Custom Matting 101: Basics of Mat Selection

custom matting selection at Rosenbaum Framing local frame shop

Mats – also referred to as mat boards or matting – are used in the custom framing process, placed between the frame and the item, or beneath the item being framed, to achieve a more polished look. Matting is typically made of heavy paper-based material but can also incorporate other materials such as a fabric wrap to add an element of texture.

Our custom framing professionals in South Florida can help you realize your vision for custom framed and matted photographs, artwork, important documents such as diplomas and certificates, and memorabilia, taking into account three key factors involved in custom matting.


Matting adds a decorative border to enhance the photo, document, artwork or other item being framed. Mats can be done in one of two main styles: a float (where the item being framed sits on top of the mat) or a reveal (where the mat is placed on top of the item being framed, allowing it to show through a “window” cut into the mat.) Mat border widths can be as small as 1”, and border widths between 1” and 5”are common. Typically, the larger the item being framed, the wider the matting, but the size of the mat border ultimately comes down to personal preference and the look you are trying to achieve. For example, large mat borders can be used around a small item to  create an interesting effect that draws more attention to the item itself.

Our custom picture framers in Boca can help you choose the perfect mat width for framing photos, artwork, certificates, diplomas, or memorabilia.


The options custom matting offers are almost unlimited – from single mats to mulitiple, layered mats in a variety of shapes and colors. The most traditional matting is a single mat board with four equal borders around an image in the center; however, custom matting can incorporate layered mats, giving a custom-framed piece stunning visual depth and enhancing colors in the item being framed.

The bottom weighted style is another custom matting option in which the item being framed is placed towards the top, leaving a large negative space on the bottom. The space can remain empty for artistic effect or you can add additional items in the bottom border such as plaques, letters, medals, ticket stubs, photos and more.

Our precise laser mat board cutter can cut mats in different shapes including circles, letters, numbers, hearts and more, which can enhance sentimental items, photographs, diplomas and memorabilia by including a name, year, Greek letters, or other characters, as well as perfectly shaped windows for your items to show through.


Colored mats can elevate your artwork, certificate, diploma, memorabilia, painting, or photograph. While mat borders are commonly white, a framed piece can often benefit from a mat board in a complementary color, or even a mat with a different colored core that provides just a hint of color on the inner edge of the mat when it is cut.

Our framing designers suggest choosing mat colors based on those featured in the item, the frame, or the environment in which the item will be displayed. With our custom diploma and certificate framing services, documents can be matted in colors that match the institution such as school, Greek, or corporate colors. You can limit the mat boards to one or two colors so the matting doesn’t detract from the custom-framed item, or use matting in multiple colors for a creative effect. Our expert framers can help you experiment with different color options and combinations at our custom framing shop in Boca Raton to find the perfect solution for your item.

Standardized frame moulding and mat colors can also be used to provide a cohesive look for disparate elements that work well in a given space. Consistent frames and matting can help to unify an eclectic display.

Whether you are choosing matting for a single custom-framed photograph or creating a gallery wall with a mix of prints, art, photographs or other items, our professional framing services can help you achieve the aesthetic you desire for your home or office.

Contact us to learn more about the services we offer and browse through our work samples to see the level of quality we offer our clients.

Related Reading:

2021 Art Framing Trends

How to Frame Your Own Art

How to Decorate a New Home & Fill up Your Walls



Philip DeFrancesco

Author: Philip DeFrancesco

Philip DeFrancesco has been in the art framing business for over 40 years and has over 25 years of commercial interior design experience. His keen and experienced eye for art and design helps people find the perfect custom framing for their homes.