Best Practices for Matting Prints

There is a lot of emphasis on choosing a frame for your art and photo prints but sometimes overlooked is the importance of matting.  Not only does the mat help highlight the artwork, it also acts as protection so the glass or acrylic does not come in direct contact with the print.

Ever since we added our full service in-house framing other questions pertaining to matting have also arisen. The top question is if we offer custom mats. The other questions are usually related to the size of the mat, appearance or the archival properties of the mat. Other times it might have something to do with using a mismatched print with a larger frame. Below I talk about what some of these issues mean.

Do you offer custom cut mats?

That is a BIG YES! You can actually visit our framing section where we have custom mat options. which can be ordered online.  You select both the outer width and height and the window size and we cut them custom to order.  It makes it extremely easy to have mats tailored to the size you prints that you will not find at an art supply store. At FinerWorks you can also order the mats as you  order prints on any of our papers. In those cases it is even easier because all you have to do is select the outer size of the matting.

Print Size vs Mat Size

If you are going to mat your prints, I always recommend choosing to have your print made with either the ½ inch or 1 inch border. As an example if you have a print which is an 8×10 and the mat window is sized for an 8×10, that extra border going around the 8×10 image will give the cut sheet ample size to secure to the back of the matting.

We had a customer frustrated that none of the mats at her local art supply store had a mat with an exact 8×10 window. She was afraid that some of her artwork would be cut off, most notably the signature would be only partially visible. This problem was because unless you are custom cutting your mats yourself any mat will have a window slightly smaller than the printed artwork. Again using that 8×10 example, the window will likely measure ⅛ to ¼ smaller. Imagine if you tried to mat a 8×10 borderless print and the window was also 8×10.  You would have the problem of the print wanting to fall through the opening or at least not very will nested within the mat window.

There might be instances in which you actually choose a mat with a larger opening than the print’s total sheet size. In this type of display the print will appear to float between the mat window edges. I have seen this seems to be popular in instances in which a print has a deckled or torn edge (which we now offer).  On a side note about floating prints, if you opt to not have a mat, make sure you have some sort of spacer so the glass does not come in direct contact with the print. Our framing department actually uses these spacers for framed prints that do not have a mat. These are basically  plastic strips that are inserted just behind the lip of the frame which gives the needed space.

As is the case with most things related to decor, there are trends in matting. One framing supply company I know indicates on their website that the now days people seem to opt for wider mats meaning the space between thin mat window and the edge is greater compared to a couple decades ago in which people opted for thinner margin on the matting. I see this with photography as well. Right now it seems a more favorable display for fine art photography is a minimal frame with a wide mat. This is my own personal favorite way to display photos since it gives a nice contemporary look. One other advantage with the larger mat style is it can ultimately give a smaller print a more expansive presence on the wall.

Mat Color

When it comes to choosing a mat color, there seems to be some consensus among professionals I have spoken to that what is most important is the color does not draw your attention away from the artwork itself. I would also add that today there is a trend for people to choose bolder colors when painting their walls. If you have framed and/or matted prints on display somewhere for sale, be aware that any color other than white might play a role in your buyer’s decision on the purchase of that print or not. I say other than white because white tends to be both a safer and neutral color and less likely to clash with the wall.

Colorful mats are okay but don’t let them detract from the artwork or clash with the wall color.

Mat Materials and Archivability

Choose a mat which is not going to harm the print over time. There are 3 primary different types of mat materials: paper, alpha-cellulose, and rag.  Paper mats are going to be your cheapest in quality and price. They are simply made from paper pulp. You want to stay away from the paper mat since overtime the acidity levels in these can harm the artwork in side. These are also typically the same mats found in cheap ready made frame kits you will see that the art and craft superstore or Walmart. The alpha-cellulose, made from wood pulp is engineered to be acid free while the rag mat is made of cotton which is naturally acid free. Incidentally most of our papers we print on are also either alpha-cellulose or cotton which makes the prints more archival. Also, all our mats are of the alpha-cellulose variety, more specifically the brand is called Artique Conservation Matboard.

