Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (2022)

Take it from us. Picking your mat board colors is really fun.

You’re able to express your creativity, find color combinations that’ll make your art jump off the wall, and when you finally see it all come together, the final product can’t help but put a smile on your face.

It is a great feeling.

But with so many colors to choose from, it can be confusing to figure out what you want.

Which is why we put together this guide to help you get started. Here are some guidelines that can help you choose a matting color.

(To see how your artworks look like with different mat board colors, try ourcustom mat board builder)

Contents

  • 1 Black and White Mats
    • 1.1White + Variations of White
    • 1.2Dark vs Light/ Highlights vs Shadows
    • 1.3Matting Black and White Photos
    • 1.4Increasing Depth with Black Mat Boards
  • 2 Dominant Color
  • 3 Complementary + Split-Complementary
  • 4 When to Double Mat?
    • 4.2Another Layer of Depth
    • 4.3Drawing Attention to Your Subject
    • 4.4Increasing Depth with Black Mat Boards
  • 5 Black Core
  • 5 8-Ply
  • 5 Wrap Up

Black and White Mats

Black and white mats are the most commonly used mat boards. They provide a simple, professional finish for your artwork.

If you are planning to sell your artwork, black, white, or variations of black and white are the way to go (most of the time). The reason for this is because these colors are the easiest to match with decor and frame choices.

White and black makes it easy for customers to imagine the artwork in their own home and the sale that much easier.

White + Variations of White

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (1)

(White Economy #NS501)

White mats and variations of white (off-white, ivory, ivory turret) are the most commonly used mat boards—for good reason.

White pretty much goes with anything.

It won’t be the best choice in every situation. But without knowing where the artwork is going to be hung or what frame is going to be used, white is always a safe solution.

There is some yellow tape that comes with white mats however.

Be careful with white mat boards when you’re matting artworks with:

  • Soft colors (pastels, chalk, etc)
  • “Muddy whites” or whites that aren’t as bright

A bright white mat board in these cases will overpower the artwork, diverting attention away from it.

In these cases, variations or shades of white (grey, off-white, ivory, ivory turret) will be a much better solution.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (2)

(White Economy #NS501, Light Grey Economy #NS120, Off-White Economy NS502)

That brings us to our next topic:

(Video) How To Choose the Right Mat: Learn about matting and picking mat boards for your photos

When to go with grey and when to go with off-white?

Dark vs Light/ Highlights vs Shadows

To illustrate the difference, here’s a comparison of an off-white mat board and a black mat board.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (3)

(Off-White Economy NS502, Black Economy NS142)

A pure white mat board would be too strong here. But even with the off-white mat board, the highlights don’t look as strong as they should.

The black mat board, on the other hand, really helps the highlights shine here.

So, for when you’d like to accentuate your highlights, go with a darker shade.

For shadows, do the opposite.

Take a look at this comparison for example.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (4)

(White Economy #NS501, Black Economy #NS142)

The shadows on the right just don’t carry the “oomph” that they should. The black mat is too dark and overpowers the shadows.

Whereas when matted with the white mat board, the shadows look fine.

So for times you’d like your shadows to pop, go with the lighter tint.

Matting Black and White Photos

The same logic applies for black and white prints as well. When matting your b&w prints, mat with the lesser of the two colors.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (5)

(Black Economy #NS142)

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (6)

(White Economy #NS501)

Increasing Depth with Black Mat Boards

One caveat with black mats or mat boards of a darker shade is that they increase depth. They pull the eye in.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (7)

(Off-White Economy #NS502, Black Economy #NS142)

For artworks that feature a lot of depth, this can really make it pop.

(Video) Matting and Framing Tutorial

Dominant Color

Matting with a dominant color from your artwork is also very common.

The mat board will blend in seamlessly, making this great for accentuating elements that don’t share the same color.

PS. It doesn’t have to be the same exact color. Just choose something that is close enough, monochromatic or analogous colors work fine.

The contrast is beautiful when done right.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (8)

(Dynamic Blue Economy #NS138)

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (9)

(Dignity Blue Economy #NS141)

Complementary + Split Complementary Colors

Some color theory does wonders when putting your artwork up on your walls.

