DIY Foam Frames of Awesomeness

I am so excited to show you this project – honestly when I started I wasn’t sure it’d turn out that great, but wowza, I amazed myself!  Can you guess what these frames are made out of??

I made them out of Foam Core Boards – really!  Inexpensive, regular foam board.  And it’s one of those projects that looks even better in real life – it’s hard to see the faux texture in pictures.

Want to make some? Of course you do!  Let me give you the run down….

First you’re going to want to trace or freehand (I trace – I can’t draw!) a frame.  I used a frame from my wall, plus a template of a frame I found on my Silhouette software, plus just a few straight shapes (square, long rectangle, etc).  Just draw what you want:

I was nervous to work with foam board because I can never get nice edges and I wouldn’t even think about curves.  But then a thought came to me to try using a hot knife – so I ran out and grabbed one from the store – this is what I bought:

I tested it on some scraps and wowza, it was AMAZING!  Hot knife through butter – where has it been all my life?!  And I was able to work around curves and everything.  The key is to just move slowly and let the knife melt through the foam instead of trying to push hard and force it through.  I felt so professional using a heat tool – -

For the curvy edges, I picked up the board and moved around my lines.  For the straight edges, I put it on a flat surface and ran the hot knife right along the edge of a metal ruler.  I used my cutting board to make sure my lines were straight and square.

To give it a little more depth and feeling of real wood, I tried to angle the knife, kind of like you would see a routered edge on wood.  You can kind of get a glimpse of that in the picture below (the edge on the right of the picture has been angled and the edge on the left-ish side of the picture hasn’t been yet) -

There might be ridges from your cuts, and you can simple sand those down with sandpaper:

Part of what makes these awesome is the layered feature – each frame is actually two frames I made separately then glued together – -

I think the layers really take the project up a notch:

So, now you’ve got your frame, but it still looks like you cut it out of foam core.  To solve that problem, I added texture to it – again, really taking it up a notch.  I used the stucco stuff I happened to have on hand, and just brushed it on haphazardly -

Here’s what it looked like after it dried:

I think the texture also helped the paint color adhere to the board.  I watered the paint down just a little with antique glaze, but I’m not sure I could tell that I did in the end.

A couple coats of paint (some only took one coat – depended on the color) and let them dry.  That’s it!  Here’s a couple up-close:

I am a part of the Elmer’s Craft It! Crew, and so I made these for them to display in their booth at CHA.  It makes me feel half-famous – a craft of mine on display at the Craft and Hobby Association Convention – so cool!  If any one of you happens to go to CHA, visit their booth and let me know how they looked with all the other stuff.

Can you picture these frames in your house??  You could do a whole frame wall in bright colors in a playroom.  Or you could use more subtle grays with a small pop of color in a bedroom.  The possibilities are endless with these – and they’re so affordable, especially compared to buying large frames (the pink one below is pretty big – it was basically the whole foam board).  I know I’ll be making more in my future!  You can make these – give it a try!

Thanks for checking out this post from – – click on over to read it in its entirety – you’ll love it!

Thanks for Reading


    • Bonnie says

      i am wondering where you found the hot knife? i have been looking for one and purchased one used for cutting styrofoam forms, but would really like a smaller one for crafts.

  1. says

    Love these! I actually tried a similar project, but didn’t have the hot knife. I struggled to get good cuts with a regular cutting blade. I may have to try it again now!

    • says

      I love to hang empty frames on the walls, etc, so I didn’t need a back. But yes, if I were putting in a picture I would use a piece of foam board as backing and probably duct tape it on instead of glue so that I could take it on and off

  2. says

    I have been looking for a BIG frame that was kinda fancy to put around the hideously ugly whiteboard calendar in my office (NOT my home office, or that white board calendar would have been gone long ago)…. I can’t believe I didn’t think of making one like this!! I think I may even be able to make it to cover up the plastic edges on the white board? If it works as fantastically as I think it will (famous last words!), I will send you a picture. THANK YOU for the amazing idea!

  3. says

    Hi Mandy, saw this at Think Pink Sunday. FREAKING GENIUS, seriously, you are amazing. This is so cool, I can’t wait to try it and save myself a lot of money on frames too. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. says

    Hmm, mine hasn’t warped yet, but that was a concern I had – I think it helped that the frames are double-layered, so they’re less likely to bend. Also less is more when painting – I think if they get too wet that might cause warping too.

  5. says

    These look great! I’m always looking for frames for oddly shaped prints I have, and never would have thought to do this. I’m going to feature this in my weekly wrap-up on my design blog (

  6. says

    Stopping by from SITS. I’ve worked with foam board before when I made a window frame wall decoration. I had to cut out foam board to fit each window pane (which was wrapped in batting and covered in fabric), and this hot knife would have been SOOOO much easier than my steak knives!!! Haha. Great ideas and good job!! I was thinking to make things pop even more, you could even paint each frame a different color before gluing them together for dual colors. :-) Awesomeness.

  7. says

    I love using foam board for photo booth props, and I usually just use a box cutter type razor, but a hot knife? Well, duh – why didn’t I think of that?

  8. says

    Great Visual Post… I have a few nice pictures that I would like to do a frame, to try how it turns out. I will pin this because I’m really interested in doing this project.

  9. says

    These are so cool. I’m always eyeing those curvy frames at Hobby Lobby. Who knew I could make them out of foam core. i’m assuming you can find a hot knife at the craft store, right?

  10. says

    This is just what I have been looking for. I got a fab calendar for Christmas with the most amazing pictures and I needed a frame for some of them and this is it.
    Thank you so much for sharing. These frames are wonderful

  11. says

    These are so great! I’ve been looking for some bright colored frames for my bathroom and doing something like this will be perfect! Thank you!

  12. says

    How fun are these?! Love them!! And I totally never thought about using a hot knife on these. I HATE cutting these boards and we totally have one of those hot knives. I am going to have to pull it out next time I cut it.

  13. says

    Its an awesome idea for frames. i can change my frame designs whenever i want. change the frame design and color matching the interior design. cheap but good looking idea.

  14. Karina says

    OMG!! Thank you so much for this!! I was looking around for an inexpensive way to make a wall frame collage and this is PERFECT! You are truly a creative person!!

    I am DEFINITELY doing this!! :)

  15. Kay says

    this is gorgeous! i will totally want to try it. Can i ask which colors you used? thnx for an awesome tutorial!

  16. shayla says

    I have used a hot knife before, and it just melted the foam right through. How did you get it to not melt?

  17. Cassandra says

    Just want to say I believe this is the best idea for lightweight frames for kids rooms or kids art I have seen in a very long time. I have a baby nursery and 2 little girls who love making me artwork. These are going on my art wall and up in my sons nursery as the frames I want instead of something I could find and make work. Thanks for the tutorial.


  1. […] 1. Display your child’s artwork: Build a rotating gallery for your kids. The Target House on St. Jude’s campus has a long hallway filled with various white picture frames filled with cork boards. The current families submit artwork for this gallery and it changes with the seasons. I love that the frames are all different shapes, but the constant color unifies them. You could totally make your own affordable versions with this tutorial here. […]

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