What kind of Paint do you Use on Picture Frames?

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Picture frames are the personality of any house. You can know a homeowner’s sense of style from the picture frames they have. Since it is an essential part of home décor, what kind of paint do you use on picture frames?

The kinds of paint used on picture frames are chalk, latex, acrylic, and oil-based paints. The type of paint you use depends on your picture frame’s material.

As you will note, these kinds of paint have drastic differences in terms of surface appearance, adhesion, and aesthetics.

Understanding these differences will guide you in choosing the best type of paint to use on your picture frame.

What is the best paint to use on picture frames?


To understand the best paint to use on your window frames, you need to know their features, including pros and cons.

Chalk paint

Chalk paint is a decorative paint and a good choice for picture frames. As the name implies, it gives a chalky appearance to the picture frame.

This type of paint appeals to rustic-style décor.

The pros of chalk paint are that it is fast-drying and blends with ease once applied on the surface. Cleaning up chalk paint once spilled is easy. Chalk paint also requires no preparation because it reasonably adheres once painted on the surface.

The cons of chalk are that it is costly and is not readily available to customers.

Latex paint

Latex paint is water-based and comes in a variety of colors and finishes. The finishes have different effects on the picture frame once they dry.

The finishes range from no luster, low luster, slight luster, subtle shine, and high shine. Latex paint works on any surface; however, it will still require proper preparation for a perfect finish.

The pros of latex paint include its fast-drying quality and its wide range of finishes and colors.  Latex is affordable and easy to clean.

The cons of latex are that it chips easily and requires multiple coats during application. Latex also needs a primer before application.

Acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is water-based. It is a versatile paint that has a vast color selection. It is best for wooden picture frames because it does not need surface preparation.

Acrylic paint works well on metal and plastic frames, but you must prepare the surface before application because otherwise, it will not adhere to the surface.

Some of the pros of acrylic paint are that it is durable, inexpensive, and quick-dry. Its color variety makes it a choice paint for homeowners.

The cons of acrylic paint are that it is difficult to remove once dry, and it adopts a darker color appearance on the surface.

Oil-based paint

Oil-based paint is probably the most versatile paint to use on picture frames. They stick to any surface without the need for preparation.

Its ability to stick to metal and plastic gives it an edge over other paints that do not have this quality.

Oil-based paint has an expansion and contraction quality that works well with wooden frames during temperature changes in your home.

The pros of oil-based paint include good coverage and durability. Its range requires no more than one coat during application.

The cons of oil-based paint are that it is slow-drying, and it needs special brushes during application. Oil-based paints are also more expensive than acrylic and latex paints.

How do you paint picture frames?

Painting pictures is relatively easy, and you can do it without assistance at home. Different surfaces use different methods of application.

Remember to remove the glass and back cover of the frame before painting.

Wooden picture frames

Painting wooden picture frames require sandpaper for smoothing the surface, tack cloth for cleaning, an oil-based primer (optional depending on your choice of paint), a paintbrush, and the kind of paint of choice.

You will need to sand the surface to smooth out rough edges. You will then wipe the frame with the tack cloth to remove any residue. Apply primer depending on the paint you are using.

Primer also brightens the color appearance of paint on wooden surfaces. You can now paint your frame and let it dry.

Metal picture frames

Metal is a complex surface to paint because it is non-porous, unlike its wooden counterpart. This quality makes the paint less adhesive to the surface.

You will need a detergent to wash off grease and dirt from your frame. Then, you will sand the surface to smoothen it, clean it again with detergent, and air-dry it.

You will then use a self-etching primer to score the frame’s surface for better paint adhesion.  Once primed, you can paint your frame and let it dry.

Plastic picture frames

Plastic is also a non-porous surface, so the paint does not adhere well to it. Just like metal frames, you will need to clean and sand the edges to prepare the surface.

You will also use a self-etching primer that will score the surface for paint adhesion. Paint your frame and wait for it to dry.

Can you spray paint picture frames?

Spray painting is a faster and less troublesome way of painting your picture frame. Spray painting is ideal for metal and plastic frames because of improved adhesion.

Most spray paints also have primer included in the ingredients, and they are oil-based as well.

The preparation for spray painting picture frames is the same as in regular paint. You will need to clean the surface for metal and plastic frames to remove grease/oil and dirt. You will also sand the surface to smoothen and make it even.

Ensure you keep your work area clean by laying a newspaper or cloth under the frame. Spray the paint all over the frame to your liking and leave it to dry. You can add additional coats as desired.

How do you choose paint colors for picture frames?

There is no formula when it comes to choosing paint colors for your picture frames. There are ideas you can have in mind while making that decision.

Matching the picture within the frame

Matching the picture colors with your frame is a good and easy way to decide your color choices. The idea behind this is to match your frame with the dominant color in the picture to give it a unified look.

You can also match the paint with the color that stands out to accentuate both the picture and the frame.

Contrasting the picture within the frame

The contrast will create a dramatic effect with the entire picture attracting attention to it. The idea behind this is to choose a paint color that is drastically different from the central color theme within the picture, for example, black against white or sky blue against sunflower yellow.

Matching existing frame colors

If you have existing picture frames, you can match the frame colors with your painted frame for a unified look. You can choose the same shade, a shade lighter or a shade darker.

Either way, the synonymity of the colors will create a matching effect in all the frames.

Mismatching existing frame colors

For those who are more daring with their home décor, you can choose to mismatch frame colors with existing frames. The contrast will create an artistic effect.

It will also make the picture and picture frame stand out on their own other than being a unified unit.

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