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!
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!
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!
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.
These may be cheap wood picture frames, but they look expensive and would make a lovely gift, too!
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.
The frames have braces on the back where a simple sawtooth hanger is attached that allows them to hang from the wall.
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.
They really add so much warmth to the living room. Plus, I love looking at pictures of my babies!
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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!
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.
Using wood glue, place two braces on the backs. Weigh them down with something heavy so that the glue bonds correctly.
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.
Lightly sand all the edges to give a slightly distressed look.
Finally, attach a sawtooth picture hanger to the back and hang it up!
That’s it. Really, they couldn’t be easier to make and look pretty impressive in my opinion. What do you think?
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?
Definitely doesn’t need a sealer!
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!
Hi! I didn’t glue in between the boards, but you definitely could! A bit of glue won’t add any weight
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!
I did this! My fam loves them. I wish I could share a pic on here. Thanks for posting this! Cheers!
If you’re on Instagram, I’d love for you to share and tag me @jennakateathome!
Hi Jenna! Love this project and did something similar…check it out! https://www.janesreallife.com/diy-rustic-wall-decor/ I linked to your post, hope that is ok.
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?
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 :-)
I love these frames–so much twochicksandamom chose them as a Feature for Wonderful Wednesday! Hope you can visit again:).
These turned out great and so did your video! Videos are hard…which is why I’ve only done 1 and it was all of 10 seconds long :D I really do love them and want to thank you for sharing them with us at Funtastic Friday! Pinning!
Thanks Angie! I know, the videos scare me lol but they are helpful
they look fantastic indeed! Love the final results and would love to try them as well..Cheers from NYC and thanks for sharing it with #OMHGWW
I love how they turned out! I really like that you used different stains–it really makes it pop!
Thanks so much, Angela! I have to say that I love how they turned out too! I need to find more reasons to make something similar :-)
these are beautiful frames! we love to work with wood, too. Especially make it looking aged :) They, indeed, look like weathered pallets! Great job! thank you for inspiration!
Thanks so much, Nadia! xo
Gorgeous frames! I’ve wanted to make something similar buy balked at attaching hardware to hold a glass sheet over the picture. Never occurred to me to skip the glass, and yours look great without it! Loved the video and the descriptions with the pictures in the written tutorial.
Thanks so much, Audra!
I sooooo love these frames and will be making them this weekend as a x-mas gift. I wanted to know if there was a reason why you don’t glue the 7 vertical board together for a better hold. I need to transport them by plane and want to make sure they don’t fall apart along the way!
I didn’t have anything to hold them together while the glue dried. I did however let any excess glue seep into the sides. If you have clamps then I definitely would glue them!
I’m seriously obsessed with these! I need to make them asap – I know the perfect spot in my housethat has been lonely for too long. Thanks for sharing at Share the Wealth Sunday, we hope you stop by again!
Love your project. Thanks for joining us at the Inspiration Spotlight party.Shared. Off to peK at some more projects.
These frames look gorgeous! the clip to hang it up is so clever and I can’t believe it’s just cardstock for those frames! It looks really effective and easy enough to make :) well done.
Thanks so much, Clare! They are one my favorite things in our house :-)
What a great project and what a fun look. Thanks for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday!
This is such a great project! Love the look! Thanks for sharing it at Craft Frenzy Friday on Mom Home Guide.
This is really awesome! Thanks for sharing!!
Really gorgeous, would love to see big ones too! thanks so much for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!
I love these frames! They look amazing on your wall
Absolutely adore this idea!!! Looks so gorgeous, I might pinch this idea for our hallway!! Thank you for sharing with #OMHGWW, so happy to have you as my feature this week! http://fromevijawithlove.com/2016/10/25/diy-doers-wonderful-wedensday/
Thanks so much, Evija!
What a fabulous DIY!! love it. Thanks a lot for joining us at the Family Joy blog link up party.
What a great project. I need to make some of these. I am pinning! Thanks for sharing this easy project. I would love it if you would share this project at a link party I am co-hosting. I hope to see you. Have a great week. http://diy180site.blogspot.com/2016/10/dishing-it-and-digging-it-link-party-119.html
These frames are beautiful! Love the simple, rustic look!
These frames turned out absolutely beautiful. I hope you will share them with us at The Crafty Corner link party :)
These look so nice–rustic and tidy at the same time. It would be a good project to collaborate with the hubby on!
I’ve been looking for a DIY as simple as this! I’ll have to try it out. Thanks for sharing! Stopping by from Create and Crave.
