How do you know what size picture frame you need?
Thankfully, most standard picture frame sizes match the most common photo printing sizes.
However, to allow for different picture frame styles and mat sizes, there’s still a wide variety of options available.
For photographers, the most common photo printing sizes are 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″ and 8″ x 10″.
Depending on whether or not you want a mat border around the photo and the actual mat width, you need to choose a bigger frame for your photo.
Then there are custom frames for non-standard frame sizes, such as for square pictures or panoramas.
(And don’t forget, of course, the option of digital picture frames for the ultimate convenience!)
Let’s take a look at the most common picture frame sizes in 2021.
Standard Picture Frame Sizes
Frame Size (inch)
- 4″ x 6″
- 5″ x 7″
- 8″ x 10″
- 8.5″ x 11″
- 11″ x 17″
- 13″ x 19″
- 16″ x 20″
- 18″ x 24″
- 20″ x 24″
- 20″ x 30″
- 24″ x 36″
Frame Size (cm)
- 10.16 x 15.24 cm
- 12.7 x 17.78 cm
- 20.32 x 25.4 cm
- 21.59 x 27.94 cm
- 27.94 x 43.18 cm
- 33.02 x 48.26 cm
- 40.64 x 50.8 cm
- 45.72 x 60.96 cm
- 50.8 x 60.96 cm
- 50.8 x 76.20 cm
- 60.96 x 91.44 cm
Standard Square Frame Sizes
Frame Size (inch)
- 5″ x 5″
- 6″ x 6″
- 8″ x 8″
- 10″ x 10″
- 12″ x 12″
- 14″ x 14″
- 16″ x 16″
- 18″ x 18″
- 20″ x 20″
- 24″ x 24″
- 28″ x 28″
- 30″ x 30″
Frame Size (cm)
- 12.7 x 12.7 cm
- 15.24 x 15.24 cm
- 20.32 x 20.32 cm
- 25.4 x 25.4 cm
- 30.48 x 30.48 cm
- 35.56 x 35.56 cm
- 40.64 x 40.64 cm
- 45.72 x 45.72 cm
- 50.8 x 50.8 cm
- 60.96 x 60.96 cm
- 71.12 x 71.12 cm
- 76.2 x 76.2 cm
Common Frame Sizes for Photos
1. Picture Frames for 4″ x 6″ Photos
The 4″x 6″ is one of the most common photograph sizes because it’s postcard size. It’s also the default size you used to print film photos at the one-hour labs that were so popular before the digital age!
That’s why 4″ x 6″ photos don’t need any conversion – they have the same aspect ratio as the paper and the frames. In this way, you can get a 4″ x 6″ picture frame size – this is one of the most popular frame sizes.
If you want a mat around the picture, the most common sizes are 6″ x 8″ or 8″ x 10″, depending on how wide you want the border to be.
2. Picture Frames for 5″ x 7″ Photos
Customers love the 5″ x 7″ because it’s still small enough to look good in small spaces, yet it still stands out. It’s normally used to frame portraits.
If you don’t want to add a mat, most frame styles are available in 5″ x 7″. However, if you want to use a 5″ x 7″ photo as home decor, it’s better to add a mat – in which case you can get an 8″ x 10″medium sized picture frame or even 11″ x 14″.
3. Picture Frames for 8″ x 10″ Photos
This photo size is almost A4 paper size, and it’s noticeably bigger than the previous standard frame sizes. At this size, you can print group portraits or any subject meant for home decor – such as landscapes or fine art photography. If you choose not to have a mat, you can buy an 8″ x 10″ frame.
When you do add a mat, you can choose any of the following sizes: 11″ x 14″, 12″ x 14″, 16″ x 16″, 16″ x 18″, or 16″ x 20″. There isn’t a right picture frame size – instead, this size gives you a lot of flexibility regarding the mat.
Since 8″ x 10″ doesn’t share an aspect ratio with the camera sensor, you need to crop the image if you want to fill the print. However, you can choose to print the entire image and cover the remaining borders with a custom mat.
This is a great size picture frame for display on your wall when you don’t want something too big.
4. Picture Frames for 16″ x 20″ Photos
Because of the bigger size, it’s rarely used as a tabletop frame but instead is usually hanged as wall art. It fits perfectly in small spaces or walls where you have other frames and shelves, creating a composition.
You can frame these pictures without a mat on a 16″ x 20″ frame or choose a bigger frame size to add a mat. Depending on how big you want it to be, you can either get a 20″ x 24′” frame or one that’s 24″ by 28″.
