Matboard is a heavy cardboard-like material that is used to give a photograph, drawing, or other artwork a finished look during the picture framing process. Matboard is typically white or black, but colored matboard is available for those who seek a more unique look.
When you pay to have a picture professionally framed, matboard is usually included in the price of the framing. However, it is possible to purchase matboard from an art supply store and do your own framing. You can also purchase a handheld mat cutter for about 20 US Dollars (USD), although investing in a professional quality cutter is a wise idea if you plan to frame your own artwork on a regular basis.
If you’re going to use matboard to do your own picture framing, it’s important to measure correctly to leave an attractive border around your artwork. Typically, experts recommend that you leave at least a three inch border on the top and sides of your picture and four inches of space for the bottom border of the matboard. This helps to “weight” your picture and give the finished piece a more visually appealing look.
After measuring and marking the back of your mat, place the straight edge of the cutter along one of the lines and slowly run it down the edge. Be very careful about keeping your fingers away from the blade as you cut — mat cutters are very sharp. If you’re trying to create a beveled look in your finished mat, slant the cutter out away from the window you are cutting. This will ensure that the beveled edge is visible from the “right” side of the mat when you are finished.
If you make a mistake when cutting your matboard, try using a craft knife to correct the error. Rubbing a boning tool over the edge of the mat can help to make mistakes appear less noticeable. Running fine grit sandpaper or an emery board over the rough edges of the cut may be useful as well. However, if you’re consistently having trouble cutting your matboard, you may need to buy a new blade for your mat cutter. Dull blades produce dull cuts.
Most artists say that learning how to cut matboard is simply a skill that takes a lot of practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts produce less than satisfactory results. Be patient and practice on scraps of matboard until you have perfected your technique.