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  • Writer's pictureCarli Christina

Up-Cycle a Basic Frame with Spray Paint

Hi everyone welcome to another tutorial!

In this tutorial I will be discussing how I up-cycle frames to fit the vibe of my artwork better.

This is a video for people who don’t have the option of going to a frame shop to get something custom framed for their work. Of course, make sure ahead of time what size your artwork is if you are getting a frame after for your painting is done. Sticking to standard frame sizes (like 5x7, 11x14 or 16x20 for example) will ensure that you find a frame that will work.

This process does not include the getting a mat for your painting. This tutorial goes over how I paint and create a beautiful finish on my frames and how I frame my work without using a mat.

If you'd like to see the video tutorial, click on the image:


Select a frame that’s on sale. Don’t worry about the color. Choose something that has a shape you like.

A lot of frames you may get on sale at craft stores have pins on the side that allow you to change the image whenever you want. Because of this, they need to be thick and durable. Folding them up with your fingers in order to take the back out will hurt, so I am using a spoon to gently lift up the pins. Make sure not the scrape the back.


Go into a well ventilated area for this step! Get either a giant sheet of plastic, cardboard, paper or whatever material to lay down on the ground. This will catch all of the overspray from spray painting your frame.

I’ve never had an issue with enamel spray paint coming off of any of my frames, however if you use an acrylic based paint you may need to finish with a top coat of clear sprayable varnish.

If your frame is metal, you may need to sand it down and use a spray paint primer first. This will ensure that the spray paint will bond with the material.

I’ve always used wooden frames and have never had to prime them for spray paint before. I have anyways had a good finish, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it if that’s what you are using.

For each layer, allow a 30 minute – 1 hour long dry time to make sure you don’t have multiple of wet paint layers going on! If that happens, you risk the possibility of having the paint drip and cause streaks.


I had leftover silver spray paint and did a light layer of it. I allowed that to dry, and then I did a light layer of black again over the top of that silver. This created a semi-metallic finish to the black paint.


Using 100 grit sandpaper, I gently distressed the frame along the edges to reveal some of that silver. Make sure you sand with the grain. If you go against it, it will look scratchy and unintentional.

Wipe off the excess particles with a towel. Take the frame inside, placed onto a clean towel, and use canned air (keyboard duster) to blow away any extra particles that were leftover from the sanding process.


If there’s any imperfections, lightly sand the area with a smooth sandpaper or with a clean nail buffer, dust it, apply another thin coating of paint on the sanded area and allow it to dry completely before going to the next step.


Because I’m not using a mat, I need another way to keep my art from touching the glass. If your art touches the glass, it may fuse with it when exposed to any humidity or heat and inevitably ruin the artwork.

To prevent this, use a spacer (long piece of plastic with a sticky side) or thick mounting tape (with only one sticky side exposed) along the inside edge of the frame. Make sure it’s no more than 1/8 of an inch, or else you may see it when looking at the framed piece on the side. This will discretely lift your artwork from the glass and prevent it from touching.


MAKE SURE YOUR ART IS 1/16 OF AN INCH SMALLER ON EACH SIDE THAN THE OPENING OF YOUR FRAME! If not, it will get stuck and will not fit inside the opening. It needs a small amount of room to make it easy to carefully drop into the frame.

Before placing the artwork inside the frame, clean the inside of the glass with a glass cleaner and a microfiber towel. Then, using the air duster again, blow away any dust or particles that may have found its way back onto the glass.

Drop the artwork into the frame and then the backing, then close the pins. You may need to use your sleeve, a towel or that handy spoon again to press the pins back down, because they can hurt! You want them completely flat to ensure that your art isn’t going anywhere.


Spray some glass cleaner onto a towel and wipe away any finger prints on the outside of the glass.

And you are DONE!

I hope this was helpful, if you have any questions let me know!

See you in the next tutorial!

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