How to Build a DIY Triptych Frame for Art Panels

Hey, my name is Mindi, and I blog over at MyLove2Create, I am super happy to be here today!

I love repurposing and using free things to do a lot of my projects.  You may remember when I updated a glass top coffee table with a pallet in July…well today I am using up some more of my free wood for a super fun and easy project.  A DIY Triptych Frame.

Create a large-scale and high-impact art piece for your home by building this inexpensive DIY triptych frame, featuring 3 coordinating or split art panels.

I have always loved Triptych art, not that I knew what it was called…I had to look it up. 🙂

Triptych: Pronounced Trip-tick, it is defined as: a picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together side by side and used as an altarpiece, or, a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.

The idea of making a triptych frame came when I was contemplating a huge blank wall in my bedroom.  It needed to be filled with something large.  Since I am so indecisive I decided I wanted it to be something I could change up easily…

How to Build a Triptych Frame for Art Panels

cutting headboard, MyLove2Create

 I remembered that I had some 1/2″ thick beadboard panels that I had gotten for free on craig’s list, and they were collecting dust in my garage.  I measured about how big I wanted my frame to be and cut off the end of the beadboard with my circular saw.  To frame it out I really wanted to use some 1×2’s but I didn’t have any, so I used the next best thing, more free scrap wood (off of craig’s list…yes I am super cheap!)  The wood I used was about 1/2” thick by 1” wide, when I finished the project and added my art, I was glad I had used the smaller wood on the trim, 1×2’s would have made it harder to get the art panels in and out of the frame.

attaching frame to headboard, MyLove2Create

You may have noticed I was cutting wood in the dark…a fun Friday night activity…when I have an idea I like to jump on it if I have the time, even if it is 9:00 pm.  🙂  After cutting I came in and attached my frame to the beadboard, with glue and finish nails.  I added the long sides which were the same length as the board, and then the ends.  You can see I had a few rogue nails!  Oops, nothing a little bending back and forth won’t solve, the nail will eventually break off.  Then I called it a night.

chipboard, MyLove2Create

I didn’t end up getting back to this project for a while, but when I did, I set to work looking in my stash for something to become my photo/art boards.  I have had this bundle off chipboards for a while and realized they would work perfectly.

measuring and marking for picture holders, MyLove2Create

I cut three of them to a size that looked good on the frame…I didn’t really measure, just eyeballed it (dimensions below).  Then found some scraps that would work for my picture holders.  On the left you can see I was trying out the scraps to see if they would work.  The white scraps were left over from a crib I turned into a dog crate.  They were perfect because they were wider than the other scrap wood which would give me a place to slide my photo boards in and out.

On the right you can see I am marking on the photo board where I needed to line up the holders.  I cut them to a random width that looked good on the board…but in hindsight I should have made them a little shorter, so the boards could slide in and out a little easier.

attaching photo holders, MyLove2Create

To attach the picture holders I needed to make sure the photo boards would be centered, and since I am lazy and prefer not to measure, if I can help it, I grabbed some scrap 1×4 boards to do the work for me.

I started on the ends and used a 1×4 to be my spacers (top left).  I did have to trim a hair off of my photo boards to ensure all three 1×4’s fit, since I hadn’t thought of this measuring technique beforehand.  Once they fit, I removed the bottom 1×4, and leaving the other spacers in place, I glued my smaller holder down, and then added the white holder on top.  Then I nailed them to the beadboard at the same time.  I repeated this for all of my picture holders.

*Note, you need to leave about an 1/8th of an inch wiggle room between the photo board and the picture holder, on the top and bottom, so that you have enough space to freely move the photo boards in and out of the frame.

figuring out where to put photo holders, MyLove2Create

On the left is another in progress shot of me attaching the picture holders and using the 1×4’s as spacers.  On the right you can see them all done!Triptych Frame, front dimensions

Here are the measurements of my triptych frame so you can create your own.  The space between the art is 3/4 inch…it is a little hard to read.Triptych Frame, photo holder dimensions

Hopefully this will help as well. 🙂  It is hard to see the widths on a few.  The blue photo boards are 1/4 inch thick as well as the front white picture holders.  The grey, back, picture holders are 1/2 inch thick.


cleaning headboard, MyLove2CreateSince my beadboard was super dusty I used an old cleaning toothbrush to clean out the grooves, it worked like a charm, now it was ready for paint.

painted frame, MyLove2Create

 I used my paint sprayer to give it a few coats of white paint, and I also decided to paint the photo boards at the same time.

