Figuring the best mat size for your art doesn't have to be complicated. Be sure to read all our helpful tips get it right the first time!  

How to Read a Ruler

Figuring the correct measurements is the most important first step. For all the examples in this post, we will be using the imperial measuring system – inches, feet, yards etc. The marks on the ruler vary in length and indicate the different fractional increments. It is important when measuring your art to line it up with the nearest fractional increment for the most accurate dimensions. 

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 Again, the measurements will dictate the cut of the frame or mat, so be precise as possible. It is strongly recommended to use a standard, straight edge ruler as opposed to a flexible measuring tape.

For artworks claiming to be a certain size by the artist, always measure yourself to be absolutely certain.

Measure your Art

Place your art in the orientation you want it displayed, and measure the width and height of your art or photo. 

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Images are either displayed in either portrait or landscape orientation.

Portrait = height is larger than width

Landscape = width is larger than height

The standard format for denoting size is to write the width first then height or WxH. For example, 8x10 indicates a portrait orientation, 10x8 indicates a landscape orientation. 

Paper vs Image Size

Paper Size: the size of the paper of your print

Image Size: the size of the actual image on the paper

Certain pieces of art may feature white space surrounding the actual artwork. It is important to measure both the image size and the paper size to determine the proper opening size for your mat.

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Mat Opening Size

The opening size of the mat should typically be 1/2 - 1/4" smaller than the dimensions of your art. This prevents the art from falling through the cutout and provides an overlap to which the art can be taped or glued. Our standard mats have windows that are 1/2" smaller than the size of the their intended print. 

The mat opening does not have to be smaller when the image size is much smaller than paper size (see previous section about paper vs image size). In this case, the opening should be the size of whatever you want to be displayed.

Example: an 8x10 print = 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 mat opening

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Outer Mat Size

The outside dimensions is the measurement of the outer most edge of the mat board. It should match the size of your frame.

The art size does not need to match frame size if desired. A larger mat and frame can be selected to create a wider mat border, so as long as the actual window is the appropriate size for the image.

Example: 11x14 frame = 11x14 mat

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Mat Border Size

Unless you have a specific look in mind that calls for a narrow or wider mat, a border size of 2 to 4 inches is recommended for medium sized art and 4+ inches for larger artworks. This provides a standard framed look that compliments the artwork.

When figuring mat border size for your image, remember to account for both sides of the mat. 

Frame Size

All frame sizes are listed by their back opening dimensions from the outer edge of the rabbet.

Rabbet = a recess cut in the back for the purpose of holding the frame's contents. It is typically a 1/4" overlap.

The 1/4" overlap is necessary because without it your art would fall through the opening of the frame. It serves as a "grip" to keep the glass, art and backing secure inside the frame.

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If you have any questions or need advice for finding the correct mat for your art, feel free to reach out!