The last piece of your puzzle has finally been placed. All your hours of work, careful focus, and tears of happiness (and sometimes frustration) are all worth it. Now what?
The fun doesn’t have to end when you fit the last piece into place. If taking apart your labor of love is more than you can bear, try preserving your puzzle instead. With all the cool puzzles out there, you can create a framed piece of artwork that fits your preferred style and theme. Better yet, it’s artwork that you put together with your own hands.
Hang on to it as a keepsake of your creative process, put it up on the wall, or pass along the finished product to a family member or friend.
Not sure where to start? We’ll help you through every step of how to frame a puzzle—getting together the right tools, mounting the pieces, and framing your final masterpiece.
Choosing the Correct Frame
Buying a frame for your puzzle isn’t too different from buying one for a regular photo. With careful attention and the right measurements, your frame will fit perfectly.
Step 1: Measure Your Puzzle
When you first get your puzzle, you might think the measurements will be a piece of cake. After all, the dimensions are on the box, right?
This might seem like a quick solution, but it’s important to confirm that the measurement is accurate. Even if the numbers are off by a fraction of an inch, it could mean the difference between easily sliding your puzzle into place or having to reorder your frame and start all over again.
For reference, puzzles on Redbubble come in the following sizes:
- 30 pieces — 9.5 inches (width), 7.5 inches (height)
- 110 pieces — 9.5 inches (width), 7.5 inches (height)
- 252 pieces — 13.5 inches (width), 10.5 inches (height)
- 500 pieces — 20.5 inches (width), 15 inches (height)
- 1000 pieces — 29.5 inches (width), 19.75 inches (height)
Step 2: Consider Your Puzzle Thickness
Puzzles are thicker than a normal photo or print—usually around 1 mm. Check with the frame supplier to make sure their frames can accommodate your puzzle needs.
When considering thickness, you’ll also need to decide whether or not to add matting to your frame. A matboard sits between the frame and the puzzle to give it a more finished look and to protect the piece. A mat can add about 1/8th of an inch in depth.
Step 3: Find a Frame That Will Accommodate Your Puzzle’s Size and Thickness
Now that you have all your measurements in hand, it’s time to find a frame that compliments the piece. It’ll need to be large enough and thick enough to fit the puzzle, but it also needs to be sturdy enough to support your masterpiece when hanging on a wall.
Option One: How to Mount a Puzzle at a Craft Store
A craft store can perform what’s called a “dry mounting,” which includes gluing puzzle pieces to a heat-sensitive adhesive. This service typically costs around $15 to $20 and will get you a perfectly preserved puzzle in no time.
Depending on the services offered by the craft store, they may offer to glue the puzzle for you. If not, you’ll have to glue it at home before you bring it in. We’ll talk more about the gluing process later on.
Option 2: How to Mount a Puzzle At Home
Framing a completed puzzle comes with some challenges. How do you slide the puzzle into the frame without it falling apart? How do you keep the puzzle intact inside the frame?
That’s where mounting comes in. Whether you’re putting together a themed puzzle or a scenic puzzle, these steps will walk you through the mounting process from home.
Step 1: Cut Out the Correct Size Backing
Once your puzzle is complete, you’ll need to mount it onto a backing before framing. A solid piece of backing will help your puzzle stay flat and intact.
A thin piece of cardboard, foam board, wax paper, or parchment paper can all work as a proper backing. As long as the board is sturdy enough to keep the puzzle together and thin enough to fit inside your frame, it should do the trick.
Before you start, measure the size of your frame and the size of your puzzle to ensure that the backing board is the right size.
Step 2: Make Sure Everything is Flat
Put your puzzle on a flat surface, like the kitchen table. Take your backing and place it parallel to the table. Then, gently slide it beneath the puzzle.
Once you’ve centered the puzzle on the backing, you need to make sure everything is smooth and flat. Use a rolling pin (or another round object, like a can or a cardboard tube) to evenly flatten your puzzle on the backing.
