DIY Homemade Picture Frame

This DIY picture frame is not only a simple project but makes for a beautiful homemade piece of decor or thoughtful gift idea. Hundreds of readers have made them and you can, too, with a few basic materials!

homemade wooden picture frame

Simple Picture Frames You Can Make

These DIY picture frames are one of my favorite weekend projects ever. They are easy to make and require few materials. They can be customized to whatever shape, size and color fits your decor – which makes them the perfect project!

diy picture frame tutorial

Showcasing family photos is a sure-fire way to make any house feel like a home. We have had professional photos taken when all three of my boys were newborns, as well as for their first birthdays. I love framing them and hanging them all over the house.

When we moved into this house, I had the dilemma of having this really long stretch of wall behind our couch to decorate. I didn’t want one massive piece of art, but I did know that I wanted something simple, yet large enough to not look dinky on the wall.

After coming across some reclaimed wood frames on a very expensive website, I decided to try and make my own. And so this tutorial for homemade wooden picture frames was born!

DIY picture frame with mat. Homemade with cheap materials

Anytime you have an inspiration image and you are trying to figure out how to recreate it, start with the basics. For this photo frame, I knew I needed to have a wooden backing, then a matted area for the photograph to sit on, and finally a “frame” on top.

I toyed with the idea of using some sort of plastic or acrylic on top to replicate glass, but quickly realized it wasn’t the worth the effort. They look crisp and beautiful without it.

Basic DIY picture frame

These may be cheap wood picture frames, but they look expensive and would make a lovely gift, too!

creative picture frame DIY tutorial
creative p

And they are so simple to make. They look like old weathered pallets but in fact they are basic white wood 1 x 3’s from the hardware store that have been stained to look all old and rustic.

The staining technique is simple – it’s just layers of dark stain with a gray stain on top. By varying the intensity of the different stains (the longer it’s on, the darker the stain ends up), you get a variety of color on the wood.

My whitewashed wood technique is also another method that would work well here if you would prefer a lighter look.

These homemade picture frames are perfect for family photos

The frames have braces on the back where a simple sawtooth hanger is attached that allows them to hang from the wall.

DIY large picture frame. Creative picture frame idea

The front of the picture frames is simply a large piece of black card stock, layered with a smaller piece of canvas/tan colored card stock and finally the photo with a cream photo mat on top.

Simple DIY homemade picture frame ideas
How to make a simple DIY picture frame from wood

They really add so much warmth to the living room. Plus, I love looking at pictures of my babies!

These DIY picture frames are simple to make with wood, cardboard and some stain

What you'll need to make this project

Materials Needed

  • 1 x 3’s cut to size (Lowes/Home Depot will do this for free if you don’t have a saw). 
    • Note: My frames are 22 inches long and 7 boards wide (just over 17 inches). I purchased 1 x 3 x 8’s and had them cut down into 4 equal pieces. So I got 4 boards from each 8 foot piece at round $4.50 for the entire 8 ft board.
  • Smaller boards to brace the backs (whatever you can find that’s low profile. Get these cut to about 1.5 ft pieces)
  • Wood Stain – I used Minwax Dark Walnut & Classic Gray (the small 8oz pots are under 5 bucks each)
  • Foam Brushes
  • Rags
  • Wood Glue
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • 11 x 14 card stock, black (or a black mat if you can’t get large card stock)
  • 8 x 11 cardstock burlap color
  • 5 x 7 photo
  • Removable glue dots
  • Smaller mat for 5 x 7 photo (cream)
  • Sanding paper/block

I’ve put together a video tutorial to help you… or you can just skip over it and read the directions below ;-)

DIY Picture Frame Video Tutorial

Watch this updated video to see how I improved my method using the removable glue dots so that the photos can be changed out as needed.


Instructions

Stain your wood. Start by putting a coat of Dark Walnut on all the boards except for a few. Immediately wipe it off 3/4 of them. Let it sit for 20 minutes on the remainder before wiping off. This will allow for a different depth of color on the boards.

DIY rustic weathered picture frame
How to make a faux pallet picture frame

Next, apply a coat of Classic Gray to all boards, including the ones that didn’t get Dark Walnut. Again, wipe it off a few, and leave it sit longer on others.

How to stain wood to look rustic
How to stain wood to make it look old

At this point, it’s all a matter of preference whether you want to add more gray stain or darken up some of the boards. It’s all about getting different colors on the wood. Play around with them! 

Simple wood frame tutorial

If you want a really old look, you can also add some watered down white paint or liming wax. I did not do this but it does look good, too!

By the way, you’ll notice the ends of my pieces of wood are not stained. I wasn’t sure what length I wanted my frames to be…so I didn’t stain them as I knew I would be cutting them. I did stain them once I had decided on the length I was happy with.

