What Are Mat Boards?

Mat boards are heavy-weight paper-based products used in the process of framing pictures and artwork. They are made from a material resembling cardboard and are used to separate the art from making direct contact with the glass and frame. 

The inside portions of mat boards are cut out as windows to help hide the corners of the art being framed. Though commonly rectangular in nature, they are available as squares, ovals, circles, and more. It helps create a finished and professionally polished look for every framed piece of art.

Are Mat Boards Necessary For A DIY Photo Collage?

Mat boards are most recognized as offering a single window cutout, but they’re also available to create photo collages in a streamlined fashion. By opting to employ the use of picture frame mats in DIY collage framing, users can experience a number of potential benefits:

  • Photographs are easily tarnished due to humidity and condensation buildup. The use of mat boards is able to offer a buffer zone that protects the photos from making direct contact with glass or acrylic found in frames.
  • The colors of photographs can transfer and migrate to the glass when careful attention isn’t paid to how it’s framed. A mat board eliminates the transfer of photographic colors and will ensure that the image remains bright for many years to come.
  • Collages, by nature, don’t have a focal point or a place to rest the eyes. A mat board with properly sized cutouts can provide breathing space when looking at the finished product in the frame.
  • Mat boards are also great spaces to write comments or captions to accompany photographs. When creating a collage, it is especially important to call attention to the different elements at play. From highlighting the special colors to delineating moments that matter, mat boards are able to help customize all aspects of the photo collage.
  • Perhaps most often overlooked is that a mat board is easily able to complement the decor and the colors used in a given space. Even if the photographs on their own feel overwhelming, a mat board is able to tone down the impact it makes.

2 Options For Presenting A DIY Photo Collage

1. Prefabricated Mat Boards

It is possible to purchase prefabricated mat boards in various sizes that already contain cutouts or openings for photographs. These mat boards can help curate a collection of photos as a collage, but people are often limited by the sizes available. In some instances, these mat boards may not also have the same quality or attention to detail as custom options.

Many picture frames are sold with collage mat boards already included in the price. Though convenient and easy to use, these mat boards are usually composed of thinner ply cardboard and don’t contain the same archival nature as selecting a custom piece.

2. DIY Cutouts With Mat Board Sheets

A more customized option is to purchase archival, or at the very least, acid-free mat board and to make the appropriately sized cutouts to accommodate the photographs properly. Though this is more time-consuming, it offers crafters and hobby framers the ability to make their collages more specific.

An X-acto knife is usually sufficient to make decent-edged cutouts, but they’re not able to make bevel cuts that add a professional dimension. Fortunately, there are affordable mat-cutting tools out there that are not only simple enough to use but highly affordable.

Mat boards are a crucial finishing touch to framing beloved photographs and artwork. They protect the paper against undue damage but, most importantly, enhance the overall appeal of the framed image.

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