What Are Matted Prints?

By Warren Rosenberg
A matted, framed print will highlight and protect your artwork and photographs.

While digitally captured photographs are increasingly displayed through online photo sharing services, smart phones and electronic digital picture frames, there is still little that compares to the visual impact of a traditional matted print. The matted, framed print remains the most formal way for displaying art quality prints at home or in the gallery.

Types of Matting

Matting prints accomplishes two very important goals: to create a physical separation between your print and the glass that will cover it when mounted and framed and to provide a decorative border that will highlight and call attention to the print. Mats can be selected in a variety of colors to complement the colors in your print or of your frame, as well as in varying surface textures and thicknesses. Your own artistic taste will determine the characteristics of your matting material.

Mounting Prints on Matting

Prints are typically attached to the matting material using archival quality tape. Archival quality tape is preferred because it will not become brittle with age and its glue will not bleed through the print and matting material, creating brown or yellow stains. Alternatively, prints can also be mounted on mats using adhesive points, which are small, pre-cut triangular pieces of adhesive material placed at the corners of the prints to adhere them to to back of the mat.

Backing Materials

Matted prints will generally lack the rigidity to be handled or displayed. The print itself, displayed within the matting border, can be easily wrinkled, torn or otherwise damaged. Mounting the matted print on a rigid backing material can help eliminate the risk of this type of damage. Typical backing materials consist of corrugated cardboard or foam core boards, between 1/4 and 3/8 inches thick.

Framing

For a more formal look, matted and backed prints can be displayed in a frame that serves to further highlight the print with an additional decorative border, to protect your print with a covering of plexiglass or glass and to provide a means for hanging your print on a wall for display.

About the Author

A professor of allied health science and member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Warren Rosenberg has been writing since 1979 on topics including health and fitness. His works include the college textbooks "Exercise Science" and "Integrated Science." As a professional photographer, he provides photographs to textbook publishers, magazines and websites. He holds a Ph.D. from New York University.