For a bold, striking look, try pairing your artwork with a complementary color.

Complementary colors are colors that are directly opposite on the color wheel. When paired together, the strong visual contrast is both striking and dynamic.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (10)

(Bottle Blue Crescent #BW334, Dignity Blue Economy #NS141, Dynamic Blue NS#138)

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (11)

(Maroon Economy #NS124)

If complementary colors are too bold, try split-complementary colors for something more soothing but still visually interesting.

Split-complementary colors are colors that are analogous or next to the complementary color.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (12)

(Bottle Blue Crescent #BW334)

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (13)

(Old Gold Economy #NS143)

To discover complementary or split-complementary colors, https://www.colorhexa.com/ is a great resource that’ll give you exactly what you need. Just type in the color you’d like to match with, and the website will feed you the colors you’re looking for.

When to Use Double Mat

What is a double mat?

(Video) Color Theory Basics | Using a Color Wheel to Choose and Mix Paint Colors

A double mat is when a top mat board is layered over a bottom accent mat.

By double matting, you can introduce a splash of color to your matting selection, create more depth, offset the brightness of a white mat or the darkness of a black mat, and draw more attention to your subject.

Here’s how you accomplish that.

B&W/W&B

If you’d like to mat with a black mat without weakening your shadows or if you’d like to mat with a white mat without weakening your highlights, you can do so by double matting.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (14)

(Off-White Economy #NS502, Black Economy #NS142)

Another Level of Depth

By double matting, you can introduce another layer of depth to your project.

You can use this to enhance the depth that is already there or to give some depth to artwork that is flatter.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (15)

(White Economy #NS501)

Drawing Attention to Your Subject

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (16)

(Top Mat—Light Grey Economy #NS120,

Bottom Mat—Deep Blue Economy #NS222)

Compare the two examples here.

You’ll find the eye is more focused on the ferris wheel in the second example.

The blue mat helps the eye settle in where you’d like the eye to settle. By bottom matting with the color of the subject, the eye darts to your subject and remains there.

However, if you were to mat with only the blue color, the mat board will be too dominant taking attention away from the artwork. Because the subject is smaller, a hint of blue is all you need to bring it out.

For Splashes of Color

Sometimes top matting with a bold color is too much. Maybe it will clash with your decor. Maybe it will clash with your frame. Maybe you’d just like to tone it down.

By double matting, you can still introduce some color without it being overpowering.

The same guidelines still apply so we’ll just demonstrate how complementary and split-complementary colors look when double matted.

Complimentary Colors

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (17)

(Top Mat—Silver Crescent #BW472,

Bottom Mat—Bottle Blue Crescent #BW334, Dignity Blue Economy #NS141, Dynamic Blue NS#138)

(Video) Beginners Guide to Watercooling! Easy to Understand Tutorial

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (18)

(Top Mat—Light Grey Economy NS120,

Bottom Mat—Maroon Economy #NS124)

Split-Complementary Colors

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (19)

(Top Mat—Ivory Turret Economy #NS104,

Bottom Mat—Bottle Blue Crescent #BW334)

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (20)

(Top Mat—Off-White Economy #NS502,

Bottom Mat—Old Gold Economy #NS143)

Black Core

Black core mat boards are mat boards that have been dyed black on the inside. When cut, the beveled edge will show black instead of white or cream.

The black isn’t nearly as dark as a black mat board and the reveal is much less than double matting. What you get instead is just a hint of black.

This is a great way to add a cinematic flair to your finish.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (21)

8-ply

8-ply mat boards are twice as thick as regular mat boards. The extra thickness of 8-ply mat boards can help create depth and a sense of drama.

This heightens the “importance” of the artwork and looks great with portraits or other serious artworks.

Selecting Mat Board Color—⁠⁠A Comprehensive Guide (22)

Wrap Up

Each artwork is unique and will have its own color palette that works well with it.

But as a starting point, these guidelines will point you in the right direction.

