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The Role Of Matting In Framing

May 29, 2023

The Role Of Matting In Framing

Have you recently splurged on a glorious new art piece for your living room? Or are you seeking inspiration for how to create the perfect frame wall for family photos? No matter what you are looking to hang on your walls, you are in the right place. Portfolio Picture Framers are experts at all things custom framing.

Multiple components make custom picture frames and professionally  framed artwork. When put together by a professional framer, these components work together to protect and aesthetically display your art piece. Usually, a frame is made up of a frame mould (also known as a frame profile), a mat board, glazing, the artwork itself, mounting boards, mounting hardware and hanging hardware. Sometimes, a spacer may be required to create a small gap for aesthetic purposes. In this article, we will jump into matting and the importance of mat boards for custom framing.

What is the role of matting in custom picture framing?

Matting plays a very important role in custom picture framing for aesthetic purposes and to help conserve your piece. Matting refers to using a border, typically made from acid-free paper or board, which surrounds your art piece, separating it from the frame and glazing. Acid-free paper is essential; it helps to protect and preserve artworks. Acid-free refers to paper that has a natural or alkaline pH, ensuring that it doesn't damage your art pieces.

Picture mats can be different colours; it's possible to select a white matboard or black matboard, or a different shade depending on the style of frame and artwork you have selected. Overall, matting is an important aspect of custom framing, helping to conserve your piece and improve the visual appeal of the framing.

Benefits of using mat board in picture framing

picture frame matting

Aesthetic appeal

Utilising matting helps to enhance the appearance of your framed piece. It does this by creating a visual buffer between the art and the frame, drawing the viewer's eyes towards the artwork. The colour of your matting can be selected to complement the colours and style of your art piece, creating a more cohesive and aesthetic finish.


Matting helps to protect the artwork from any potential damage that could occur if it were to come into contact with the frame of glazing. The mat works by preventing the artwork from touching the glass or glazing; this stops any condensation and subsequent damage that could otherwise occur. Finally, the matting, whether single mat or double mat, creates space for air circulation, minimising the risk of mould occurring.


A mat provides your artwork with additional support, which is especially important for delicate or fragile pieces. This extra support helps to prevent sagging, creasing or other damage that could occur from an unsupported piece over time.

Reduces glare

A carefully selected mat helps to reduce flare and reflection on the artwork's surface; this helps viewers to be able to focus on the artwork without the distraction of unnecessary glare.

What are the different types of mat boards? And How to choose the right mat for your frame.

Choosing the right mat and frame for your art piece is important as it helps your frame to have a cohesive and professional finish. However, navigating the world of mat boards and how to choose the right one can be a little confusing, so let's help simplify your options by explaining the different types.

Paper mat board

Paper mat board is an affordable option; it is made from wood pulp and is recommended for temporary framing or for displaying pieces that aren't valuable to you. Because this matting option is not acid-free, it can cause yellowing or damage over time.

Acid-free mat board

Acid-free mat board, also referred to as conservation mat board or archival mat board, is a type of board also made from wood pulp. However, it has been purified and treated to remove acids, ensuring better protection for your artwork. This mat board is suitable for framing more valuable pieces.

Buffered mat board

A buffered mat board is another acid-free option, containing an alkaline reserve that helps neutralise acids that may develop over time. A buffered mat board is recommended for framing materials that are made from wood pulp, for example, prints or posters. A buffered mat board shouldn't be used for photographs, textiles or any pieces containing blue pigments.

Cotton rag mat board

A cotton rag mat board is made from 100% cotton. This option is the highest quality mat board on the market, providing unparalleled protection for valuable and delicate pieces of art. The cotton rag is naturally acid-free, lignin-free and resistant to the effects of ageing. Cotton rag mat board is often used for museum-quality framing and preserving fine art.

Suede mat board

The suede mat board provides a unique textural appeal. This fabric option can be used for framing a wide range of artwork in standard sizes and is available in acid-free and conservation-grade options.

Black-core or coloured-core mat board

The black-core or coloured-core mat boards have a solid core colour, which is revealed when a bevelled edge is cut into the mat. This coloured core helps to create an interesting visual effect, either coordinating with the artwork or creating a contrasting accent.

Computer mat cutting

At Portfolio Picture Framers, we have a state-of-the-art  computerised mat cutter that enables us to create intricate designs, drawings, and embossments on your picture or memorabilia mat. Additionally, we can replicate your business or team logo (in jpg format) and incorporate it onto your mat alongside your framed items. However, the possibility of cutting your logo into the mat is subject to the complexity of its design.

Our top tips for choosing the right mat and frame for different types of artwork

matting for picture frames

  • Consider the style of your artwork. For example, we recommend keeping it clean with a white and simple mat for modern artwork. Different styles of art will suit different frames and mats.
  • You can coordinate your frame and matting for a sophisticated and cohesive look or alternatively, you can choose to contrast them for a bolder effect.
  • Consider the size of your artwork. When choosing both a frame and matting, it's essential to consider the size of your artwork and how much matting will be visible.
  • Ask an expert: You don't have to do it alone! It can be difficult to choose the right mat and frame for your artwork; with Portfolio Picture Framers, you don't have to — take the guesswork out of the framing process and let us help you choose the right frame mats for your piece.

The importance of colour and texture in matting

The texture and colour chosen for your mat will make a big difference in the visual appeal of your artwork. It's important that the colour and texture of your matting complement your artwork rather than clashing with it. Choosing a neutral option is a good idea for most pieces; however, going for a coloured option can add depth to certain pieces. The texture is also important in drawing the viewer into your piece; texture matting can help to create depth and dimensionality to your piece.

Get in touch with Portfolio Picture Framers today

If you have questions regarding the right picture mats for your frame, Portfolio Picture Framers can help. With years in the industry, we can use our expertise to help our customers make the right choices for their framing needs, resulting in quality frames that will last you well into the future.

Portfolio Picture Framers can frame photos, artwork, mirrors, memorabilia, and so much more! We can help you to create bespoke picture frames that complement and enhance your art piece. Find the frame and matting you have been searching for by  connecting with us today.

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