Different Alternatives of Picture Frame Mat Styles

Published: 03rd October 2011
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For most viewers of art, wider mats give a visual breathing space between your art and the picture frame which is much more comfortable. Once used usually by museums and art collectors for highly valued pieces, wide mat borders have become popular for all varieties of framed art.

The right choice of mat borders is primarily personal preference, which may change with time. One great tip to help you decide what you like is to take a look at framed art in museums, magazines, friend's homes, and elsewhere that art is available.

Along with the width of your mat border, variations have developed with time, many of which came into being to fit different styles of art in addition to different decor. You can create the mood of the art that you're desiring to showcase using a variety of types of mat borders.

Equivalent Borders, Single Mat

The most basic standard mat has equal widths all the way around and offers a simple presentation for virtually any kind of art. The texture and color of the surface of this mat board can establish the overall character of the artwork.

Numerous Opening Mats

With this type, that is usually utilized for photographs, multiple openings are cut into one mat board to allow for the display of more than one picture, each in its own individual window. The openings can be the same shape and size, or a variety of shapes and sizes. This kind of mat may also be used to show off collections, like trading cards or stamps. When you are displaying many items within one frame, usually it is best to select simple frames, like solid colored wood picture frames or plain silver plated picture frames.

Double Mat

The double mat is really two mats that are on top of one another. From a 1 / 2 of an inch to 1/8 inch of the bottom mat is revealed inside the opening of the top mat. Usually the mats are two different colors, but this is not necessary. This kind of mat creates both physical and visual depth. If the artwork utilizes a double mat, it can be considered to be a more finished and professional looking piece.

Weighted Bottom Mat

A slightly extended, or wider, bottom border is what a weighted bottom mat is about. Some say it gives the feel of a solid base and suits a person's eye. It's a popular style for several varieties of art framing.

Museum Mat

This style of mat has a distinctly wider lower border and significant borders along the sides and top. Art museums usually use this kind of mat to showcase drawings, engravings, and watercolor paintings, which is where the name comes from. Museums normally prefer using neutral mats including white, gray, and off-white, but for use in interior decor, some prefer more density within the color of their matting.

An Oriental Mat

This style of mat has two narrow opposite sides, plus the remaining borders are much wider, and is supposed to mimic the proportions of the art that's located on scrolls. The narrow sides usually are one fourth to 1 / 3 the width of the other two sides. This kind of mat works the best for elongated art, but is commonly seen with Asian art prints and paintings.

The Arched Mat

If you are looking for a traditional, romantic, or classical feel, pick a curved arch mat. This type of mat gives artwork a feeling of antiquity and will be great for vintage photographs. It's also a good choice for romantic photos like from a wedding or anniversary.

Print Mats

With wider sides and also a narrow bottom and top, this mat provides a piece of art a contemporary character and is ideal for prints on oversized pieces of paper.

Oval Mat

A mat which includes an oval opening imparts both a romantic as well as an old fashioned feel. This type of mat works best for a centered image, since the corners of the art that you're framing will be hidden. You'll see oval mats used often to frame vintage photographs, wedding photographs and silhouette portraits.

Fabric Covered Mats

It's easy to add depth and dimension using the texture of the fabric mat. Most often these are found covered with linen, silk, suede, and velvet.

The French Mats

The opening of the French mat is enclosed by ink lines, with panels of watercolor washes between the lines. These may have just two lines with one wash of color, or they can have a series of lines and color panels.

Embellished Mat

It is possible to apply stickers or any other decoration on the surface of a mat, like a simple monogram within a corner or perhaps a tiny decorative design on all four corners. You could make your artwork playful or maybe elegant and formal, depending on what sort of embellishment you decide to do.

Now that you have learned about some of the many different types of mat which you can choose, have some fun framing your pictures. Help make your picture or artwork look its best with the kind of mat that you choose.


Take a look online at our huge selection of picture frames and mats in varying styles. Shop online and see our picture frames now or call 800-780-0699.

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