Mismatched to Frame Size

At times you may find yourself in the need to mat an odd size print which is not exactly ideally suited for a frame you might have lying around. For instance, you might have a square 12×12 print and only have a 16×20 frame. You will likely need to have the mat custom cut so the outer dimensions matches the insert of the frame. Another popular choice is to bottom-weight the mat which means the bottom mat side is larger. I have seen some artists will further use that bottom margin to cut out an additional widow which might display the artworks title and the artist’s name.

Digital Mats

One other alternative to matting, yet which will give your artwork a matted look is to create a digital mat. This will give you the ultimate control in both color and the appearance of texture. Just the other day a photographer I know had us print up some photos for a competition he was entering them in. They all had a type of digital mat effect which enhanced the artwork considerably. When framed the print would be able to stand on it’s own without a physical mat. I seen this done quite often and have even seen some artists will add drop shadows and strategic bevels in the inner window edge to trick the eye even more into thinking a real mat is being used. Not until you get within inches of the print can you tell that it is not a real mat. When framing, the only thing I would recommend in this situation is to make sure you have some spacers between the print and the glass so it is not in direct contact if possible. Digital mats can be created with an image editing program like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.<


Digital Mat Effect
Photography by Ross Benton of Studio Benton

Close Up of Mat
Photography by Ross Benton of Studio Benton

 

Lisa Langell of Langell Photography shows you how to create an interesting digital mat in Photoshop. In it she actually uses part of the original image as part of the mat.

Do it Yourself Hinge Mat

Matting your prints is not difficult either. And it does not have to be expensive even if you need to cut out the mat window yourself. This is easily done with an exacto knife and a straight edge. Uncut matboards are readily available in different colors both online and offline at various art supply stores. Once your have cut your mat and the window opening its even easier to mat them with something called a “hinged mat”. Hinged mats are mats in which one side is has the window while the back side is solid. Hinged mats make an excellent way to display prints you might be offering for sale but don’t want to place in a frame. The following video illustrates how to create a hinged mat to display your prints.

Top Questions

Artists and photographers first began using FinerWorks in 1999 however, we official coined our company name as FinerWorks in 2003. We began with making prints exclusively on canvas but soon added fine art papers. Our web technology is setup so people at all levels can order fine art prints of their work on the same papers and canvas placed in galleries, hotels and homes of collectors.

 

 

Order HD Face Mounted Acrylic Prints

Printed on high quality photo paper and face mounted to 1/4″ acrylic with polished edges. Choose between satin luster or metallic photo paper. Included is easy to install hanging hardware in the form of a French cleat.

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Categories: About Us, Top Questions

Generally, unless professionally calibrated, computer monitors are going to be very bright. Tablets and mobile devices display images with elevated brightness and contrast. These settings mislead people into believing their images are brighter than they usually are. Read more

Order HD Face Mounted Acrylic Prints

Printed on high quality photo paper and face mounted to 1/4″ acrylic with polished edges. Choose between satin luster or metallic photo paper. Included is easy to install hanging hardware in the form of a French cleat.

Learn more…

Please contact us within 30 days of placing your order if you are unhappy with your print. Our first goal will be to help you get a satisfactory replacement. If that is not an option, we offer a 30 day money back guarantee.


One of the largest ranges of paper selections, while using the highest level of archival print technology allowing superior detail and color, you can create custom giclee prints of your artwork and photos.
 

Giclee Printing at FinerWorks

One of the largest ranges of paper selections, while using the highest level of archival print technology allowing superior detail and color, you can create custom giclee prints of your artwork and photos.

Learn more…

If you are unable to locate a recent order in your order history, it is likely you may not have been logged into your accounbt prior to placing your order. To fix this, simply contact us and we will be happy to add the unassigned order to your account for you.


