Before you contract a framer to make the frame you should have a good idea of what you are after. Picture frames can vary dramatically in cost and there is no way you will get a frame made cheaply if you have a large or ornate moulding in mind. The cheapest frames are usually narrow, non-elaborate frames. Picture framers cost framing prices according to the raw material costs. Frames are generally graded from A frames to E frames with A frames being the cheapest.
The framer will usually have many off-cuts of the cheapest range of frames in stock, as they will be the most popular and therefore the most ordered-in by the framer. The only way you can reduce the cost further would be to not include a mount surround. Mounts increase the overall size of the frame and therefore the amount of moulding needed to make it. Not including a mount can reduce the frame size and impact its aesthetic integrity negatively. If you have taken the effort to have the picture framed in the first place it would be a shame to cut corners, sorry for the pun, by excluding the mount.
If the price is important, ask the framer if they had any off-cuts that he could use. This is like music to the framer’s ears. They are desperate to shift old stock and will run out the back to find a suitable off-cut, with an animated step you probably had not witnessed before!
The framer is constantly managing old stock and new stock. Storage space is a premium and the framer needs to sell old stock as quickly as new stock is ordered in.
Often customers choose a moulding that is not in stock. For a small picture, this actually results in a financial hit for the framer. If the cost for the frame job on a small picture is 35 Pounds and a three-metre length of moulding costs the framer 30 Pounds it’s not hard to see that there is a loss.
Mouldings come in lengths of three metres and the framer has to manage where to store leftover stock and how to recover the loss on that length.
In the past mouldings were only sold in packs of numerous moulding lengths. To mitigate this upfront expense the framer would only display a few moulding options. Today there are new companies that sell mouldings in single lengths and this has resulted in a greater variety of moulding choices now available.