Now that you’ve finished or acquired a new work of art, the challenge arrives of framing it. For best results you should use a mat board, which rests between the art and the frame’s glass, helping to protect the piece from a range of elements, from mold to contact with the glass itself. When choosing a mat board, you should pay attention to the thickness, which will determine the level of support it gives your artwork, as well as how archival this buffer is. Also, some boards are best used for backing, while others can be easily cut to create a front frame with attractive beveled corners. Find the best options for your needs and price point below.
1. Crescent Colored Mat Board
Crescent’s boards offer everything you would want to display your artworks: sturdiness, longevity, and a uniform surface. These acid-free panels are made of four-ply board—thick enough to offer excellent support to whatever you’re framing but still easy to cut—and the newly exposed sides always show clean and smooth edges. Each board has a white back and core to produce white beveled edges.
2. Mat Board Center Uncut Boards
These boards are a great option for artists who like adding a pop of color to their presentations. They come in a pack of 20, with each board a different color. Choose from bright hues like baby pink and lime green or darker shades like navy and gray. They are acid-free, precisely cut for consistency, and well packaged to prevent damage. Our only gripe is that you get just one of each color, so you’ll have to buy more than one pack if you want your frames to match.
3. Golden State Art Backing Boards
Golden State’s boards come in a 50-pack, with each costing about 25 cents, making this a smart pick for classrooms or projects that require high-volume framing. They do have their drawbacks: Cutting doesn’t yield as smooth an edge as better-quality boards, and the sizes can be slightly off. Their cores are also brown, so these are best used for backing rather than framing if you prefer a clean white beveled edge. However, with acid-free surfaces, they will serve you well for casual display.
4. Archival Methods Conservation Mat Board
If preserving your framed works is key, we recommend Archival Methods’ boards, which are built to last for decades. Made of purified wood pulp, these are acid- and lignin-free and buffered with calcium carbonate to further protect paper artwork from deteriorating due to acidic pH levels. The surface presents a clean, subtly lustrous finish. Because these mats are quite thin and slightly challenging to cut, they are better used as a backing rather than a front board.
5. Mat Board Center Picture Mats
Cutting mats can be an incredibly frustrating process. Mat Board Center eliminates that process with this pack of boards, precut to fit artworks measuring 8 by 10 inches. Bevel cut to provide a gallery-worthy finish, the mats are sturdy, clean, and smooth edged. We also like that the boards are sold in packs of single colors so you can color-coordinate your art.