How to Mat a Picture

How to Mat a Picture - Supplies

Wanna mat your new art? Here’s how! It’s fairly easy, you just need to be careful, wear gloves, and stick with pieces 8×10 inches or smaller and leave the bigger stuff to the professionals.

You’ll want to use an archival window mat and backing that at minimum is acid-free, it would be good it if was pH neutral, and even better if it’s cotton because that way acidity doesn’t even come into play. You can get pre-cut mats in standard sizes at many art and craft stores including Michaels. I skip the mat that comes with off-the-shelf frames because most of the time it’s not labelled with archival details and I don’t want to take the chance of it damaging my art.


  • art
  • a pair of clean cotton gloves
  • an appropriately sized window mat
  • a backing board
  • paper hinging tape – make sure this is archival too since it will be in direct contact with your art, I use Filmoplast P90 but you can talk to the nice people at your local art store and see what they recommend

Step 1 – First I attached the window mat to the backing board, I put the backing board face up on the table and the window mat face down on the table above it. I lined up the top edge of my window mat with the top edge of my backing board and stuck them together using hinging tape.

How to Mat a Picture - Mats

It’s a bit hard to see the white tape on the white mat in these photos, but I used a nice long piece of tape that stretched most of the way across the seam.

How to Mat a Picture - Taping

Step 2 – I donned some gloves and started to position my photograph. I put it roughly in the centre of my backing board, flipped the window mat closed, and nudged the photo around until I got it where I wanted it.

How to Mat a Picture - Lining up the Picture

Step 3 – I opened the window without moving the photo. The best way I’ve found is to fold up one of my gloves, put it on my image, then weigh the whole thing down with something small and heavy that doesn’t have any sharp edges that could cause damage, so in this case I used an apple.

How to Mat a Picture - Lining up

I very carefully flipped the window open, keeping my photograph exactly in position on my backing board.

How to Mat a Picture - Position the Picture

Step 4 – I carefully lifted up the top edge of the photograph and put two four inch pieces of tape face up halfway under the print.

How to Mat a Picture - Taping

Step 5 – I put two more four inch pieces of tape horizontally across the first two to stick them down to the backing board. Then, with a glove on, I gently pressed the image into the tape that runs behind it to make sure it’s stuck down good.

How to Mat a Picture - Taping

I removed the apple-weight and glove, flipped the window mat closed, and went on the hunt for a frame.

How to Mat a Picture - Securing the Picture How to Mat a Picture - A matted 5x7

There’s a lot of different ways to mat a photograph but I find this to be the easiest and most archival. If I ever want to put my image in a different mat all I need to do is open the window and use an x-acto knife to cut the tape flush with the top of the print. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

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