Matting materials

What is the difference between the different kinds of matboard?

The prime criteria in selecting matboard is that it should be an acid-free material. PH measurement is the rating of the chemical activity of the acid present in a substance. The PH scale is numbered from 0 � 14, zero has the greatest concentration of acidity and 14 has the greatest concentration of alkalinity.

A “neutral PH” of 7 is desirable in paper because even a slightly acidic condition may have deteriorating effects.

acidic PH neutral alkaline

To understand the quality differences between boards it is necessary to understand what they consist of and how they are manufactured.

Regular acid-free matboard – Good
These boards are made up of wood pulp that has been treated.Treatment is necessary because the wood pulp used to make these boards is highly acidic, a result of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Acidity in matboards is an important factor. When an acid-free work of art is framed with acidic matting material, the acidity actually migrates into the artwork.
These boards are made up of three components. The backing paper and core are made from wood pulp and buffered with calcium carbonate to neutralize the acidity. The facing paper is not buffered. These are the least expensive boards and come in the widest variety of colors. They should be used when color and price are more important than conservation.

Colored rag boards – Better
These boards are also made up of three components. The backing paper and core are made of 100% rag boards and/or alpha pulp (which is wood pulp that has had the acid removed during the manufacturing process).The facing paper is made from alpha pulp. They are buffered with calcium carbonate for added protection. The colors are all fade resistant. For those of you who are more concerned about conservation yet need more colors than are available in the museum boards, these are a good choice.

100% rag boards (museum boards) – Best
These are solid boards made up of cotton and linen rags which are made into a pulp.. They are completely acid-free. These are also buffered with calcium carbonate. This helps to reduce the acidity that can migrate from other components of the artwork package. All colors are fade resistant, although color selection is limited. It is considered the best protection you can put on your artwork and are the only boards used by museums and fine art galleries.

Metropolitan carries Rising Museum Boards. They are made to the strictest standards and have been approved by the Library of Congress and exceed the mat board standards set by the Fine Art Trade Guild. They are available in 4 and 8 ply thicknesses and are made of 100% cotton which is naturally lignin-free. The boards are made with a minimum pH of 7 and is acid-free. No alum is used in the entire paper making process. The boards are buffered with a minimum 3% calcium carbonate as required by the U.S. Library of Congress to protect the board from hostile environmental factors. Mats are available in white, warm white, antique white, and polar white.