White Mats

  • Great in almost every situation
  • Use a variation (off-white, ivory, ivory turret, etc) when pure white is brighter than your highlights
  • If you’re hanging a show, go with white or an off-white
  • Looks great when paired with black dominant B&W artworks

Black Mats

  • Great for accentuating highlights
  • Can diminish the shadows in your artwork
  • Looks great when paired with white dominant B&W artworks
  • For artworks that feature a lot of depth, black mat boards help it jump off the page

Dominant Color Mats

  • Matting with the dominant color of your artwork allows the mat board to blend in
    • If the color appears in the foreground, the background is accentuated and vice-versa
  • Can be analogous or monochromatic colors. Close is good enough

Complementary + Split-Complementary Colors Mats

  • Bold and striking. For something more soothing, try a split-complementary color for your mat color
  • https://www.colorhexa.com/ is a great resource to discover these colors

When to Double Mat

(Video) HALLOWEEN GLASS ART EPOXY RESIN, CRUSHED GLASS, TUTORIAL, GUIDE, GLASS ON GLASS, OLD WINDOW ART 2022

  • B&W
    • Offset the brightness of a white mat by bottom matting with a black mat
    • Offset the darkness of a black mat by bottom matting with a white mat
  • Another level of depth
  • Draw attention to your small subject by bottom matting with its color
  • For splashes of color (complementary and split-complementary colors also work well here)

Black Core Mat Boards

  • Adds a cinematic element to your artwork

8-ply

  • Dramatic finish, great for portraits or “serious” artworks

If you’d like to preview your artwork with mat board colors, play around with our custom mat builder to find the best mat board for you.

FAQs

How do I choose a mat board color? ›

The color of a light mat should be a tone darker than the lightest color of the image. If using a dark mat, its color must be one tone lighter than the darkest color on the photo. Bright accents. Using a colored mat is a good way to attract attention to important segments of a photograph.

How do I choose a mat board? ›

A good rule of thumb is to choose a mat that is at least 1 inch wider than your moulding. Most mats are 2-4 inches wide; generally, larger artwork can support a wider mat, and smaller artwork would be paired with a narrower mat.

What mat color is best for black and white art? ›

The classic silver picture frame is a great way to accentuate the variety of tones in your black and white photos. A light-colored neutral mat surrounded by the elegance and shine of a silver frame can add light and joy to a room. For something darker, try a stormy grey or charcoal mat.

What is mat board in art? ›

Matboard, also referred to as a mat, is a heavy paper-based material used in the picture framing process. This cardboard-like material sits between a frame and your photography or artwork to give it a complete finished look.

What are matte colors? ›

Matte color is a color that is dull or flat indicating a lack of shine and luster. This term mostly applies to paints, art supplies and consumer products to indicate a lack of a shiny finish. The term matte originates with photo processing where it traditionally indicates a low to no gloss finish.

What is the best mat board? ›

The Best Mat Boards for Framing Artworks
  1. Crescent Colored Mat Board. Crescent's boards offer everything you would want to display your artworks: sturdiness, longevity, and a uniform surface. ...
  2. Mat Board Center Uncut Boards. ...
  3. Golden State Art Backing Boards. ...
  4. Archival Methods Conservation Mat Board. ...
  5. Mat Board Center Picture Mats.
20 Oct 2020

What is the thickness of Matt board? ›

The thickness of a mat board, indicated as “ply,” is often an afterthought when it comes to selecting a mat board. In general, 4-ply (1/16-inch thick) and 8-ply (1/8-inch thick) are the most common, but 6-ply is also available.

Is Matt board acid-free? ›

Although there are many variations - most mat boards fall into 3 categories. Decorative mat boards are considered acid-free in that they are buffered to a ph-neutral acidic level which will eventually deteriorate - primarily based on exposure to light.

How do I choose a paint frame color? ›

Consider the overall tone of the painting when choosing a frame. Lighter frame colors often work well for more casual pieces, while darker frames add a feeling of formality. To help your artwork stand out, choose a frame color that's different from your wall color.

