General Question

YoBob's avatar

Acid free vs. "regular" matting for framed art.

Asked by YoBob (12798 points ) October 15th, 2010

My oldest son is quite the artist. He has a couple of pieces that have been needing frames for awhile. A local craft store was having a 50% off sale on frames so I (finally) picked up a couple. I also had some mats cut from material that they had in stock. I framed the pictures and they look great.

I was back in the store today to pick up some other supplies and noticed that the matting material I chose previously was not acid free. My question is: how much does this really matter when it comes to matting material?

The mat really only contacts the artwork along a very narrow strip around the borders. Is it possible for the acid in the mat material to leach further into the artwork or would any potential aging be limited only to the points of direct contact?

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6 Answers

marinelife's avatar

“Because acid free mat board is only temporarily acid free, it is not considered archival and should not be used for conservation purposes. If you want to mat original, one-of-a-kind works of art, limited edition prints, or any type of valuable paper memorabilia, you should not use an acid free mat board. Instead, you should use an archival, museum quality rag board that is naturally acid free. Mat board comes into direct contact with the artwork, so if you want to preserve and protect your artwork, you should choose a mat board such as Crescent Ragmat or Bainbridge Alpharag.” Source

YARNLADY's avatar

For long term conservation, museum quality framing and matting is required. You can have any professional do it, for a fee.

Plucky's avatar

I’m wondering why no one is answering the question:
“The mat really only contacts the artwork along a very narrow strip around the borders. Is it possible for the acid in the mat material to leach further into the artwork or would any potential aging be limited only to the points of direct contact?”

I would like to know that too :)

Does the acid actually harm the artwork in any way? Or does it depend on the type of artwork and paper/canvas?

marinelife's avatar

@PluckyDog “The difference is important for the long term protection of the piece because acidic mats can cause what is called mat burn, brown marks that creep in from the outside onto the displayed piece itself. While mat burn is sometimes reversible through cleaning the piece, cleaning may not be feasible if the piece was executed in water-soluble inks or paints, such as watercolor. Thus, it is important to know if the mats used are acid-free if the piece is to be preserved for a long time.” From Wikipedia

Plucky's avatar

Ahh, thank you kindly :)

SundayKittens's avatar

Acid-free all the way. It really does matter after time. In my experience it can leach, but not more than an inch or so. I’d like to see his stuff!

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