Have you ever been in the situation where you are ready to frame a photograph or another type of artwork and know you need to choose a mat board, but after looking at the options available you were instantly overwhelmed? Have you ever found that the many different textures, colors, materials, and thicknesses left you feeling as though your head was spinning?
The vast array of matting choices is one of the wonders of the task, as well as one of the most common struggles, too. But with a few step-by-step tips to take the project incrementally, you’ll quickly discover that the “right” mat will always find its way into your next framing project.
There are three primary factors that you need to consider as you get started in choosing a mat board for your framing project. These are your purpose, your style, and your project budget. This helps to narrow down the rest of the choices to a much more manageable level.
Start by asking yourself about the purpose of the mat board in your project. Is it to help to preserve a valuable piece over the long term? If so, a specialty or archival mat for that purpose will be necessary. However, if all you require is a professional quality option that is temporary and economical, then a more general purpose mat will be all you need.
Next, look into the style that you will require. This will also involve the depth of the piece that you will be framing. By thinking about these two factors, you will narrow down your options even more. Here, you will have three types of factors to consider. The first is the thickness of the mat, also known as the ply, and the next factor is the core color, which is the color of the inside mat which is exposed after it is cut. The third is the cut itself, which is called the bevel.
The thinnest option is a 4-ply board that measures 1/16˝. This is appropriate for single, double, or triple matting styles, depending on the frame’s depth. This thickness is the most commonly used and are available in a tremendous range of different options.
The next step up is the 6-ply board that is 3/32˝. These have a more solid appearance and wider boarders. In this thickness, the bevel can become an important element of the design.
For a very special framing treatment and a mat that looks more luxurious, an 8-ply extra thick mat that is 1/8˝ deep may be appropriate. These look especially attractive when framing larger pieces that require the strength and appearance of a bolder structure.
Once this decision has been made, a color and finish can be chosen. Here, the best step for you to take is to order a few samples so that you can compare several options against the piece that you’ll be framing. That way, you will know just what to expect from your final choice and will require much less use of the imagination.
Last, but not least, if you need help making a decision, seek the help and guidance of staff where you are purchasing your custom framing accessories and services. Everyone’s style and taste is different, but there are some universally appealing techniques that a trained assistant may be able to guide you with, even on your own DIY framing project.
About the Author: Laura Jajko is VP of Marketing at AmericanFrame.com, the nation’s leading online source for custom frames, mat board, archival digital printing services and picture framing supplies. For inspiring picture framing and design ideas, visit her framing blog, A Good Frame of Mind, and join her on Twitter and Google+.