One of the largest ranges of paper selections, while using the highest level of archival print technology allowing superior detail and color, you can create custom giclee prints of your artwork and photos.
 

Giclee Printing at FinerWorks

One of the largest ranges of paper selections, while using the highest level of archival print technology allowing superior detail and color, you can create custom giclee prints of your artwork and photos.

Learn more…

Virtual Inventory gives you the ability to store “virtual” prints. Create and store as many prints as you wish, and when you are ready for us to print one, its only a matter of checking out.  Use this quick video tutorial for a walk through the entire process.

Canvas Prints

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Printed using some of the highest archival standards in the industry, your photos or artwork will last for decades to come.

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FinerWorks offers free drop shipping services to all customers. It can be selected at checkout or it is selected automatically if you have a business registered within your account and have uploaded a logo.


One of the largest ranges of paper selections, while using the highest level of archival print technology allowing superior detail and color, you can create custom giclee prints of your artwork and photos.
 

Giclee Printing at FinerWorks

One of the largest ranges of paper selections, while using the highest level of archival print technology allowing superior detail and color, you can create custom giclee prints of your artwork and photos.

Learn more…

We do. In fact, because our frames are made-to-order, we do not price our custom sizes any differently than those considered to be considered a more standard or common size.

Metal Prints

Order HD Chromaluxe® Metal Prints

Print your artwork or photography as custom-size metal prints. Using the dye-sublimation process, your image is fused to the surface of rigid aluminum panels. These provide a modern look when decorating your home or office. Choose from multiple metal surface options. Order it framed, with a float wall mounting or even with a tabletop easel back.

Learn more…

Categories: Frame, Top Questions

All framing is cut and joined at the framing center located in San Antonio, Texas. print and framing facility. This is done by a team of experienced members of FinerWorks framing department.

Order HD Face Mounted Acrylic Prints

Printed on high quality photo paper and face mounted to 1/4″ acrylic with polished edges. Choose between satin luster or metallic photo paper. Included is easy to install hanging hardware in the form of a French cleat.

Learn more…

Categories: Frame, Top Questions

If you have a registered account with FinerWorks there is an area within your account where you can save your business information, such as the company name, department or contact person and address. As long as you have added your business, we will use this information as the sender in place of your order’s billing information.

Metal Prints

Order HD Chromaluxe® Metal Prints

Print your artwork or photography as custom-size metal prints. Using the dye-sublimation process, your image is fused to the surface of rigid aluminum panels. These provide a modern look when decorating your home or office. Choose from multiple metal surface options. Order it framed, with a float wall mounting or even with a tabletop easel back.

Learn more…

Your account offers you the ability to store a limited number of images based upon your account type. You can categorize these in various custom galleries you setup. After logging in, go to the “My Images” link which will take you to a batch uploading tool. Select the image files you want to upload and they will be uploaded to your account. You can order prints from these images anytime you want. This saves a lot of time, especially if you have large image files. These uploads will be stored securely and are inaccessible to the public. Whenever you place an order for a print from one of these images, a copy of your high resolution image will be forwarded to our production department for printing.

Metal Prints

Order HD Chromaluxe® Metal Prints

Print your artwork or photography as custom-size metal prints. Using the dye-sublimation process, your image is fused to the surface of rigid aluminum panels. These provide a modern look when decorating your home or office. Choose from multiple metal surface options. Order it framed, with a float wall mounting or even with a tabletop easel back.

Learn more…

Order HD Face Mounted Acrylic Prints

Printed on high quality photo paper and face mounted to 1/4″ acrylic with polished edges. Choose between satin luster or metallic photo paper. Included is easy to install hanging hardware in the form of a French cleat.

Learn more…


One Reply to “Best Practices for Matting Prints”

  1. It’s interesting to know that matting takes a lot of work to get right. I will keep that in mind when getting acrylic photo printing services someday. Getting that print matted will help a lot in preparing it to be displayed.

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