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Exploring Different Matboard Styles: How Much Matting Do I Need?

large frames
Frames featured: Derby in White with an Art Size of 14″ x 17″ and 5″ of matting in Smooth White (White Core)

You already have the poster, piece of art, or photo that you want to frame, but you also want to add a matboard. You might even have the color picked out already, so that shouldn’t be a big issue for you. But then you hit a bit of a hold-up: how much matting should you include in your frame? Is there a technically-sound “proper” amount? What would look good? Will there be an amount that is too much and distracting? Should you do a single or double mat?

There are tons of questions you might have when it comes to matting. Thankfully, we have those answers for you. We will be breaking down the different-sized matboards and what might look best with your framed piece.

Matboard Styles: The Most Common Matting

Amber Shirley @preppybohemianathome 10
Frame featured: Derby in Wheat with an Art Size of 22″ x 28″ and 2″ of matting in Smooth White (White Core)

Most customers add around 1 1/2″ to 2″ of matting in their picture frame when they order from our site. This is standard, as it does a good job of decorating the piece, without overly dominating the art and distracting the viewer. It makes what’s being framed the centerpiece while giving a little extra color or space.

This size matting would be great if you have posters, a basic photo or print, or a piece of art that’s within a relatively reasonable size. (Pro tip: Here at Frame It Easy we can provide matting for art up to 28″ X 36″ in “Art Size.”)

The part we love most about custom framing is there are no rules. Whatever you think will look best hanging up on your walls, we can make it for you. Generally speaking, however, the larger the piece you are framing, the larger the matting around it should be.

Art SizeTypical UseTypical Matting
Up to
5″ x 7″
Small photos,
Instagram prints
1″- 1 1/2″
Up to
8 1/2″ -x11″
Medium phots,
small prints
1 1/2″ – 2″
Up to
11″ x 14″
Large photos,
small posters & prints
2″ – 2 1/2″
Up to
18″ x 24″
posters & prints
2″ – 3″
18″ x 24″
Large and very large
posters & prints
2″ – 5″

Once you are finished designing your frame, use the frame preview to make sure your frame looks perfect to you, even if the matting options don’t agree with what is typically used above.

Matboard Styles: Double Mats

double matted picture frames
Frame featured: Ashford in White with an Art Size of 9 516” x 12 18” and 1″ outer matting in Smooth White (White Core) and 12” inner matting in Smooth White (White Core)

Have a photo to frame, but don’t want to add just one matboard? You might even have tons of color in your photo, and want to pack as much as possible of it into your frame, or maybe it’s a simple piece that you want to add a bit more flair to. Either way, double mats would be the way to go.

Double mats aren’t just one item with the illusion of layering ‚ they are two different matboards stacked on top of one another, cut to the exact dimensions you want to showcase your piece.

With that being said, most customers get less inner mat showing than outer. The outer mat (again, typically around 1 1/2″ to 2″) is often the most pronounced. The inner, though, is often ordered with around 1/4″ of it being visible. We get a lot of orders of 3/8″ visible for inner matting, too, but those are less common.

There are occasions where the inner mat is the more visible one. While this is uncommon, it has worked for people looking for a more unorthodox aesthetic in their frames. Plus, it’s called custom framing for a reason — you’re free to do whatever you want with the frame you design. When it comes to custom framing, there are no real rules!

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Matboard Styles: Small Photo, Large Mat

small photos with large matting
Frames featured: Ashford in Gloss Gold with an Art Size of 1 12” x 3″ and outer matting dimensions 8″ x 10″ in Smooth White (White Core)

Adding a lot of matting often makes for a more contemporary design. These days, some people like to make their matboard larger than the art itself, making the entire frame a striking display piece.

The only thing to note here is that our matboards come in 32″ X 40″ pieces, so at a certain point too much matting might exceed our limits. (We cut the opening of our matboards around the “Art Size” that you enter, and then expand the frame to accommodate the extra space needed for the mat — so if the matboard size that you want to get would expand the frame past 32″ X 40″, we, unfortunately, wouldn’t be able to cut it. Sticking to this method for smaller art and something that’s under 10″ on both the width and height will probably be your best bet!)

For more ideas, check out our post on framing small pieces of art with larger matting.

Matboard Styles: Off-Centered Matting

How to Format Photos for Online Framing and Matting

Creating an off-centered matboard for your photo can give it a whole new look. While this look won’t be achieved by using a “true mat” from our site, you can get this look by creating a digital mat, before uploading your photo to our website. It will take you about 10 minutes to complete and can instantly take your photo or art from wow to WOW!

Once you have created your digital mat, you are able to upload your photo directly to our Frame Designer and design the frame that will display your photo. You then will be able to skip step 3 of adding a matboard, since you have already created one!

Matboard Styles: Oval Matting

photo with white oval matting

In most cases, you won’t need to worry about adding separate matting to your frame order, since we will automatically do the math and figure out the dimensions for you on step 3 of our Frame Designer. However, for some instances, such as ordering a circular mat opening, you will need to take the extra step. Don’t worry though — it will be worth it in the end!

To order this separate matting, you will need to head over to our Matboard page. There, you will be able to input the exact inside and outside measurements that you want your matboard to be. For example, in the photo above the inner dimensions of the matting are 6″ X 8″ and the outer dimensions are 10″ X 12″ with an Oval opening shape. The oval shape isn’t offered on our homepage Frame Designer.

Note: On our home page, we automatically add the neccessary 1/4″ overlap into all our frames and matboards by removing 1/2″ from both the “Width” and “Height” of the “Art Size” that you enter. However, when ordering from our Matboard page, this will not automatically be done. With that being said — if you want a 1/4″ overlap (which we highly recommend), you’ll have to remove 1/2″ from both the “Inside Width” and “Inside Height”.

After designing your matboard, be sure to head back to the Frame Designer and input the outside dimensions of your matboard as your “Art Size” since this is what the frame will go around.

Of course, we understand that this can be confusing, so if you need any help along the way, be sure to reach out to our Support Team who is always standing by to help!

Matting Your Way To Success

gallery wall with large matting
Frames Featured: Ashford in Satin Gold with an Art Size of 5″ x 5″ and 3 34” of matting in Smooth White (White Core)

The best part about custom framing is that you can make your wall art completely yours. With our site, you design your frame from start to finish, the exact way you want it to look in your home.

So let’s recap:

  • If you want something that shows off the whole frame and not just the art, get a matboard that has margins much larger than the piece itself. This looks great if you plan on making a gallery wall with them.
  • Most people get 1 1/2″- 2″ of matting in their frame. If you want to go with the crowd, that would likely be your best bet!
  • Double mats can add an extra bit of color and layering to your display. And there’s no right or wrong way to incorporate it into your frame! Most people get much less inner mat exposed than outer. But this doesn’t mean you have to do that.

We understand that matting can be a difficult subject and you want to get it right. That’s why we’re here to help. If you have any more questions feel free to reach out to our support team and we’ll be more than happy to walk you through the steps!

Matboard Styles: Inspiration

Below are more examples to help you with ideas for framing and matting your own pieces. Picture framing is a learn-as-you-go art in itself, and as we mentioned, there are no rules. Do whatever you think will make the perfect display in your home!

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more daily inspiration!

pinterest graphic

Ready to get creative?

Whether you have a piece of art ready to frame, or you have something for us to print, we've got you covered. Our online custom picture framing perfectly fits not only your art, but your style and budget, too! Use our custom frame designer to create a frame, or browse our suggested frame designs. Happy designing!