Once you’ve selected the frame, it’s time to select the mat boards for the frame. The mat board refers to the coloured material that picture and print framing companies typically place between the artwork and the glass. The mat board serves to put an air space between the glass and the artwork. As a result, it ensures that the artwork and the glass do not stick to each other with the passage of time. In addition, the matting helps in the creation of a border between the frame and the artwork as well. Because of this, the matting helps in drawing the viewer’s eye towards the piece.
Selecting the right matting for your frame involves a more detailed decision. To select the best matting for your frame, you will need to:
- Select the Quality Grade: The grade of a matting denotes how well the mat materials will preserve the artwork with the passage of time. Matting manufacturers typically measure the preservation based on the acidity level i.e. pH value of the mat. The greater the acidity level in the mat, the faster the mat and the artwork will deteriorate with time. Matting supplier typically use wood pulp or cotton for making the matting. Wood pulp is naturally rich in acids. As such, the manufacturers will treat it with chemicals for removing its acidity. In contrast, cotton is naturally acid fee. As a result, it offers the best quality preservation. But, cotton mats will cost twice (or even thrice) as much as mats made of wood pulp. The three most popular grades of matting comprise:
oDecorative Grade: Made with wood pulp, this comes coated with special chemicals for slowing the damage that acidity will cause. It offers minimal levels of protection. In addition, it can usually last for about five to seven years. It is perfect for replaceable items such as photos.
oSelect Grade: Termed the workhorse of the picture and acrylic framing industry, this offers better levels of conservation. Made of acidic wood pulp, this is ideal for framing items such as reprints and limited editions. In many cases, manufacturers treat this with chemicals for reducing acidity levels, when the pulp is still in liquid form.
oRagmat Grade: Made entirely of cotton, this matting is naturally acid-free. While this matting is expensive, it will offer high levels of preservation too.
- Select the Number of Mats: Some frames do not use any matting, while others use several layers of matting. Many frames typically feature single mats. These provide some space between the artwork and the glass. As mentioned earlier, the absence of any matting could make the artwork touch the glass. This could make the artwork stick to the glass when the moisture levels or temperature changes. Sometimes Perspex framing companies create a visual border by layering different coloured mats in the frame. For this, they typically place one mat over the other. It is worth highlighting that the bottom-most layer will be slightly larger than the topmost layer for creating a small border.
- Select the Colour: These days, you’ll be able to find mats in all kinds of colours. Pick the colour that seems the best to you. In many cases, professional framers typically use off-white colours as boarders. The use of these neutral colours ensures that the matting remains muted. As such, people will focus more on the artwork than on the matting.