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Photo Mat Buying Basics

Photo Mat Buying Basics and our sister,, provides affordable and convenient means of obtaining photo mats.  Our prices on photo mats are far below a custom frame shop and the majority of our photo mats are carried in stock for quick and easy shipment.   


Prices of each photo mat is discounted as the quantity of each design purchased increases. 


There are certain characteristics of mats whether for photography or any other media.


The first most general characteristic is whether you want photo mats made of Archival or Standard materials.  Archival mats are the highest quality and Archival Cotton photo mats are the standard for comparing all mats.  They are the same mats used by museums and fine galleries to provide an environment that protects the photography they hold.  The next level of photo mats are Standard Core mats, often called acid free mats. These mats are made of pulp, paper.  They are created as an inexpensive means of purchasing photo mats that do not provide the protection of Archival Mats.  We primarily use a rule that if the photograph has monetary or personal value, it should be matted in archival mats.  If the photograph is for decorative purposes, it is alright to use Standard Core materials.


When deciding whether to purchase Archival or Standard Core, remember that archival photo mats will look fresher and hold their new appearance far longer than photo mats made from Standard Core.


The other choice you must make when purchasing a photo mat is what kind of core do you want.   The core is the center or thickest portion of the mat.  Although most mats have a paper cover that gives the photo mat its color(i.e. white, black, blue,  green), the core is what you see in the 45 degree bevel of the window.  It surrounds the art. 


In cotton archival photo mats the core, top and bottom layer are the same color.   Therefore, a white photo  mat is the same color on either side and the 45 degree bevel is also the same color.


However, in paper photo mats (archival or standard),  the construction is different  because the face and backing color is a sheet of paper that is glued onto the core.  Therefore, you can have a white photo mat (top color) with a black core which surrounds the image on the 45 degree bevel cut.


In archival paper mats, your choice is either  a white core or a black core.  Therefore, you can obtain monochromatic photo mats like white top color with white core and black top color with black core or you can have the opposite, a white photo mat with a black core and a black photo mat with a white core.


In Standard Core you have three colors of core.  You have Cream Core,  White Core and Black Core.   


The Cream Core photo mats were the first available standard core photo mats.  They were the standard for the non-archival mats and, ironically, the core was called white.  However, when brighter whites were created, they were "demoted" to Cream Core!  They are the least expensive mats available and are used for everyday art fairs and tourist items.  They are now available in our "Specials" section.


Black Core was the next core available in Standard Core photo mats.  Black Core was created to give the ability to design photo mats with high contrast like white with black core for black and white photography or, in reverse, to provide a monochromatic appearance with black on black core photo mats.


Tru-White is a name for a much brighter white core.  Previously this intensity of white was only available in archival photo mats.  Again, it works well with black and white photography.  However,  Tru-White provides a beautiful, clean and crisp white for all photography.  It became  our biggest selling Standard Core photo mat almost overnight.


Our site has three major sections.  Each provides a slightly different photo mat product designed to meet specific customer needs.  The three photo mat sections are "10 pak precut",  "1step easy"  and "Custom Cut".


The heart of our photo mat program is our 10 pak precut section.  10 pak precut is an ala carte offering where photo mats, backs, bags, printing paper and supplies are all offered for purchase separately.  It is usually best if the customer has some experience purchasing photo mats because there are numerous choices of each item rather than a single product, one size fits all, approach.   As the name implies, these photo mats as well as backs and bags are sold in units of 10 They are available in numerous sizes for both traditional and digital photography.  They are in-stock, ready for immediate shipment.


The second section, "1 step easy" provides a simpler interface with the purchaser and provides a single solution.  A photo mat including a precut back and a clear presentation bag  that looks like shrink wrap and has adhesive attached so the flap can be opened and closed repeatedly.  In addition, the 1 step back has the position for your print inscribed on it and it also has double faced tape already positioned to attach your print to the back and your back to the photo mat. 1 step photo mats are available in quantities starting at only 1 photo mat! They are also carried in stock for immediate shipment.


The Custom Cut section is your source for photo mats when you need any of the following:

  1. You need a custom outside dimension to fit a frame you already have.
  2. You need a custom window to fit a print that is not standard.
  3. You need a color that is not available in our precut photo mat sections.


The minimum order is only 30 identical mats in the Custom Cut section and a large variety of mat board and colors are available.  You can specify your own dimensions or select from several thousand photo mats in our Library of Designs.  You can even specify photo mats without a window so you can cut your own photo mats.  This is a great source of material when you have several designs but only need a couple of custom photo mats of each.


Whether you need only one photo mat for a cherished picture or 1000 photo mats for resale of your photography, and  are your source for stock or custom needs.

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