How to choose the right type of matboard!

How to choose the right type of matboard!

A common concern of artists and photographers is choosing the right type of mat board.

There are confusing terms used to sell mat board.

Terms such as Acid-Free, PH Neutral, Archival, Rag, Alpha-Cellulose, Lignin-Free, FSC Certified etc.

The key to choosing the right board should be based on desired life-span of the final product.

Although there are many variations - most mat boards fall into 3 categories.
1. Decorative
2. Conservation
3. Museum Grade

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. These boards are best used for everyday projects that have a life expectancy of 5 - 25 years. Examples could include framing of cards, lab produced photographs and artwork or printed work on papers that may not be acid-free. For many projects including certificates, awards, promotions, events, advertising and short-term display - decorative or "regular" mats are more than adequate. They have the advantage of being the lowest cost type of board as well. Additional variations include endless varieties of surface papers and colors as well as different color cores.

Matshop uses Decorative White Core Matboard from Crescent Cardboard that is also considered and "Eco-Core" board.  This Berkshire board is called our Essentials Line due to it's extreme versatility and quality.

Conservation boards are used for most artwork or photographs that have a life expectancy of 50 -150 years - and should be used on original work, fine art prints on quality acid-free paper and other valuable papers. While not hugely expensive, they provide excellent long-term protection and many artists and photographers choose these types of boards for their original works and fine art reproductions. Some conservation mat boards come with solid colors through the entire board from surface paper through the core and backing paper. Along with double-thicknesses and good color choices - these are an excellent choice for fine quality framing.

Matshop uses Artique Conservation Matboard that has an 85 year lifespan.

Museum Grade boards are usually cotton based "Rag" mats whose life expectancy is as long as possible. Some manufacturers claim 100s of years of protection under "ideal" conditions. These boards are not significantly more expensive than conservation boards and therefore should be used for very valuable works or works to be archived and displayed indefinitely. Again, a variety of types of museum boards are available although colors of surface papers may be a bit more limited.

Matshop uses a variety of boards but primarily Rag boards from Crescent Cardboard.

All of the board Matshop cuts and distributes meets North American Quality Standards.