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Select a Framed Art Mat

Choosing the Right Mat for Your Art

Using a mat with your framed art not only adds a protective barrier between your glass/plexi-glass and your art print but also helps to accentuate your artwork, make it appear larger and add some style.

When it comes to framed art, mats can change the entire look and feel of your artwork. Choosing a mat, however, can be a very difficult process. Selecting the wrong width, color or number of mats can leave your framed art looking disjointed, small and incohesive.

Different Mats on the Same Artwork

Things to consider when choosing a mat:

1.   Frame and Mat Configuration
2.   Number of Mats
3.   Location of Framed Art
4.   Mat Width
5.   Mat Color(s)

Frame and Mat Configurations

Matching your frame and mat is rarely a good option. If you're choosing a brown frame, you probably don't want to use a brown mat. The same goes for a red frame and a red mat. While it may be tempting to use the same color, the likelihood of the mat and frame matching perfectly is pretty slim.

As a result, your artwork will look heavy and mismatched. Instead, you can pick up the color of your frame as an accent by using 2 mats. Check out the difference!

Red Mat on a Red Print
White Mat on a Red Print
Red Mat on a Red Print
White Mat on a Red Print

If you choose to use multiple mats, you can pick up various colors in the print or frame to unite the look and feel of your artwork. Use bold, dark or bright colors as accent mats since these have a tendency to overpower your art and the frame. Check out how you can use a blue and brown mat underneath a white one to pick up the blue in the art print and the chocolate brown in the frame:

Red Mat on a Red Print
White Mat on a Red Print
White Mat on a Red Print

Adding an additional brown mat underneath the blue frames the art print and make it pop!

When selecting the number of mats and the color(s) you want to use, you should also consider where the location where the artwork will be hung.

For smaller spaces, using a thick white mat helps to make the space open it up while drawing attention to the artwork. In this example, we used a wide piece with a thick white mat in a small guest bathroom. The brightness of the art along with the thick white mat makes the space look larger.

Expanding a small bathroom
framed flower art in a bathroom

For larger spaces, creating a wall gallery or using a thick mat is a way to make your artwork take up more space. By adding a 2.5" wide mat to a piece of framed art, the finished size changes from 32" x 19" to 36" x 23". This makes it larger enough to fit comfortably over a couch.

espresso art in the living room

While the size of the space you want to hang your framed art is very important, the decor and wall colors of your current room should also be taken into consideration. If you have lighter colored walls, you can use an accent mat to pick up a color in your current decor. If you have darker walls, stick to clean white or off-white mats to make your print pop.

Framed Blue Beach
Blue Beach
18" x 18"
Price: $162.99
Sale: $146.69

When it comes to mat width, if your mat width is too skinny, it can make your artwork appear heavy and off-balance. For artwork 18" and under in height or width, we suggest using a 2" wide mat. Keep in mind that this adds an additional 4" to the height and width of your framed art. For artwork over 18" in width of height, we suggest using a 2.5" or 3" mat to fit the size of your piece.

Small Abstract Art Print
2" Mat / Finished Size: 16" x 16"
Large Framed Abstract Art
2-1/2" Mat / Finished Size: 37" x 37"

If you are going to hang a group of artwork together as a framed art gallery, be sure to choose the same mat width for all of your artwork to give it a united feel. You can still use wider mats on larger framed artwork but you will use that unity that only having the same width can achieve.

While some posters, photographs or artwork with a good deal of white space can look better framed without a mat, also known as full-bleed. Most artwork should use a mat, not only for protection but also aesthetics. If you're displaying a poster of your favorite celebrity, movie or TV show, you may want to leave a mat off entirely:

Movie Posters with and without Mats

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