As obvious as it sounds framing is an ideal way to display your collection. A well chosen frame will enhance the look of any poster, and will provide extra protection from enviromental effects and accidental damage.

Whilst a casual collector may wish to go out and buy a ready made frame, this should really be avoided unless you either attach little value to the poster or don't wish to have it framed for very long. The best option instead is to find a local professional framer. This doesn't have to be an expensive practice, but they will be able to give you a range of framing options, from short term display to long term preservation. However it should be said that a few places now sell ready made conservation frames designed specifically for movie posters (usually UK Quads or One-sheets). Although I haven't tried these, they could be a good solution for somebody on a tighter budget, or for somebody who would like to be able to change the poster in the frame often.

Wild Bunch - UK Quad - framed
Wild Bunch - all framed up!

As a rough guide, professional framing (here in the UK) will cost you from 70-150 for a 1-sheet or a UK Quad depending on what materials you use. It could be less, and potentially a lot more if you go for the very best!. This may sound expensive, but when it comes to protecting and making a poster look good, then it's worth every penny.

The components of a high quality poster frame that you need to consider are:

How much to spend?

A good starting point when getting a poster framed is to decide how much you want to spend on framing your poster. Points to consider here are:

For a fairly cheap poster that you just want to display, but have no concern about long term preservation, then pretty much any frame will do. Your only concern will be picking out a frame to match the poster! As the value goes up you'll need to start thinking about conservation mount board and backing materials. With a little extra money UV-protection glass becomes an option, which is important to prevent future decay and fading of your poster. As the protection requirements increase then most of the money will go into Museum quality conservation glass or plexi-glass. Around 80 should get you a framed 1-sheet with conservation mount board and standard glass. 100 upwards should buy you UV-glass, or standard plexi-glass. For the highest quality conservation glass or plexi-glass you would be looking at upwards of 250. This really is high-end for a 1-sheet, and you shouldn't have to pay any more than 150 for high quality medium to long term (10-20 years) protection.

Framing to sell?

As a side-note, if you only plan to keep the poster for the short term, and then sell it on, I would advise against framing unless you really want to display it. The reason for this is that if you're buying a framed poster, firstly you have the problem of shipping it, which can be costly not to mention risky! Secondly it is very hard to judge the condition of a framed poster (or the quality of the frame), hence few buyers will want to take the risk. As funny as it sounds, spending 150 on framing a 300 poster doesn't mean you'll be able to sell it on for 450. You should frame a poster for your own display purposes, so forget about making money!

The Frame

Starting off with the frame itself, I can't really advise on choosing the right frame to suit your poster. Your framer will probably have a selection of corner samples which you can offer up to the poster (along with some mount board) to give you an idea of how it might look. The only thing I'll say here is that it's very easy to go for something obvious and inoffensive like a plain black frame with a white mount board. It's worth trying a few other options as a good frame will make a poster, where as an average frame will tend to have the opposite effect. It's always worth spending a bit of time trying out a few options, and a second opinion is always useful. If the framer is any good, then they'll be able to make a few suggestions themselves.

Time Machine - US Insert
A simple frame was chosen here so as not to distract the eye from the somewhat colourful main image

Glass or Plexi-glass?

The glass that covers your poster is usually the most expensive part of getting a poster framed. Hence cheap glass will save you a lot of money, but the best quality conservation will cost you a lot of money. As I've already mentioned, unless you're framing an effectively disposable item, it's always worth spending the extra on getting UV protection. Ultra-violet rays not only fade your poster, but also act to accelerate decay mechanisms in the paper. And once a poster is faded, there is no restoration that can restore it to its former glory!

Once you've paid for UV protection, then any extra you'll spend will give you improved light transmission and reduced light reflection. The highest quality museum glass will be almost invisible to the naked eye, but it could easily end up costing more than the poster itself!

So now onto the main question - Glass or Plexi-glass? Whilst many movie poster buffs would argue that plexi-glass is the only way to go I would say that there are good reasons to go for either. So below i've tried to summarise the main pros and cons of each material:


Pros Cons
  • More commonly available in a variety of formats, from plain glass to museum quality conservation glass
  • UV protection for not much money
  • Can break or shatter if dropped or while in transit
  • Quite heavy for larger posters
Plexi-glass / Acrylic

Pros Cons
  • Weighs less than glass so ideal for framing a larger poster
  • Shatter resistant so offers superior protection against damage in transit or at home
  • UV protection plexi-glass much more expensive than equivalent protection glass
  • Can be difficult to source high quality materials

A lot of people will say that plexi-glass is the only option for framing posters, and that glass should be avoided at all costs. I think this is definatley an over-simplistic view. While plexi-glass has the significant advantage of being shatter resistant, in order to get the same preservation properties as similar specification glass you will have to spend a lot more. In my opinion as long as the frame is well made, and as long as it is securely attached to the wall where you wish to display it, then there shouldn't be any risk of damage to the poster.

Framing posters that are larger than the standard US 1-sheet or UK Quad becomes very difficult unless you use plexi-glass, and UV protection might have to be sacrificed in order to keep the cost of framing down. In that situation then you have to think even more carefully about where your poster will be situated. But as a general rule I would say that whether it is glass or plexi-glass, spend the most that you can on getting the best material that you can afford, as it will keep your collection safe for many years to come.

To give you an idea of cost, a major framing supplier in the UK quoted me 15 for a 1-sheet sized sheet of UV conservation glass. The equivalent UV plexi-glass from the same manufacturer was 300!. This sounds rediculous but it's true. It really is THAT expensive for high quality UV acrylic. I'm still contacting other distributers in the UK and abroad, but all have confirmed that UV plexi-glass is extremely expensive. If you have any information on any suppliers of "cheap" UV plexi-glass (or acrylic, whatever you call it!) in the UK or elsewhere then pleaseemail me!

Posters I can't afford