How to Frame a Movie Poster

Movie posters are a huge collector’s item. Whether the movie poster is vintage or a newer poster, they attract a lot of attention in any home. Movie posters can look amazing displayed in your home, and can also be worth quite a bit of money. True vintage posters in particular tend to be worth quite a lot. Whether the poster is vintage or new, whether you are selling it or displaying it in your home, you want a frame that looks aesthetically pleasing and that does a good job of keeping the poster secured and protected. But how do you frame a movie poster?

Framing a movie poster requires a lot of thought and decision based on the amount of protection you are wanting. You have to pick between a foam backboard, regular or acid-free, and a mat backboard. Then you have to choose the type of glass, regular or acrylic. The last, and possibly most important, choice is the frame itself, metal or wood. All of these choices come after quite a few other things, like the material on the back of the poster for example. So, as you can see, there is a lot to consider and choose between. Ultimately, you just want the movie poster to be safe and secure in a beautiful frame.

how to frame a movie poster


Things to Consider for Your Movie Poster Frame

Before even picking the frame, there are some things you should consider. Though some things below will not apply to the newer movie posters, most will apply to both. Some of the things that will be important to consider are what the material on the back of the poster is, any extra material around the edges of the poster, and figuring out if the vintage poster is a true vintage poster. When you know all of these things, the value of your poster may be higher than you thought, and it may change the quality of frame that you want to get.

The Back of the Poster

The material that the back of the poster has will greatly depend on if your poster is a vintage poster or a newer poster. A vintage poster, which is a poster that was made before the 1980s, most often has a linen backing. Newer movie posters will instead have a vinyl backing. Linen is easy to cut, which is partly why some vintage posters don’t have a white frame of material around the printed part of the poster. A linen backing is reversible so if the backing is in poor shape, it does not affect the price or quality of the poster. Vinyl backings are very common on newer movie posters for a few different reasons. Vinyl is more difficult to cut so more often than not they are found with extra white material around the printed part of the poster. It is also a much sturdier material compared to linen. It is harder to fold than linen so the posters will receive less damage because of this.

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The Edges

Extra material around the edge of the poster will depend on the backing. Since linen is so easy to cut, they often don’t have extra material around them. This means that the poster itself is touching the frame instead of this extra material. Vinyl, being harder to cut, does have extra material around the edges. The white around the printed part of the poster is actually very helpful though. It ensures that the poster does not touch the frame at all, keeping the poster in good shape and displaying the entire thing, not having any parts cut off by the frame. This extra material can be added to posters with a linen backing, however, the only way to do that is by replacing the entire back of the poster.

Vintage or Not

There are two main indicators that a poster is vintage. The backing, and an NSS number. As mentioned above, vintage movie posters most often have a linen backing. This makes it a quick and easy way to tell if a poster is vintage or not. Also, if there is no extra white material around the edge of the poster, it most likely has a linen backing. It is a good idea to have a professional look at the movie poster even if the linen backing is the only thing making it a vintage poster. A professional can check the quality of the linen and tell you how much the poster is worth.

The other way to tell if a poster truly is a vintage poster is by looking for an NSS number on the back of it. An NSS, or National Screen Service, number indicates the year the poster was made and the order that it was released from the studio. If the movie poster has an NSS on it, not only is it vintage, but it may also be worth quite a bit of money. It is very important to get it seen by a professional if it has an NSS on it. You want a professional to make sure that the NSS is actually real. The reason this is so important is that NSS numbers can be faked. Finding out if it is a real number is also extremely important if you are planning on selling the poster. Vintage posters with an NSS tend to have higher quality, and more expensive, frames.

The Poster Backboard

There are two types of backboards that can be used for a movie poster. One is a foam backboard, and the other is a mat board. A foam board is the type of backboard most often used with move posters. This is because a regular foam board is very lightweight while also being pretty sturdy. There is another type of foam board used a lot, which is an acid-free foam board. Acid-free boards are often used for vintage or more valuable movie posters. They are very strong and water-resistant, which is why many sellers choose to use them. Both foam boards work great, acid-free just adds that extra level of protection. Also, they are both pretty light so they don’t add much weight to the frame. This is a nice bonus for sellers and people who know they will be moving the poster around a lot.

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Mat backboards are not used nearly as often as foam boards. But one reason why you should consider using a mat backboard is that they help keep the movie poster away from the frame. They also can keep the poster secured in place better than foam boards. Mat backboards can be heavy though, depending on the size of them. Because of this, more people tend to use a mat board if the poster is not going to be moved or shipped very often. It is important to not dry mount the poster, whether using a mat board or a foam board. Dry mounting can damage the movie poster, and if the poster is not cheap or easily replaceable, there is not a way to easily get it fixed.


The glass you choose to use is an extremely important decision that you will have to make. It keeps hands off of the movie poster and will keep it protected from wear and tear. The two most common glasses that are used are acrylic and normal glass. Normal glass is much more lightweight than acrylic is, though it is also much easier to break. Normal glass also doesn’t have any UV protection. This means that you have to be more careful about the placement of the movie poster. It won’t be able to be placed in a spot that gets a lot of sun throughout the day so that the colors of the poster do not fade. Since normal glass is quite easy to break, this option is ideal for a movie poster that won’t be moved around that often. You don’t want the poster to fall and have glass shards cut up and ruin the poster.

Acrylic is the other type of glass that is often used for the frames of movie posters. It is also the most popular glass choice for vintage movie posters. Acrylic glass can be purchased with UV protection, so you don’t have to worry about the poster getting exposed to too much sun. It is also very durable. Because of this, and the fact that it has UV protection, it is more expensive. Though the price also depends on the size of the poster because the larger the poster, the higher the price will be. This is true with both types of glass, but it is particularly true with acrylic. If the movie poster is going to be moved around a lot or shipped, acrylic is the way to go because it is harder to break. It is not impossible to break acrylic, but it is harder to break it.

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Choosing a Movie Poster Frame

Just like with glass, there are two types of frames most often used, metal and wood. Both protect the poster differently, wood being sturdier than most metal frames. Both have different weights, metal being lighter than wood. The weight is important to think about if the poster will be moved around a lot or shipped at all. They also have very different aesthetics, with wood frames having a larger variety of color options.

Metal Poster Frames

The most commonly used frames for movie posters are ones that are made of metal. They hold up well, keeping the poster protected. They are also a relatively light material which makes moving the poster around much easier. This is nice if the poster will be shipped or moved frequently, making it that much easier to move them. They are also much easier to fix or replace if they get damaged or broken. Sometimes you can just replace one side of the frame instead of having to buy an entirely new one. Another thing that goes along with that idea is that they can be taken apart and put together pretty quickly and easily. Metal frames also come in a variety of colors and sizes. You can pick a frame that matches your home, or that matches the poster. Metal frames have a more modern and clean look and feel about them, which is another reason that they are such a popular choice for a movie poster frame.

Wood Poster Frames

The other material that can be used as a movie poster frame is wood. Although it is not the most common choice, it is getting used more and more. They are very strong and sturdy, really protecting the poster. However, this also tends to make them heavier. This makes them more prone to being dropped. Because of this, wood is a better frame for a poster that will be staying in one place, not one that will be moved often or shipped. Also, if they do fall, you can see every chip and scrape on them since they cannot be easily repaired. Wood frames can come in a huge variety of colors. The wood can be stained for a beautiful, more natural look. They can also be painted, which means they can be literally any color you want them to be. This makes them work for any color scheme, though more natural wood frames can have an outdated look and feel to them.