Materials & Equipment for Picture Framing and Wall Décor Professionals

Glossary of Terms

We use moulding terminology across this website. Whilst the terminology is widely known throughout the framing industry, we appreciate some terms may be unknown to some of our customers. To help we've listed our commonly used terms and their definitions below.


Trafila - Closes the wood grain by applying fine layers of a thickened lacquer base, for a smooth surface ready to be finished with lacquer or foil. The moulding passes through the trafila template, forcing the lacquer into the grain. Typical of mouldings made in the Tuscany region of Italy. Trafila finishes cut well on a Morso because the fine layers do not chip.

Gesso – Also known as compo or clay. Forms a smooth surface over wood grain using a combination paint mixed with chalk and pigments, ready to finishing. Fine layers of gesso are used by manufacturers in the Naples area of Italy as a base for gilded and foiled mouldings. In the Far East, thicker layers of gesso are often used as a base for all finishes. Mouldings with thicker layers of gesso tend to cut better on a saw.

Patina - A generic term used to refer to a wide range of finishes added to the surface of a moulding. This can include brushing on finely ground pigment to give an aged effect and applying a pale wash or a wax over a base colour.

Stain - Adds a colour while leaving the wood grain visible. The grain may be open or closed.

Lacquer - Seals and protects the finish, and can add a matt, satin or gloss finish.

Paint - Over a trafila base give a smooth, opaque finish, while on open grain it is often applied in layers to given different effects.

Ayous - Timber of choice for most Italian and Spanish moulding manufacturers. Pale in colour with close, indistinct grain, it is economical and takes base finishes and colour well. It is easy to cut and join. Triplochiton scleroxylon is a tropical tree native to West Africa; depending on where it is grown, it is also known as Obeche, Wawa, Samba and Abachi.

Finger Jointed Pine - Pine is cut into shorter lengths to remove knots. Interlocking ‘fingers’ at each end are routed out and glued together. This gives base timber for moulding that is knot free, straight and economical. Finger Jointed Pine will become more popular as a base timber due its availability, price and sustainability.

FSC - Forest Stewardship Council TM is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organisation established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests. See the statement on p.2 to read about how we work with FSC.

Foil - Hot foil stamping is a process developed in the 1930s as a substitute for traditional gilding, although foils are now available with many other effects including wood grain. The decoration is printed by on a polyester film treated with a release agent and a protective varnish. The decoration can be subsequently metalized and finally the thermo-adhesive is applied. Foil is applied using heated rollers to a moulding previously finished with trafila or gesso. Foils can be applied in combination or to one part of the moulding only, such as the sight edge.

Leaf –Very thin gold or silver coloured metal applied onto a smooth gesso base, either mechanically or by hand. It is usually either finished with a patina or distressed to show the base, and then lacquered.

Veneer - Very thin slices of wood, applied to a base timber. Besides giving the effect of an expensive wood at a much lower cost, veneers also offer the look of a hard wood such as Oak, but on an easy to work base timber, such as Pine.

Embossing - Wood pulp, known as ‘pasta’ is applied to the base timber, and then embossed while soft with a patterned wheel.

Sight Edge - The inner edge of a moulding, sometimes highlighted with a gold or silver foil.

Rebate - Mouldings have a lip to hold the glass and image package in place. From the lip to the base is known as the rebate. Some mouldings are made with a deep rebate to accommodate spacers when framing objects.

L Style - A moulding designed to frame a stretched canvas or panel, as opposed to a traditional glass and image package. The canvas sits inside the ‘L’ rather than underneath the lip of the rebate.

Slips - Narrow, shallow ‘mini mouldings’, used either in combination with the moulding or underneath a mount. Aesthetically, they add a space between the frame or mount and the image, while practically they create a space between the image and the glass.

Spacer - A strip of wood that fits inside the rebate, under the glass, to create space to accommodate an object, textile or thicker artwork.