What Is A Tray Frame Or Floating Frame And How To Install Artwork

When it comes to framing artwork, it’s a good idea to know what types of frame you’re looking for and how it’s going to best complement your artwork. There are plenty of canvas frames (also known as floating frames) out there for you to make use of, and each one has a different impact on the beauty of your piece. We’ll be covering tray frames to show you just how wonderful they can be for you.

What Is A Tray Frame?

A tray frame is a minimalistic type of frame (often referred to as glassless frames) that can be used around a finished canvas. A very small gap is left between the edge of the frame and the edge of the canvas to preserve the artwork, but it is barely noticeable and perfectly fits in with the minimalistic look the tray frame is trying to achieve.

There are plenty of different types of tray frames out there, all boasting that unique and minimalistic look that gives attention to the art piece over everything else. We’ll cover a few of them as we get further on to give you a good idea of what to look for when it comes to tray frames and installing your artwork.

History Of The Tray Frame

The tray frame can be dated back to the 18th century and is most commonly attributed to the artwork of France in that era. It was seen as a stylish and minimalistic way to showcase art without taking too much away from the contents of the canvas itself. Too many frames were lavish and rich, meaning that people were often overwhelmed with the abrupt stylings of the frame and it took away from the grandeur of the artwork itself. The tray frame was designed to stop this from happening.

Different Types Of Tray Frames

There are plenty of different types of tray frames out there, each one offering a different style unique to the artwork that it is portraying. Each piece of art could benefit from a different style of frame, so it’s important to do some research before investing in one, only to find that it isn’t exactly the right fit for the feeling you were trying to achieve.

We’ve had plenty of experience trying to find the right types of tray frames for different pieces of art, and we know what to look for now. However, since everyone has unique and individual tastes, it’s a good idea to do some of your own research into the types available before making that final decision yourself.

Stretcher Rims

The stretcher rims are a minimalistic type of tray frame that is done by stretching the artwork across a frame. The canvas is stretched out to fill all the corners of the frame and allows it to stand out a lot nicer when mounted on a wall. Rather than just having a flat canvas on the wall, the stretcher frame gives it a nice extra touch, while still keeping that minimal look and drawing attention to the artwork.

Standard Tray Frame

The standard tray frame is the most likely candidate, which uses the frame as we’ve already explained. It is tightly framed around the artwork but allows for a small gap between the edge of the frame and the edge of the canvas to preserve the work. It can vary in width based on the size of the canvas and the preferences of the purchaser, so have a look at what width you’ll want best.

These are the ideal types of tray frames that are used for most pieces of art around the country. Of course, it all depends on preference and if you fancy something a little more stylish, perhaps the solid wood tray or a custom-fit one will be more your style (see below). Most canvases look excellent inside standard tray frame types though.

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Solid Wood Tray Frames

These types of tray frames give a little extra sophistication to the overall look of the displayed artwork. They generally come a little less thick than the standard types of tray frames, but they do a fantastic job of bringing a bit of extra life to the piece.

Custom-Fit Tray Frames

You don’t always have a rectangular or square-shaped piece of art that needs to be displayed. Sometimes it’ll be a less obvious shape and will need a little bit more attention when it comes to finding the right tray frame for you. These frames are often made to fit the exact shape of your artwork and will use a strengthening lattice pattern on the back to make sure that they stay tightly packed around the edges of your canvas.

How To Install A Painting In A Tray Frame

Before you do anything else, you’ll want to measure the exact size of your painting so you know the size that the tray frame will need to be. Ensure you get an accurate height and width measurement by using a guillotine if you have one available.

Once you’ve done this, order yourself the right-sized tray frame that will work for your artwork. It should have spacers around (or you can use foamboard ones if you have them available) that will help to align the canvas in the center. Make sure to get the canvas directly in the center of the frame before continuing because it should be just the right size to avoid any touching of the edges.

Then flip your frame over and secure the canvas in place. Screws should be provided for you, make sure you tighten them up properly to fix the canvas to the frame with little hassle and no worry of it falling out of position at a later time.


Hopefully, we’ve cleared up the steps needed to finding the right tray frame for you as well as getting your painting installed in one ready for display. It can be a little tricky at first when you haven’t considered anything like this before, and that’s okay! It’s taken a long time to develop the experience and know-how that we have here today. Just make your decision based on whichever frame looks the most appealing to you to start with!

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