abstract art attempt, MyLove2Create

 I thought I would try my hand at some abstract art so I put all three boards together to paint them as one image.  I was planning on doing a seascape or something…when at the last minute I found a cool piece online, and I said to myself, “I can totally do that!”  Ha ha ha.  The result was not quite like I planned, but it was fun to pretend.  Obviously I am NOT an artist, and could never master the beauty of the original piece…

lightening up the black with grey, MyLove2Create

 I ended up with something that had similar colors to the original and a huge black mass in the middle.  In a last minute attempt to fix it I brushed on some grey over the black.  It didn’t help.  Next time I think I will try the sea scape…
triptych frame with abstract art

When I put it in the frame I liked it a little better, the colors are fun at least. 🙂 Now if you are an artist or are better at pretending than me, can you see how fun this would be?  You could paint anything you want!  Or if you don’t even want to go with painting at all, you could put family photos on the boards or try an engineering print like I did on the other side of my boards…

cutting edges of engineer print, MyLove2Create

I found a free image (making sure it had no royalties) online and ordered it as an engineering print at Staples.  I really am an indecisive person and it was torture deciding on what image to use.  I decided that I would just pick something cool that I love, like horses, and if I wanted to change it up later it would be easy…

I got the largest print they had, and it was too big, of course.  The first time I had ordered the middle size and it was too small, I will probably be doing a project with that print in the future.  Anyway, I knew this print would be too big, but I didn’t realize the horse would be THAT big, so I had to cut him down…it adds character right?!

To cut it to size I pushed all three boards together and set the print on top.  Then I felt the edges of the board under my print and placed my ruler on the very end of the board and cut the paper with and exacto knife.  It was super easy and fast, and my print was the same size as the three boards.  I love it when that happens. 🙂

cutting engineer print into three pieces, MyLove2Create

To cut the print into the three sections I simple lined up the ruler to where the boards met, looking on the sides to make sure it was perfect, and cut the print.  With two cuts I was done!

spray adhesive for attaching engineer print to board, MyLove2Create

I then took the board and print outside and used adhesive spray to do a light coat on the board and the back of the print.  After waiting a minute (following the directions on the can) I carefully lined the top of the print to the top of the board, and used my hand to smooth it all the way down.

engineer image attached to wood, MyLove2Create

Ta da!  It worked great!  I was a little off on the front hoof…but I wasn’t worried, I embrace the imperfection!  🙂  Besides I knew it would not be noticeable in the frame…
Featured image oustide, MyLove2Create
 And it wasn’t.  I think stallions look good with their upper and lower extremities cut off…don’t you?  😉

side close up of triple framed horse, MyLove2Create

I do love the look of the print in the triptych frame, and already have plans to change it up, sometime in the future, when I can decide on something perfect.   At my staples this print was around $8.  Not bad for a photo this size, and the quality was pretty good considering they said it was not suitable for photos.  The medium sized engineering print was less than $4!

Triptych frame in room, MyLove2Create

When my husband saw it he said I should have done a print of the Bronco’s stadium.  DUH!  Why didn’t I think of that?  Riiiight….that will never happen.  I mean, I like the Broncos, but not in my bedroom.  🙂  You can also see in this shot my dog crate that I mentioned above, and my Chippy Decor Box, that I made a million years ago, but still love.

Create a large-scale and high-impact art piece for your home by building this inexpensive DIY triptych frame, featuring 3 coordinating or split art panels.

So what do you think?  Do you have a wall that needs a large statement piece?

My Pottery Barn Knock Off Clock is one of my favorite projects for a big blank wall, I am thinking this Triptych Frame comes in a close second, it can be made to fit any space and the pictures/art are so easy to change up, plus they are reversible.  I mean if I am sick of this horse, I have my cool abstract art on the other side…sa-weett!

I also think it would be fun to add seasonal photos when the desire arises.  Instead of using chipboard or plywood for the photo boards I could use foam core, to make the changes easy and cheap!  Yay for endless possibilities!

I hope you enjoyed this project!


45 Ways to Display Photos and Art Prints - for when you're wondering what to do with printed photos and all those free printables!

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I have a great love to DIY, repurpose, and create! I am constantly seeking to make things more useful, effective, and beautiful in my home one project at a time. My projects are done in tutorial form so I can inspire others to create too!
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  1. Mindi,

    I love your latest project. I’ve never heard of that kind of artwork, but your original (copy) looked great to me, but I do love the horse print!

    as always, great tutorial!
    ps pinning!

  2. Thanks Mindi,
    Loved your work.
    It inspires me to have a go myself, I am 80 years old/young, depends on the weather here in Ireland , and a bit of an artist. Seems to me this would be a fun project .
    Keep smiling


    1. Trevor, you don’t know how happy your comment made me smile! Thank you so much for making my day, and I hope you do give it a go, I am sure whatever you create will be amazing! I wish I was an artist! 🙂 Hugs, and wishing you the very best of weather in Ireland!