimum Acrylic®, which has antireflection technology.  Our stores display framed art using these various types of glazings.  We also have samples which we can use to show you how the various types of glazing will work with your art. 

Why protect artwork from ultraviolet light?

Ultraviolet light is one of the greatest sources of damage to artwork.  The natural ultraviolet protection afforded by regular glass types, can only shield your artwork from some of the damaging effects of ultraviolet.  Unfortunately, the upper end of the ultraviolet spectrum of light is the most hazardous to your art.  To aid in the protection of your art, Tru Vue® has created a full line of UV reflective glazings.  A thin film is placed over the surface of the glazing affording you up to 97% protection from harmful UV rays.  The new conservation series of glass products include Conservation Clear®, Conservation Reflection Control® and Museum Glass®, the highest quality glass available.  From the Acrylite® acrylic line, your conservation series includes Conservation Clear®, Conservation Reflection Control®, Conservation Clear Scratch Resistance® and Optimum Museum®.  Select a conservation series glazing for your art and avoid hanging it in direct sunlight or under any other ultraviolet source, and you can be sure that your framed piece will last for years to come.

Why is the back of the frame sealed?

Sealing the back of the frame serves two functions.  First, it provides an aesthetically pleasing appearance, concealing the attachment of the artwork into the frame.  Second, it provides protection from insects and dust.  Insects lay their eggs inside of frames, because the cellulose from the paper products provides a food source for their young.  There are two acceptable methods of sealing the back of the frame.  The most common method is using kraft paper.  Available in both brown and black, this is a heavier weight paper that can withstand many years of use.  It is attached to the frame using a double sided tape.  Acid free materials are used in preservation and museum framing.  The second method is taping, which is predominately used in Europe.  This method uses a two inch wide tape to cover over the attachments, usually staples or framer’s points.  While this method works well, it allows the viewer to see the backing board and can release after time.  Metal frames, because of their channel construction, are not backed. 

What are the differences between printed art forms?

There are many ways in which an image can be placed onto paper.  The most common types are:

Poster – An inexpensive printed reproduction of a piece of artwork, generally containing some form of promotion in the margins (artist’s name, gallery or museum name, some type of event). 
Print – A generic term used to describe an impression made on paper from a variety of sources such as a block, plate or film negative.  It generally contains no promotional information.
Lithograph – A generic term used to designate a print made from a planographic process.  This would include an original lithograph done on a stone or a commercial print made by a photo mechanical process.
Serigraph – A method of printing using a prepared stencil attached to silk or polyester fabric through which color (ink) is forced.  
Etching – A printing process where an image is scratched into a plate through an acid resistant ground.  The plate is dipped into acid, causing the scratched areas to be eaten away.  The plate is then inked and pressed into the paper to transfer the image.
Engraving – A printing process where lines are cut into a plate using a tool.  No acid is used in this process.  The plate is then inked and pressed into the paper to transfer the image.
Collagraph – A work of art produced by the inking of any combination, or collage of materials.  This forms a plate for printing.
Intaglio – A process which includes all-metal plate engraving and etching processes in which the printed areas are recessed.  It would include etchings, engravings and mezzotints to name a few.
Monoprint – A one-of-a-kind print made by painting on a sheet or slab and transferring the wet painting to a sheet of paper.  The process can be done by hand or by machine.
With the exception of posters and monoprints, any of the above forms of printing may be open editions, where there are an unlimited number of prints, or a limited edition, where the prints are limited to a certain quantity.

Does FASTFRAME sell artwork?

Most FASTFRAME stores carry an assortment of posters and prints, and in some cases limited editions and originals.  FASTFRAME stores are individually owned and operated, and each has its own preference in the types of art sold. We also have a large selection of catalogs from art publishers, which you are welcome to browse.  We would be happy to order any print you might like. 
We now have a website from which you can browse over 160,000 prints and posters. That site is . Any artwork you choose can be delivered directly to your home or directly to our store. If you decide to frame it at our store we will even pay for the shipping!

How are your frames priced?

We use a computerized, point-of-sale system to price our framing jobs.  This allows us to give you an exact price that covers all of the components you have selected.  By using a computer system, we can focus our efforts on the design of the piece rather than the intricacies of manual pricing.  We can also make changes to a design with the computer recalculating the price rather than having to start the process all over again.  When we give you a price, it includes all the materials and labor required to complete the job. 

How do your prices compare?

Periodic market analysis shows that our prices are competitive; virtually the same or less than other professional frame shops offering equivalent products and services.  At times, other frame shops may quote a job at a significantly lower price.  We find that when this occurs, the frame shop is generally using inferior quality products.  This would include paper mats, cardboard backing, plastic frames or “cheap” overseas knockoffs.  At times, these shops are shipping your artwork to offsite production warehouses where the quality and experience of their staff are questionable.  You must also ask yourself if this framer will be around should you encounter problems in the future.  At Fastframe, all work is done on the premises by trained staff.  And we back up our quality with our Design and Craftsmanship Guarantee.