Matboard 101 All You Need to Know When Selecting the Right Picture Matboard Supplier


Matboard’s quality is determined by its thickness, acidity, and core as well as color (surface/core) and finish. This primer will explain how different characteristics impact the quality of the matboard. When choosing a matboard supplier, be sure to consider all these aspects.


Matboard is usually measured in ply. This measurement is not standardized like inches and can be misleading. There are three types of mats: 4 plies, 6 or 8 plies. However, not all ply are created equal. There are four-ply mats that measure 0.040 inches and four-ply rugs that measure 0.052 inches. To achieve the same effect, double or triple four-ply mats can be used in lieu of 8 ply mats.

The quality and price of photo mats are usually higher if they are thicker. A thicker matboard has the following advantages:

Depth: A more professional look is achieved by adding depth to the artwork.
Sturdiness: A very thin matboard can bend or warp, especially if it is more extensive.


How long a matboard will last depends on how acidic it is. Only cotton-fiber-based matboards are genuinely acid-free. These are for museum art that must be preserved for hundreds of decades. Wood-pulp paper mats are often considered acid-free because they last about 100 years. These are the Conservation/Archival brand of matboards and are sold by most frame shops. The more common paper mat, also known as Decorative, is not acid-free but can still last for many years.

Important to remember that both the core and surface of the matboard are affected by acidity. Substances that are white or black have acid-free guts. However, they may not be acid-free surfaces. This means that while the core will retain its colors, the biting surface can cause damage to the artwork. The body and texture of cream/standard cores may not be acid-free.

Two central problems are associated with acidity:

The mat can become discolored over time, especially if it is exposed to a lot of light. It usually takes several decades.
Art is damaged by acidic papers: Over time, a skill that has been exposed to acidic forms will turn brown or discolored. It usually takes several decades.
Conservation mats are also known as acid-free, while decorative rugs have an acid-free surface.


The matboard’s core is the material it is made from. After a 45 degree cut, it is exposed by the bevel cut. It serves as a secondary border and is usually 1/8 inch in diameter. Although the cream core is the most common, retailers use it because it’s the least expensive. However, white core and black core offer a professional finish.

There are three color options for Core:

Standard/Cream core: This is a cheap option that can be found in most retail stores because of its low price. However, it will yellow and fade over time due to prolonged exposure to sunlight. It can also become fragile.
White Core: This white core is true bright white. It will keep its color for many years because it is not acidic. It brings out the beauty in your artwork more than the cream core.
Black Core: This core is genuinely black and will keep its color for many years because it is not acidic. It brings out the beauty in your artwork more than the cream core. This is especially useful for black and white photos.


The bevel, cut precision, and cleanliness of your mat is the most critical aspects.
A 45-degree bevel cut is more appealing than a straight cut and is generally standard. To save money, make sure you clarify the bevel cut. A dull blade can also cause a poor bevel cut, which will severely reduce the quality of your photo.

Accuracy in Cutting: There are many cuts that go into a finished matboard.

Accuracy in Opening/Outer Size: Most mat cutters have a tolerance of 1/16″. It is essential to obtain the exact size you need so it fits the frame.

Overcut Corners: It’s essential to pay attention to the cuts in the corners. With lower-quality mats, the reductions can extend beyond the borders.

Straight Cut on the Outside: Make sure that your outside edge is straightforward and not curved. This is an option used by framers of lower quality.

Border alignment: The inside borders of the mat board should be perfectly parallel to its outside edge.

Double Mat Alignment: When using multiple mats, if the edges aren’t straightened and taped correctly, it will be obvious. Some framers will tape both layers without additional charges, while others won’t.

Cleanliness: It is easy for the matboard to get scratched, damaged, or dirty from handling.

Fingerprints/smudges: It is best to use gloves when handling matboards to prevent fingerprints and smudges. It is easy to get matboards dirty, especially white ones.

Bends: In extreme cases, the matboard might have been bent during handling. Even larger mats can be created easily.


It is difficult to determine the matboard color, but it is easier to see the more intense and sharper the color. There are many types of matboard:

Smooth: no texture, velvety surface. These are the majority in matboards.
Textured: A slight pattern or texture that gives the matboard its character. Poor textures can look dull and grainy.
Designer: These are usually more expensive matboards but can be made in unique patterns, such as basketball or football.
Suede: Suede is a more expensive material, and it is more often used than other materials.