Learn 15 ways to decorate those cheap wooden picture frames from the craft store! These DIY picture frame projects are incredibly easy and budget friendly. Makes a great gift or perfect addition to your home decor.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate. Some of these techniques are easier than others, but none of them are exceptionally hard. Basic crafting skills are necessary, like using a paintbrush or punches and stenciling.
I've taken you on a stroll through the craft store, and first we learned to decorate birdhouses. Then I showed you how to decorate a vase. Today's trip is going to be fun because you are going to the unfinished wood section – it's time to decorate those cheap wooden picture frames!
Cheap Picture Frames
When I say “cheap” I mean in numbers only, not quality. There are pretty decent/sturdy picture frames at the craft store for an inexpensive price. If I'm being honest, my favorite are the $1 wooden picture frames (they usually hold 4″ x 6″ photos). These frames are inexpensive of course, but they are also the perfect size for decorating.
I love that for $1, you can create a DIY picture frame of your own. These projects provide easy inspiration for a wide variety of techniques. Don't be afraid to jump in. If you mess up, simply purchase another frame for $1 and start again!
Where to Get Wooden Picture Frames
You can get wood photo frames at Michaels, Jo-Ann, AC Moore, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, and a variety of other smaller craft stores. The large chains have them for $1 typically starting at 4 x 6, and then the prices and sizes go up from there. I know sometimes they have small heart and square frames as well.
The best places to buy bulk frames are Amazon.com and Oriental Trading Company. The most inexpensive frames online are a little bit over $1, and if you have a large project (like summer camp, bible school, or a craft night) it's more practical to buy them online anyway. Craft stores probably won't have enough in stock.
DIY Picture Frame Supplies
I use a variety of supplies to decorate wooden picture frames: scrapbook paper, paint, ribbon, stencils, Mod Podge, tissue paper, napkins, brads, wood shapes, and more. I don't use a separate sealer on top – just Mod Podge. And sometimes I use Dimensional Magic to accent certain areas or wood pieces for a little interest.
Preparing Your Surface
Many times I don't do anything to prepare my photo frames for crafting. However my mother (an admitted perfectionist) always likes to sand her frames. She uses a sanding block on all of her wooden frames to remove any splinters and smooth edges. You can use the frame as-is or basecoat with paint first. It's up to you!
Paint and Mod Podge to Use
You can use regular acrylic paint (like FolkArt) as well as spray paint or chalk paint. The only type of paint I would shy away from is latex, at least if you are going to use Mod Podge (they don't work well together). You don't HAVE to paint, but I personally love to paint so I always do.
As far as Mod Podge formulas, you can use regular Matte, Satin, or Gloss depending on the finish you are going for. You don't need to use Hard Coat unless the frame is going to be handled frequently (though you could use Hard Coat if that's what you have on hand). Of course the Sparkle and Glitter formulas are a nice touch to a frame, especially during the holidays. It's really up to you.
Are you ready to see the DIY photo frame ideas? Here they are!
Decorate Wooden Picture Frames
You're going to use Mod Podge and squares from your favorite comic books for this DIY photo frame! If the idea of cutting up comic books doesn't work for you, use color copies (preferably laserjet) for the task.
This DIY picture frame is so unique – you'll mix Collage Clay with various colors of acrylic paint to create a textured, chippy effect. What I love about this DIY frame is that it's nearly impossible to mess up due to the technique.
Learn how to decorate a frame with tissue paper and Mod Podge. If you're a beginning crafter, this is the perfect project for you! It's so easy, even a kid could do it.
If you've never tried wood burning, it's very satisfying. Learning to burn wood takes a little bit of time, but the effects are pretty amazing. You can also add paint to your frame creation for some interest! Don't forget to visit my beginner's guide to wood burning – it will help you on your journey.
If you're looking for a DIY photo frame project that takes the shortest amount of time possible and still looks good, you're going to like this Duck Tape version. Look for patterns that are easy to continue based on the tape you're using. Decorate several wooden photo frames in a matter of minutes with this technique.
6. Monogram Art
You don't necessarily need to put a photo in a frame! I love this DIY frame project because it uses a monogram in the center, which means you can personalize it any way you like. This would be so pretty for a seasonal mantel.
Distressing a frame with chalk paint is always a favorite because it's hard to mess up. The whole point is that it doesn't look uniform! This DIY photo frame uses two colors of chalk paint as well as an antiquing wax on top.
If you're going to this seashore this summer (say that three times fast), try a DIY picture frame using some of the shells you collect. Kids will love using brightly colored paint for this project – and there's also Mod Podge and glitter, so that's a big win as far as I'm concerned.
What a sweet way to get the kids involved in a picture frame project! They'll use their handprints to make the sun. This DIY frame is perfect for an end-of-the-school-year idea.
10. Layered 14K Gold
Have you ever noticed the wooden laser cut frames at Michaels? They are perfect for layering on wooden picture frames or plaques. And that's exactly what happened in this project, with the addition of a little spray paint. The two pieces look like they were meant to be together all along.
You can make a DIY picture frame display that packs a punch by using four separate frames and gluing them together. I wouldn't attach them with Mod Podge; instead use a hot glue gun or strong craft glue. The Mod Podge comes in handy when you are decorating the fronts. These have a fun Greek / sorority theme.
12. Simply Selfies
You can easily add interest to a DIY photo frame project using wood shapes! The polka dotting above is achieved with patterned scrapbook paper and Mod Podge. I love the addition of the photos to the corners with teenie tiny clothespins.
This frame might look like it was made using scrapbook paper – but it wasn't! That is all paint and stenciling, my friends. This DIY frame project is REALLY easy for someone just learning to stencil, and the aged look helps cover up any boo-boos (not that you're going to make any, of course).
14. Stenciled Glass
Some wooden photo frames come with glass; some don't. If yours happens to come with glass remember that paint not only looks great on the wood but on the paint as well! You can decorate with a stencil for a piece of art or put a unique design around the photo in a painted frame.
15. Scrapbook Paper
This DIY picture frame uses one piece of scrapbook paper and some Mod Podge for the main pattern, then a wood laser cut piece layered on top. I painted the laser cut piece and added Dimensional Magic for some interest. Any project where I can incorporate Dimensional Magic? I'm in!
Are you ready to grab some wooden picture frames from the store and then try a DIY frame project? I've provided you with some ideas – now let me know what you try in the comments!