These are very attractive. You did a great job. Feel free to come share it at a linkup today! http://pursueyourproject.com/family-joy-blog-link-39/
Omg so doing this . Love love love them
Hi, after you put the first stain on and wipe off, how long did you wait to put the gray stain on?
I did it immediately…make sure you really wipe the first coat off well. If it starts to feel really sticky just leave it an hour or so and you can come back to it. Otherwise, just give it a good 48 hours to dry when you’re done with all the coats of stain and you’ll be fine!
Hi! I absolutely LOVE this and can’t wait to try it! I was wondering where you bought your picture mats? Looking for the most cost-effective option! :) Thanks again!
I grabbed mine at Michael’s and used coupons to make them more affordable! xo
Hello! I want to make these. I was wondering what size did you cut them down to? You said you cut them down more after you bought them? Just wanted to know do I can get it cut to the right size at the store. Thank you!
Hi Katie! Cut them whatever size works for your space – mine are 22 inches long! I can’t remember why I cut them a bit shorter…I think it just looked better :-)
Love your blog! What great projects in the linky party!
I’m not sure that this is the right thread to comment about the Disney trip giveaway, but what an awesome prize for one lucky reader! My family had the most magical vacation ever at Disney World about 5 years ago. What I loved most is there was something for everyone, it truly was a whole family vacation. My kids were almost to little to remember the trip, so we are hoping to go back next year. I’m excited to experience Disney Magic again with a teen and tween.
These are sooooooooo cute getting everything around to try these today!! Thank you!!
Hi Jenna! I don’t know how I haven’t seen your site before – you are so talented!!! I’ve chosen this project as my favorite from Link Party Palooza and it will be featured on all 5 of our sites at this week’s party! Thanks so much for linking up, and if you ever want to contribute on Somewhat Simple, we’d love to have you!
Have a great week…………….
Oh wow! Thanks so much, Stephanie!! That’s so exciting – you just made my week! :-)
Love these frames, especially your details and step-by-step photos in how you made them. I didn’t pay attention to the size for my 1st attempt (too small) but still love how it looks. Your short video and replies to comments were also helpful.
I hope you share many more projects!
I love your picture frame idea. I made 5 of them! I showed my friends and now they are making them for their house. Thanks for sharing your idea and instructions.
Thanks so much, Jack! I’m so glad you made them and shared with your friends! I hope you all love these frames as much as I do :-)
Love these frames and am going to give them a shot tomorrow. This will be my first real project like this, so please forgive my dumb question. Did you glue the 7 boards together or does the back brace board hold them together?? Thanks for the info and the video tutorial! Wish me luck!
Hi Emily! Not a dumb question at all! You will find that the back brace is generally strong enough to keep them together but you can absolutely add glue to the sides of each board…just a little though so that it doesn’t ooze through the front! Also, wipe off any excess! Good luck and I love if you would share how it goes!
So rustic and elegant at the same time. Loved the video – have a question: in the video you show the brace being glued down on 6 planks, but your finished product on the living room wall has seven planks??
God catch! I decided after I made the first one that I preferred the look of 7 planks. Totally a personal preference thing…you can do as many as you want!
What a great idea! My gosh, you could make up a few and sell them, I bet! I am really tempted to try making them myself. I also think they would be great made out of pallet wood. A little more rough-surfaced and rustic-looking, but would be attractive in some settings. Thanks so much for the tutorial!
Thanks Naomi! Pallet wood would be perfect…I just had no interest in trying to find some lol ????
First time reading your blog today — are the actual white/yellow/gray pillows in your pictures not available online? I see you have some linked that are similar, but not the same. I really like the original ones! Thanks!
Hi Katie! Thanks for stopping by! The pillows are from Target but are no longer sold, unfortunately. Keep an eye out, though – sometimes they bring similar styles back! :-)
Thanks for the tutorial! i will totally be trying these. I think I’m going to use removable scrapbooking tape instead of gluing to the matts, that way i can change out the pictures when i want..
That’s a great idea, Kim! I didn’t know such a thing existed…i’lol have to try that!
These are awesome!! Thanks for the tutorial!!
Thanks for stopping by, Caitlin!
So cute and really simple! I actually really like how the pictures are on top and don’t have to be behind glass which always seems to add a glare and take away from the rustic look. Super cute!
Thanks! I’m super happy with how they turned out!
These turned out really neat! I love the variation in the wood color. I’m stopping by from the Work It Wednesday party :)
Thanks Emily! Have a great weekend :-)
I saw you on Work it Wednesday and I think these turned out so well!! Thanks for sharing!!
Love this! Very creative and warm. I found your link from the HappyHousie link party. Thanks for sharing :)