The 7 Most Popular Mat Board Styles Defined

Written by Joely Rogers

The style, color and cut of a mat board can dramatically change the look of your framed artwork and photos. While most ready-made frames have a typical, generic mat, understanding your mat board options can help you achieve the final look you’re envisioning. Here are seven popular mat board styles that will each give your framed art a unique look and feel.

(1) Single Mat Board with Four Equal Borders
A single mat, with the image centered, is the most common mat board style. In this style of mat presentation, all four of the mat borders surrounding the window opening are the same width. This style gives all types of artwork a clean, simple look. Most of our popular sizes feature centered mats with equal borders.

Single Mat with Equal Borders Single Mat with Equal Borders

(2) Bottom-Weighted Mat Board
A bottom-weighted mat is where the bottom border of the mat board is wider than the top and sides. There are several different schools of thought on the origin of bottom-weighting. One school believes it originated with the Victorian tradition of hanging picture frames high up on the walls, while another feels it's due to cultural preferences for a solid base. The scientific school of thought states it's based on the fact that the optical center, which is the place where a viewer's eye spends most of its time, is slightly above the true geometric center in a rectangular region.

How much wider should the bottom border be? It depends on the image size, but 1/2" to 2 inches is average. You can create bottom-weighted mat borders in custom size on our by clicking the “Customize this preset frame size” box while creating your custom mat board.

Bottom-Weighted Mat Bottom-Weighted Matboard 

(3) Double and Triple Mats
A double mat consists of two (2) mat boards stacked together, a top mat and a bottom mat. The window opening of the bottom mat surrounds the image. The top mat has a larger window, which allows a small border of the bottom mat, called the reveal, to be shown. The width of the reveal varies; however, it generally averages between 1/8” and 1/2" and most often it’s a different color. Double mats create physical and visual depth. Triple mats are used as well, and they are especially popular for sports memorabilia, such as team jerseys. Our website allows you to create double and triple mats in different colors to create your own custom-designed frame package.

Double Mat Double Mat Board Example 

(4) Multiple Opening Mat Board
A multiple or multi-opening mat is one that contains more than one window opening. Individual openings of identical or variable sizes and shapes are cut in one mat to display a number of items. Multiple opening mats are used for photo collage projects, trading cards, baseball cards, antique stamps, or other collectibles. We can create a multiple opening mat board for you. Select the “Multiple Opening Mat Fee” on the main mat board page and follow the instructions for submitting your order.

Multiple Opening Mat Multi-opening Window Mat

(5) Museum Mat Board
A museum mat has a wide top and side border, plus a significantly wider bottom border. Museum mats are named such because this style if often used by museums for displaying certain types of artwork. The mat colors used are typically whites, blacks, or pale neutral colors. The museum mat style is well-suited for smaller works of art such as drawings, engravings, and watercolor paintings. Our website lets you create mat border sizes in almost any custom-size width you desire.

Museum Mat Classic Museum Mat Example

(6) Oriental Mat Boards
Oriental mats are designed to mimic Asian scroll art proportions, the narrow mat borders are usually one third or less than the width of the wider borders. This type of mat is used both horizontally and vertically. It’s used most often with Asian art; however, it looks great with any type of elongated art. On our website you can adjust the mat border sizes to your preferred widths and create the perfect mat.

Oriental Mat Oriental Mat 

(7) Print Mat Board
A print mat has wide side borders and much narrower top and bottom borders. Some references say it originated from a publisher’s habit of printing original limited edition prints on oversized sheets of paper, while others say it was to preserve the value of original art on paper by not cutting or altering it in any way. You can design an extremely cool print window mat on our website by checking the “Customize this preset frame size” box while creating your mat.

Print Mat Print Mat Board

Click here to check out all of the different mat board types that we sell.

Last Updated June 25, 2021

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