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What is Archival Matting

Matting, which is sometimes referred to as a paper mat or a mount in Europe, is a border that surrounds the artwork within a picture frame. The border can be white or a neutral coloring or it can be a color or specific texture. The possibilities are endless, and it can even be highly decorative and look like art.

Matting is traditionally used on artwork that is flat – paper, newspaper, certificates, photos, posters etc. Matting can also be used for fabric items and can be used as spacing for thicker items as well.

Many materials can be used to create the matboard, but there are specific boards made for picture framing. The boards are created by layering different types of material. You will have a back lining, a center or core sheet and then a top layer which would have the design or colored element.

Matboards are available in an extremely wide variety of colors, textures, and sizes. The standard matboard size is 32” X 40” but many manufacturers have come out with a wide variety of larger sizes.

A fully archival mat would be a Rag Mat. Rag Mats are made of 100% pure cotton fiber. The word comes from “rag” which is an old papermaker’s term that means “old days”, like when old cotton rags and trimmings were the main raw materials used for papermaking; we continue to use this term today to mean paper made from cotton pulp. Rag Mats re made from cotton linters, linters are the fibers that attach to the outer shell of cotton seeds. This type of material has been used on fine art and originals in museums since the 1930’s.


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