What type of frame is best for a black and white photo? ›

Gold metal frames will give your black and white photos the bold and grand display that they deserve. In addition, the color gold works extremely well in rooms of neutral color palettes. Gold metal frames make the perfect accessory, adding a taste of color to your simple and calming color palette.

How do you Matt artwork? ›

How To Mat an Artwork - YouTube

How do you use a mat board? ›

How to Use a Window Mat to Frame a Photo - YouTube

What does Matt board look like? ›

Mat board sits just below the glazing in the framing package and on top of the artwork or photograph itself. It features a cutout, or mat window opening, to display the artwork underneath it. The cutout is often rectangular but sometimes circular or other shapes.

How is Matboard made? ›

Matboards are comprised of layers of paper, of various thickness, laminated together. The papers and core of a matboard are made from either unpurified wood pulp, purified alpha-cellulose wood pulp, or in the case of Museum-Grade board, cotton linter pulp. The primary constituent of any paper is cellulose fibers.

What is another word for matte? ›

In this page you can discover 22 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for matte, like: dull, mat, lusterlessness, lustrelessness, matt, felt, felt up, mat up, matt-up, matte up and null.

What does say matte mean? ›

Updated on October 07, 2019. Wait is a word we often yell to catch someone who might be leaving a room or building, or if we are running to catch a bus or train. The way you say "wait" in Japanese is Matte. The more formal form of the word is "Chotto matte kudasai."

Is matte a color or a finish? ›

Available for decades, matte paint is not actually a type of paint. Instead, it's a finish on a car's paint.

How do you know what size mat to get? ›

As a general guideline, the mat should be at least 1.5 times the size of the frame to keep the frame from overpowering the artwork. Adjusting the size of the visible mat will dramatically change the appearance of your art, so it's important to have an understanding of the desired final look.

How do you choose a frame size? ›

Tips for choosing the right frame size
  1. Think of the space. When trying to find the perfect frame, first consider the space you have to work with. ...
  2. Photo type. Consider the type of photo you are planning to hang in the space. ...
  3. Consider the matting. ...
  4. Bring the photo with you. ...
  5. Measure, measure, measure.
24 Mar 2022

How do I choose a picture frame? ›

Tips for choosing a frame

Tip 1: Don't overemphasize matching specific colors in your photo to the frame color. Instead, consider the overall tone of the image when selecting a frame. Tip 2: Select a lighter frame for casual or simple art—and choose a darker frame for more elegant or formal pieces.

What material is used for frame matting? ›

Wood Pulp. This type of mat board, also known as paper mat board, is the most common and least expensive.

Can you paint matboard? ›

You don't only have to use just one color: you can paint each side a different color, paint dots, or decorate it with other patterns. You can even mimic the artwork inside, painting the mat board bevel in the same color and style to “extend” the artwork to the mat board.

What paper is used for frame matting? ›

The board recommended for matting is 100% cotton rag-board. Most mat boards are buffered with an alkaline material such as calcium carbonate, but unbuffered mat boards are available for use with sensitive photographic materials such as cyanotypes, some albumen prints and many color prints.

What GSM is Matt board? ›

Sheets
FinishGSMColour
Vellum390White
3 more rows

How do you square a mat board? ›

How To Square A Mat Board Blank using a Logan Mat Cutter - YouTube

How wide should a matte be? ›

As a general rule, your mat should always be 1.5 times as wide as your frame, or wider. If the mat is smaller than the frame, you run the risk of the artwork appearing stuffed into the frame.

Is mat board recyclable? ›

Rest assured that all Crescent matboards and artboards are 100% recyclable.

Is mat board archival? ›

Museum mat boards are made of 100% cotton. Cotton, unlike wood, contains no lignin at all. Combined with archival framing methods, your artwork will be preserved for hundreds of years.

How do you cut thick mat boards? ›

How To Cut Mat Board - Tips - YouTube

What is the difference between mat and matte? ›

Though "mat" is the most widely recognized spelling, all three words mean the same thing: a rigid paper border that divides the image from the glass and the frame. "Matte" or "matt" may also refer to a smooth, non-reflective finish.

