How to Frame a Puzzle - Mount & Hang Too!
How to Frame a Puzzle
Many people like to frame completed puzzles for display. There are many ways to do this yourself, or an easy solution is to take it to your local craft or framing store and have it done professionally.
To transport your puzzle to a craft store, make sure it is glued first - then sandwich between two pieces of cardboard or use one of the many storage options available (check-out our line of puzzle portfolios). Make sure to keep it covered to avoid damages in the transport process.
We recommend having the puzzle dry-mounted (adhered to a thick piece of sturdy foam board) before framing to preserve the puzzle seamlessly and ensure no pieces fall out. This process costs about $15 at your local Hobby Lobby, depending on the size. If you are trying to be budget-conscious, it is entirely possibly to simply glue your puzzle at home and them find a frame that fits the size of your puzzle and frame it like you would a poster.
Ideally, puzzles should be covered with glass or a nice transparent plastic sheet inside the frame because the cover will protect the puzzle from fingerprints or scratches. The cover will also help secure the puzzle from collapsing or bowing from within the frame. Many customers recommend using conservation glass with built-in UV protection which will keep the puzzle colors looking vibrant for many years without fading. Once the puzzle is framed, it will look great and last a long time without any worry.
How to Mount a Puzzle
The best way to display your puzzle once it is glued is to mount it on a backer board. Why use backer board? If you try to hang it after just gluing, there is a good chance pieces will fall out with time. A somewhat rigid backer board will help prevent your puzzle from warping!
You have two choices for mounting:
Method #1 – Visit your Local Hobby Store
We generally recommend you find a locally Hobby Lobby, or a similar craft store, and ask them to do a “Dry Mounting” Basically they use a special piece of backer board that has heat sensitive adhesive that will glue your puzzle to the board instantly.
Method #2 - Do it Yourself
What you'll need:
Purchase a piece of 1/4” foam board from your local hobby shop or craft supply store and while there also purchase spray adhesive and a razor blade if you don't have these already. (DO NOT try to use puzzle glue or any other kind of liquid glue unless you are going to mount it in a frame. We have tried many different types of glue and the liquid glues usually cause the board to warp due to the glue not drying evenly.)
Next position your glued puzzle on the backer board and draw an outline with a pencil. Make sure to mark your line, ever-so-slightly, just inside of your puzzle dimensions. This will help "hide" your backer board, allowing only your puzzle to be seen! It will also prevent further trimming later on. This is an important point because you definitely do not want to try and trim the foam once it has the puzzle glued to it.
Now, simply cut out your board. A straight edge (ruler) and a razor blade work best with the foam board!
The next step is to glue your puzzle to the backer board and because you are using a spray adhesive we recommend you do this in a ventilated area. Personally I spread newspaper out on my garage floor and spray the glue on the foam board. Now you are ready to apply the puzzle to the board and once again it is easier if have a second set of hands to help you get it centered just right. (Keep in mind that the spray adhesives dry much quicker than the liquid glues, so read the can to see how long you have before the glue sets.) Once you have it laid down on the board, get your rolling pin and roll over the whole puzzle to make sure it bonds well to the board.
Depending on the size of your puzzle, you may need to apply some weighted objects to ensure that the puzzle "presses out" nice and flat on your board! A stack of some good old heavy books will work just fine!
Now, once again, let your puzzle dry completely!
How to Hang Up a Puzzle
There are two methods you can use to hang your puzzle.
(Can be done after the puzzle has already been mounted to the board)
You can purchase 3M Picture hanging strips from Home Depot, Home Hardware, Rona, Reno Depot or similar hardware store. One package will suffice for a 1000 piece puzzle or less. Because they are Velcro, you can easily reposition them to get it level and you don’t have to put holes in your wall. You can see why we use Method #1!
(Must be done before the puzzle is mounted to the board)
You can purchase some 20 gauge craft wire from your local hobby store and make a traditional wire hanger with your board. Start by cutting or punching two (very small) holes: one on each side of the board, a few inches from the edge and roughly halfway down from the top!
Using a thin wire push it through one hole and run it with some slack down to the other hole and back out. (You are making a traditional picture frame wire mount.) Next, tie a small knot at the end of your wire and gently pull until the knot sinks into the foam board. (Don’t pull too hard or you might yank it all the way through.)
Now make sure you have some slack just like the wire on a regular picture frame. Cut the wire leaving enough room for a small knot and pull it into the foam board once again. When you hang your puzzle, the wire acts as a self-adjusting hanger, allowing you to balance the frame evenly.
Lastly, grab a nail or any typical picture hanging hardware and finish hanging up your puzzle. Ah! The finished product! All of that hard work has paid off!
FAQs and Tips
Do we have to use Glue?
That is a common question. Gluing jigsaw puzzles is not for everyone! Many people just don't like glue! It can be a mess to deal with, if you are not careful! If you prefer, you can use Smart Puzzle Glue Sheets by Eurographics. These are essentially contact paper made for jigsaw puzzles.
You'll need to "flip" your puzzle, which goes a lot easier with a second pair of hands. One tip is to slide it onto a large piece of cardboard, and then place another large piece of cardboard on top (use parchment paper between the front of the puzzle and the cardboard to protect it if you want.) Hold the two pieces together tightly and flip it over. Removed the top piece of cardboard and voila! The puzzle is flipped! Once you have it flipped it is very easy to apply the Puzzle Presto.
Can I just use regular contact paper?
We would definitely NOT recommend it since regular contact paper is very sticky and unforgiving! If you "goof-up" you will have a hard time trying to pull it up to reposition it. We think that gluing jigsaw puzzles is a great way to keep and display that favorite puzzle of yours!
What do I do if my puzzle is not flat after gluing it?
If the edges curl up somewhat after the glue has dried, try turning the puzzle over and brushing a coat of glue on the back side of the pieces. When this dries, it will usually pull itself flat again. Alternatively, if the entire puzzle is dry, you can cover the surface and place underneath any weighted flat object that is bigger than the puzzle. After a day or so being pressed, it should stay flat.
Can I glue any type of puzzle?
Avoid using glue at all on metallic puzzle or puzzles that have high quality finishing (glossy, lenticular, glitter etc.) For these, we recommend using Smart Puzzle Glue Sheets by Eurographics. This is an adhesive paper that is applied to the back of the puzzle and holds it together in preparation for mounting.