The 7 Most Popular Mat Board Styles Defined

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
  2. A single mat, with the image centered, is the most common mat board style. [Tweet This]. 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.

    Example of a Single Matboard with Equal Borders

    Single Mat with Equal Borders
     

  3. Bottom-Weighted Mat Board
  4. A bottom-weighted mat is when the bottom border of the mat board is wider than the top and sides. There are a couple different schools of thought on how bottom-weighting originated. One school believes it originated with the Victorian tradition of hanging picture frames high up on the walls. Another feels it’s due to our preference for a solid base. My personal favorite school of thought is more scientific in nature. 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. Our website displays a bottom weight feature when you select “Customize this preset frame size” while creating your mat.

    Example of a Bottom-Weighted Matboard

    Bottom-Weighted Mat
     

  5. Double and Triple Mat Boards
  6. A double mat consists of two (2) mat boards, stacked on together, a top and bottom. The window opening of the bottom mat surrounds the image. The top mat covers the bottom mat. It 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 normally 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 seem especially popular for sports memorabilia. Our website allows you to create double and triple mats in different colors.

    Example of a Double Matboard

    Double Mat
     

  7. Multiple Opening Mat Board
  8. 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, stamps, or other collectibles. We can create a multiple opening mat board for you. Select “Multiple Opening Mat Fee” on the main mat board page and follow the instructions for submitting your order.

    Example of a Multiple Opening Matboard

    Multiple Opening Mat
     

  9. Museum Mat Board
  10. 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 whatever width you desire.

    Example of a Museum Matboard

    Museum Mat
     

  11. Oriental Mat Boards
  12. Oriental mats are designed to mimic scroll 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.

    Example of an Oriental Matboard

    Oriental Mat
     

  13. Print Mat Board
  14. 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 mat on our website by selecting “Customize this preset frame size” while creating your mat.

    Example of a Print Matboard

    Print Mat

About the author

author

Joely Rogers is the vice president of Frame Destination, Inc. She has been with the company since 2005. Joely has a graduate degree in English language education and storytelling from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is also a lifelong artist and paints, sculpts, and creates art journals and jewelry in her cozy home studio. Her personal website is www.cafejoely.com.

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