The Importance of Matboard

 “Tell me about matboard…do I need it…what does it do except make the frame bigger?”

The main purpose of a matboard is to protect and enhance the piece is surrounds.  Protect and preserve is the motto I live by in the picture framing world.  Mat board should protect the artwork, keep it away from touching the glass, and provide some breathing room between the art and the frame.  If you do not use a matboard then I recommend using “spacers” between the image and the glass.

There are several important factors to keep in mind when choosing a mat(s).

Acid free/archival – An acid free mat (ph value of 7) will not damage your art over time.  It is essential that the matboard and mounting board are both acid free.

Color – Using any color that is also in the artwork is sure to work.  However by using neutral colors you can use your framed artwork in any room.  Some mat come with a black core.  When you cut the mat the bevel will be black.  This gives you two colors for the price of one.  It also separates your mat color from the image.  If you want a multiple mat but are unsure about which colors to use then try using the same color for each mat.  I once framed a postage stamp where I used 7 layers of mat, all the same color, it really drew your eye to the stamp…it was a striking.

Size – This is a matter if personal preference.  I like a mat that is at least 3” wide and having a little bottom depth (3 1/2”).  The weighted bottom will give the illusion that the opening is in the center.

Multiple mats – double, triple or more mats is also a personal choice but the more mats you use the more the mat tends to take your eye away from the art. The mats beneath the top mat typically have a reveal of ¼”.  If you want your art to have more depth then multiple mats is one way to do it.

Stay Simple – Stay Elegant.

Don’t let the mat be more important than what you are framing.  If someone looks at your art and notices the framing first, then your framer has not done their job.  Remember – what you are framing is what you want someone to see not the framing treatment.  A good framing treatment protects and preserves the piece but it does not draw attention to itself.  It blends in with the art and the surrounding décor.




Richard and Susan Koechlein

Custom Framing Made Simple


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