Why Do We Use Mat Board for Photography? - Cramer Imaging - Quality Fine Art Photography
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Why Do We Use Mat Board for Photography?

Why Do We Use Mat Board for Photography? Photography of any kind, designed to hang on the wall long term, usually ends up matted in the frame for presentation.  Have you ever wondered why that is?  I have.  That is the topic which we are going to discuss here today: why we use mat board with photography.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of one of our award-winning black and white cloud photos matted in a grey or neutral mat

Photography is important to us.  If something is important enough to photograph and then get printed out, it's important enough to preserve.  This is the reason for mat board.  It is there to help preserve the photo against several different threats such as sticking to glass, damage from impacts, and ravages from acid.  It also adds a presentation element to the photo being displayed in it.

Protection From Sticking

This is the kind of damage you can deal with when your photo sticks to the glass in front of it.
Have you ever dug though old photos and found that the paper wants to stick to the album pages?  I have and very recently too in fact.  It wasn't easy removing the protective film from over the top of the old photos.  I had to be very careful not to damage the image on paper when removing the plastic film.  It took some patience.

Now, imagine that you are trying this same process on a much larger photograph and the protective film is not flexible plastic but rigid glass.  Does this seem like it will be an easy task to pull it photo off the glass without damaging the paper somehow?  This is where the mat board comes in.

Mat board provides an added barrier and air cushion between the surface of the photo and the glass (or other form of glazing) in front of it.  With the window in the mat you can still see the photo behind but you don't have to worry about destroying the picture later by squishing it up against the glass.

Protection From Impact Damage

Photograph of a fallen picture in a frame with broken glass in front on the floor
Should you find that you drop the framed photograph in question, the mat board will protect much of the image from being damaged.  It's more resilient than paper is and can help protect the picture from being torn up by shattered glass from and impact.  This is not a full guarantee of protection by any means but it can help.

The photograph displayed to the left is in real danger of having the broken glass edge scrape across the print and permanently damage it in the process.  Mat Board would have added a layer in between the glass and photo which would prevent contact with the sharp edges of the broken glass.

Protection From Acid

Acid is a long-term problem which photography prints face.  It's something which leeches in over time and yellows a photo.  It also makes the paper fragile and more susceptible to tearing or crumbling.  The photo on the right is a good example of what can happen to a photo thanks to long-term acid exposure.

Should you use the acid-free varieties of mat board to hang your picture with, the mat board will offer a nice shield against the ravaging effects of the acid in the picture frame, plastic glass (if you're using a cheap frame), and the backing materials.  The photo being displayed will last for years to come without yellowing or crumbling (paper getting fragile).

Presentation Element Added

Mat board is a great way to get smaller or unusually sized images to fit into standard-sized picture frames.  It will fill in the space with a color or pattern designed to make the picture pop more while adding both length and width in important places so there's not visible empty space in the picture frame.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of an award-winning photos depicting a waterfall in a simple double mat and wooden frame
Check out how the mat allows this photo to fit in a larger frame while adding a beautiful presentation to it at the same time.


Mat board is a great way to protect your treasured photographs from  some very serious concerns.  It's also a great way to present the final image for display.  With such versatility, it's no wonder that mat board has become a popular staple with the art world when it comes to displaying photography.  when looking to hang your next long-term wall art, I hope that you will consider adding a mat to the final product for these reasons.  Happy decorating.