All About Mats and Liners

One way to add to the overall visual impact of a framed photograph or artwork is to use mats and/or liners. Mats and liners give your framed item a sophisticated and polished look. They also provide a separator that softly transitions from the frame to the image.

Mat vs. Liner

Purpose. Liners and mats serve basically the same purpose. They serve to add depth and texture to the framed item. However, liners are more commonly used in fabric art and paintings while mats are more commonly used for framing photographs. However, the difference is that the matting is placed over the photograph while with a liner, the artwork sits inside it. The liner is then inserted onto the picture frame. This way, the liner allows the artwork to be framed without the need for glazing.

Mats also work to keep the photograph firmly in place, preventing it from getting creased, which can happen when the paper expands and contracts, depending on the weather. In the same way, the liners add to the structural support mechanism that keeps the painting securely in place.

Matting will usually come with beveled inner edges, to add a thin inner strip to add to the look of the matting. Meanwhile, liners come in varying molding heights and widths, in the same way that frames have varying heights and widths in the molding. The molding can also feature slopes or curves, as well as molding designs.

Materials. Mats are made from cardstock or thick paper while liners are made of wood, which may then be wrapped with linen or canvas. Liners are cut very similarly to the molding of a picture frame. These also have a lip on one side. Liners may feature gold or silver plated lips, metal covered lips or painted lips.

Choosing mats and liners

When selecting a matting board or liner to frame your artwork, photograph or document, you should consider how well the mat or liner complements the overall look of the frame. The color should serve to draw the viewer’s eye towards the painting, rather than detract from it. The choice of color can either make the framed item look expansive or make it look small.

When making your choice, keep conservation in mind. The matting should ideally be acid-free or lignin-free to minimize the possibility of damage caused by acid burn.

Installing mats and liners

Precision is more important for liners – since these have to fit snugly into the frame. You need to make sure that the inside dimensions of the frame and the outside dimensions of the liner should closely match. It should also correspond to the size of the artwork. To start, add the width of the artwork to twice the width of the liner. Then, subtract two times the width of the lip. Do the same for the length of the artwork. The resulting dimensions will represent the dimensions of the liner, which will then be fitted into the inner area of the frame.

Mat boards are more versatile, since it does not only work for rectangular or square picture frames. You can also add a level of matting for round and oval picture frames. You can also add more than one layer of matting, to provide a frame within a frame effect. There are also v-cut mat boards, where the middle of the matting width is divided by a beveled V-shape, adding another illusion that there are two matting layers rather than one.

30th Jun 2016 Eric Morgan

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