How thick should mat board be? ›

Selecting Thickness and Ply

In general, 4-ply (1/16-inch thick) and 8-ply (1/8-inch thick) are the most common, but 6-ply is also available. Thicker mat boards provide a sturdier surface, preventing it from warping and damaging the artwork, and more depth for greater visual appeal.

Should all picture frames be the same color? ›

Whenever you are placing multiple pieces on a wall, there is one important rule; one item needs to stay consistent to pull the look together. The frames should all be the same color, same size or the same frame.

What size mat do I need for an 11x14 picture? ›

Off-the-shelf, pre-cut picture frames usually have mat boards with openings that are half an inch smaller than the intended picture size. For example, a 16″ x 20″ frame that includes a mat for framing an 11″ x 14″ print or photograph will have a mat window opening somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 1/2″ x 13 1/2″.

What is called matting? ›

matting 1. / (ˈmætɪŋ) / noun. a coarsely woven fabric, usually made of a natural fibre such as straw or hemp and used as a floor covering, packing material, etc. the act or process of making mats.

Is matte finish paint washable? ›

(opens in new tab) 'Matte paints are a little more robust (usually wipeable, but not washable) with a slightly more solid finish overall'.

What is mat finish? ›

matt finish in British English

(mæt ˈfɪnɪʃ ) a dull finish or surface, as opposed to a shiny one. This product is primarily used to seal floors prior to waxing; however, you can use it on its own if you require a matt finish. Collins English Dictionary.

What is the best mat board? ›

The Best Mat Boards for Framing Artworks
  1. Crescent Colored Mat Board. Crescent's boards offer everything you would want to display your artworks: sturdiness, longevity, and a uniform surface. ...
  2. Mat Board Center Uncut Boards. ...
  3. Golden State Art Backing Boards. ...
  4. Archival Methods Conservation Mat Board. ...
  5. Mat Board Center Picture Mats.
20 Oct 2020

What is a mat board made of? ›

Museum mat boards are made of 100% cotton. Cotton, unlike wood, contains no lignin at all. Combined with archival framing methods, your artwork will be preserved for hundreds of years. This is the option museums and collectors choose when framing photographs and artwork and is the most expensive option.

What GSM is Matt board? ›

Sheets
FinishGSMColour
Vellum390White
3 more rows

What Colour should picture frames be? ›

Placing your photo in a solid-colored frame, like black or white, can truly accentuate the beauty when used appropriately. Black frames offer an elegant, formal look, while white frames tend to be more casual and eclectic in nature. Both black and white frames carry a modern feel and streamlined appearance.

Is it OK to mix picture frame colors? ›

Have no fear. We're here to tell you that it's okay to mix and match frame colors. In fact, it adds the kind of character and variety the monochrome look can lack. Get creative with your combinations, mixing different wood tones together or throwing in some gold or silver frames with a glossy finish to make things pop.

Can I mix black and white with color photos on my walls? ›

Because the frames are more neutral, you can mix black and white and color photos and it will still look great.

What are standard Matt sizes? ›

The most popular size picture frames naturally match the most common photo printing sizes. These standard sizes include 4x6, 5x7 and 8x10.
...
Standard Frame Sizes.
Image SizeMat OpeningFrame Size
8.5" x 11"No Mat8.5" x 11"
8.5" x 11"3.75" x 5.75"11" x 14"
11" x 14"No Mat11" x 14"
11" x 14"3.75" x 5.75"16" x 20"
7 more rows

What size mat do I need for a 12x16 print? ›

Image size: 12x16"

This means that you need to have a frame equal to or larger than 13x17". If you wish to have a frame with a mat, make sure the OPENING is 12x16" and the actual frame is 13x17" or larger (for example, 16x20" frame matted to a 12x16" opening).

What size mat do I need for an 8x10 photo? ›

As an example, if your artwork is exactly 8 x 10 and it is going into a 16 x 20 frame, then you would order a 16 x 20 mat with a 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 opening. We recommend making the mat a half inch smaller unless your image goes to the edge of the picture, then you could go 7 3/4 x 9 3/4.

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