Preserving Art – How to picture framing – Part One

This post was written by Eric Martin Schmidt, one of the owner/operators of Art Source & Design in Kansas City.

This is Part One of a two part series on “how to” picture framing. If you are feeling focused, check out Part Two.

Increase enjoyment and lifespan of your artwork, prints or photographs.

Investing in conservation materials is a smart move no matter how you slice it.


  1. What is preservation (or conservation) matting and framing?
  2. What should I look for in a frame shop?
  3. What techniques and materials should be used for mats?


  1. What materials should be used for glazing?
  2. What materials should be used for frames?
  3. What are safe places to hang or store my framed objects?


What is preservation matting and framing?

It is the appropriate housing to display the art well and prolong its life by:

  • Securing the object in a mechanically and chemically stable environment.
  • Minimizing the problems caused by deterioration of the components of the object itself and
  • Reducing environmental factors such as air pollution, and ultraviolet light.

What should I look for in a frame shop?

There is a growing awareness of conservation issues in the field of matting and framing. Indiscriminate use of terms such as “preservation quality” and “archival quality” can be misleading. Your frame shop should be willing to explain how they make a picture frame.

What materials and techniques should be used for mats?

Matting and supporting materials should meet basic guidelines:

  • Mat /mounting board should be acid free.. Yellowing board suggests acid degradation and must be replaced to prevent damage to the object.
  • Board should usually be a minimum of 4-ply. Six and 8-ply boards provide greater support.
  • Keep object from contact glazing materials.  Important for photographs, otherwise they may adhere to glazing. Accomplished with the use of a window mat. If a window mat is not used, spacers must be added along the edges of the glazing.
  • If the piece is considered archival then it should be hinged to the mat board as opposed to permanently mounted on foam core.

You are smart and want more information, ask and you shall receive – here is Part Two. Don’t get too smart.

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