Arrange your boards so that the colors vary. Flip 7 of them all over, laying them tightly together.

diy pallet photo frames


Using wood glue, place two braces on the backs. Weigh them down with something heavy so that the glue bonds correctly.

diy wooden picture frames
The back of the photo frame with the brace piece

Once dry, attach the black card stock to the front, using Mod Podge or Elmer’s Glue. Again, place something down on it and let it dry.

On top of the black, glue down the piece of tan colored card stock (you may need to cut it to fit correctly). Put some removable glue dots on the back of your photo and press it into the center of the tan colored card stock. Finally, line the back of the cream mat, and press it down on top of the photo.

Note: It’s important to use the removable glue dots and not regular glue, or you won’t be able to remove the photo and the mat on top of it.

Attaching the mat to the front of the picture frame

Lightly sand all the edges to give a slightly distressed look.

Finally, attach a sawtooth picture hanger to the back and hang it up!

Saw tooth hanger on the back of the picture frame

That’s it. Really, they couldn’t be easier to make and look pretty impressive in my opinion. What do you think?

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DIY Rustic Picture Frame Tutorial

How to Make a Simple DIY Picture Frame

Yield: 1 Frame
Active Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $20

This DIY wooden picture frame is not only a simple project but makes for a beautiful homemade piece of decor or thoughtful gift idea.

Materials

  • 1 x 3's cut to size (Lowes/Home Depot will do this for free).  My frames are 22 inches long and 7 boards wide (just over 17 inches).
  • Smaller boards to brace the backs (whatever you can find that's low profile. Get these cut to about 1.5 ft pieces) 
  • Wood Stain - I used Minwax Dark Walnut & Classic Gray 
  • Foam Brushes
  • Rags or paper towel
  • Wood glue
  • Mod Podge or Elmer's School Glue
  • 11 x 14 card stock or picture mat, black
  • 8 x 11 card stock, burlap or tan color (length will need to be trimmed)
  • Small mat for a 5 x 7 photo, cream
  • 5 x 7 photo of your choice
  • Removable glue dots

Instructions

  1. Stain your wood. Start by putting a coat of Dark Walnut on all the boards except
    for a few. Immediately wipe it off 3/4 of them. Let it sit for 20 minutes on the
    remainder before wiping off. Next, apply a coat of the Classic Gray stain to all
    boards, including the ones that didn't get Dark Walnut. Again, wipe it off a few,
    and leave it sit longer on others.
  2. At this point, it's all a matter of preference whether you want to add more gray
    stain or darken up some of the boards. It's all about getting different colors on the
    wood. Play around with them!
  3. If you want a really old look, you can also add some watered down white paint. I
    did not do this but it does look good, too!
  4. By the way, you'll notice the ends of my pieces of wood are not stained. I decided
    to cut my pieces shorter so I stained them at the very end.
  5. Arrange the boards so that the colors vary. Flip 7 of them all over, laying them
    tightly together.
  6. Using wood glue, place two braces on the backs. Weigh them down with
    something heavy so that the glue bonds correctly.
  7. Once dry, attach the black card stock using Mod Podge or Elmer's Glue. Again, place
    something down on it and let it dry.
  8. Glue down the piece of tan card stock (you may need to cut it to fit correctly). Use glue dots to place
    the photo, centered, on top. Finally, place glue dots around the back of the cream colored mat and press it down over the photo.
  9. Lightly sand all the edges to give a slightly distressed look.
  10. Attach a sawtooth picture hanger to the back and hang it up!

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75 Comments

  1. Hi! Quick question… I made some similar diy frames and the stain says to cover with a sealer… I have not made much with wood before… is that necessary for a picture frame or just for something that would be outdoors or get scratched easily. I didn’t see a sealer used in your tutorial… did you just stain?

  2. 5 stars
    Hello, Jenna Kate! This project is EXACTLY what I was looking for when deciding how to frame all my puzzles! I only have one question: did you glue the 1″ x 3″ boards together prior to flipping them over for the braces? It wasn’t in the instructions or your video. I just wonder if it would make the overall finished piece heavier with more glue. I’m concerned because I’ll be framing large puzzles which will require more and longer boards. My puzzles are 18″ x 24″ and 48″ x 13″. Thanks in advance! When I’m done, I’ll tag them on Instagram!

      1. Holy Moly! I did NOT expect you to answer so quickly. THANK YOU! I’m heading to the store to see what I can find. I live in Costa Rica and there’s no Home Depot-like store close to us, but there are hardware stores. I’m taking pics of everything I need in case I don’t know the words in Spanish.🤔🤣

        P.S. LOVE getting all your emails! Really enjoy reading all your ideas. Once our house is complete, I’ll be putting more than one project into play. This frame will be my first! Again, thank you!

  3. So I want to do this but my wood distressed frame. However, my picture is 11×14. I don’t want all the framing. Was just going to put down burlap and/or white/cream cardstock and then the picture. I just wanted to know what ratio I would use for the frame. I see yours is 22×17. Any help?

    1. Hi Shane,

      Just use your picture as a template. Place it over the wood and determine how much space you want around it. That’s all I did to come up with my sizing :-)

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