5. Picture Frames for 20″ x 30″ Photos
A 20″ x 30″ photo is sure to grab anyone’s attention – that’s why this size is used for fine art photography or wall art. Normally it’s hanged on its own to give the piece some breathing space and highlight it.
You can frame it without a mat or get a 24″ x 36″ frame if you want to have a mat. But, as it becomes the focal point of the room, make sure you choose the perfect frame – not just in size, also in style and color.
6. Picture Frames for 22″ x 32″ Photos
Normally, only posters and art prints are done at this size – therefore, these picture frames are meant to be the room’s focal point.
Since they are already quite big, these picture frames don’t need a mat. However, if you want to add ione, you’ll have to buy a 30″ x 40″ frame. This is the biggest standard picture frame size available – anything bigger and you’ll probably have to ask for custom framing.
It’s best to hang these art print sizes in open spaces. For example, you can put these picture frames in the living room or above the bed in the main bedroom at home. It’s also a very popular frame size to decorate the waiting room of an office or the entrance hall in public buildings for maximum impact.
8 Tips for Choosing the Right Frame Sizes
1. What is the size of the photo?
As you can see in the first part of this article, there’s a lot of flexibility regarding the perfect picture frame size – it all depends on the mat.
I do recommend that you don’t get a picture frame that’s too big – otherwise, the mat will overpower the photo.
2. Are you adding a mat?
If you choose to add a mat, keep in mind that you can choose different colors, materials and styles. The most common is a single white mat in cardboard with four equal borders.
However, you can customize the mat to achieve the perfect look for your picture.
Some of the most popular customizations are to leave a wider border on the bottom (to add the artist signature, for example), use a double mat to make it deeper, or use a multiple-window mat to make a photo collage in a single frame.
3. How much space do you have?
Sometimes you would like to have a big print with a wide mat and display your photo in the best possible way – however, if you have reduced space, using a big print will penalize the photo instead of adding value to it.
It’s better to have a smaller frame and give it some breathing room than cluttering the space because it will give a messy impression that will distract from the photo you want to showcase.
So, make sure you consider the amount of space available before you choose the frame. Always measure accurately and double-check to avoid any problems – especially if you’re ordering custom size picture frames.
4. How many photos you’re displaying
It’s not the same to display one photo vs many of them. When it’s just one, you can choose a bigger frame, even with a customize decoration or a more baroque design.
However, if you’re hanging multiple photos, you need to coordinate the sizes, colors, and designs of your picture frames.
The easiest choice is, of course, to choose the same picture frames for all the pictures – but it’s not a rule. You can mix different types of frames as long as they create a harmonious composition.
5. What is the subject of the photo?
Different subjects look better in specific sizes – as mentioned in the first part of the article. For example, you can’t really appreciate a group portrait printed in a 4″ x 6″ because individual faces are too small.
Yet, the size of the photo is not the only thing to consider according to the subject – also, the framing matters. For example, if you have fine art pictures featuring modern architecture, choosing gold leaf carved wood picture frames would be too contrasting.
Make sure the framing complements the picture and find a frame size that works best to highlight its contents.
6. What are the colors of the wall/room?
Like any other design or home decor element, photo frames need to follow a color palette to harmonize with the environment.
Keep in mind the color of the wall as well as the furniture and the colors from the picture. If you’re hanging multiple frames as a collage – make sure you coordinate them as well.
Check our guide to the triadic color system for some handy tips on pairing designs with your existing decor.
7. What style do you want?
There are countless styles when it comes to picture frames. For example, you can go for a modern minimalist style which usually comes from a thin metal framing in black or otherwise neutral color, which is particularly fitting for poster sizes.
Another popular style is the deep frame which is perfect for tabletop decorations – since they resemble a box, they are very stable, although hanging is also appealing because it draws you into the picture. You can use these for family photos, for example.
In conclusion, you can choose colorful, baroque, modern, floating or customized picture frames, and the results will be very different – so choose wisely.
8. Do you need a custom frame?
Given all the previous elements that you need to consider, you might realize that none of the standard frames fit your needs.
If this is the case, you can always go for a custom frame. You can visit local artisans if you have something that requires specific craftsmanship.
Otherwise – if you just need custom sizes – you can order online from any of the multiple websites you can find with a simple Google search.
My personal choice is one of the wood frames with hanging hardware in the smaller standard sizes mentioned above, as opposed to a big highlight piece, especially for a family photo. Also a simple frame style over an overly elaborate one.
We take so many photographs that choosing one to print and hang is an important decision. Then, once you have it, make sure you display it in the best possible way by choosing the right frame.
I hope this article make the choice simpler. If you have any questions or recommendations about frame sizes, styles, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.