Step 3: Glue the Puzzle Together
Puzzles fall apart just about anywhere, even on a flat, stable surface. A puzzle adhesive will keep your creation from falling apart inside the frame.
Before you start gluing, put wax paper underneath the puzzle to keep your surface clean.
Apply glue to both the front and back of the puzzle. While different types of glue will work, it’s best to play it safe with designated puzzle glue or Mod Podge puzzle glue.
A typical paintbrush will work, but you’ll run the risk of leaving streak marks on the surface. To keep things even, try using a foam brush or something with a straight edge, like a credit card or a piece of cardboard.
Brush a moderate amount of adhesive over the top of the puzzle. Make sure to spread it evenly across the full puzzle, getting adhesive in the cracks of every piece.
Always wait for the glue to fully dry before handling. It can take up to 4 hours for the glue to completely seal and dry.
Step 4: Glue the Puzzle to the Backing
Once that glue has dried, you may notice the puzzle starts to curl. That’s because the glue on the front is pulling the pieces together. To ensure the puzzle stays flat, you’ll also need to glue the puzzle to the backing.
Carefully flip the puzzle over and separate the wax paper from the puzzle. Then, apply glue to the back of the puzzle. Finally, you can place the completed piece onto the backing and allow the glue to dry, sticking it in place.
Step 5: Frame Your Puzzle
And now the moment you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to frame your puzzle. Once the puzzle is fully sealed, dry, and mounted on the board, it’s time to place it in the frame. Thankfully, this is the easiest step of the process—just slide it into the frame and lock it in.
Option 3: How to Frame a Puzzle Without Glue
Maybe you’re not a fan of making a mess. Or you’re putting together kids puzzles with the whole family and don’t want to risk the sticky aftermath. Fortunately, you don’t need glue to secure your puzzle in place.
Step 1: Measure the Puzzle
Just like the previous methods, you need to start with accurate measurements. Compare the measurements of your puzzle to that of your frame—and don’t forget to consider the thickness too.
Step 2: Find the Correct Frame
The right frame should accommodate the size and thickness of your puzzle. It also needs to have a sturdy backing to give the puzzle a bit of extra support. You can also buy special jigsaw frames that let you frame a puzzle in seconds—no glue needed.
Step 3: Flip the Puzzle Over
To do this properly, you’ll need to make a sandwich. Slide a piece of cardboard or poster board beneath the puzzle. Then, place another one on top. For extra security, place a binder clip on all sides to keep it secure.
Flip the entire thing quickly and smoothly in one motion. For a larger puzzle, enlist the help of a friend or family member.
Step 4: Secure the Puzzle with Tape
Next, apply a sticky adhesive to the back of your puzzle. You can buy specially-made backings to cover your whole puzzle all at once, but a strong, clear packing tape will also get the job done. Make sure you’ve covered every inch of the puzzle and press firmly down on the tape.
Step 5: Carefully Transfer the Puzzle Onto the Frame’s Backing
Just like the previous method, framing should be the easiest part. In this case, it’s best to remove the frame’s backing first. Then, carefully lay your puzzle over the backing.
Step 6: Assemble the Rest of the Frame
Once your puzzle is laid out, assemble the rest of the frame around it. Keep the backing as steady as possible to keep the puzzle from shifting as you work.
Other Ways to Display a Puzzle
When it all comes down to it, your finished puzzle is just like any other piece of art. You can hang it on the wall to accent your living room, put it over your bed like a poster, or let it sit on your dresser.
The options are endless. If you’re a little more creative-minded, try showing off your puzzle in a new way. For example, display the puzzle beneath a layer of glass on your coffee table. Or make a tapestry out of different puzzles put together.
The Bottom Line
Puzzles aren’t just a cool piece of art to display in your home. They’re a testament to the time, dedication, and teamwork it took to get there. Now that you know how to frame a puzzle, you’re well on your way towards capturing those memories—and adding something a little more unique to your home decor. If you need help with other types of wall decor, learn how to hang a poster (or frame one for a more elevated look) or how to hang a tapestry.