framing 4 yourself

3 Do-It-Yourself Framing Supplies Every Custom Picture Frame Needs

Finding the perfect picture frame moulding is the first step. The next step when working on a custom project is choosing the right acrylic and matting to help protect your artwork while enhancing the look of your frame. Think of them as the finishing touches, the cherry on top of all the hard work you’ve put into building your custom project.

There’s a wide variety of options ranging from colorful mat boards to UV acrylic glass that prevent your photos, prints, and art from fading or turning yellow over time. There’s minimal skill required when inserting mat board, foam board, or acrylic.

Framing 4 Yourself has a quick guide to finding the right accessories for your custom picture frame to preserve and enhance your art, prints, or photographs.

Mat Boards

You probably already have mat boards around your house without knowing what to call them. 

Mat boards are a paper or cotton based material that slides between your artwork and the acrylic of your frame or is used as a colorful background to float your artwork. Most commonly colored white, mat boards can take a standard picture frame and turn your artwork into a gallery piece.

What are mat boards used for?

Mat boards serve two purposes:

  1. 1. When placed on mat boards, your artwork, photos, and sketches are protected from shifting or warping.
  2. 2. With mat boards, your art will look museum-quality, enhancing the beauty of any project.

Including a mat board increases the air circulation between the artwork and your frame, preventing moisture from being trapped inside. Moisture turns to mildew or mold, eventually destroying your art, prints, or photographs.

Some mat boards are fade-resistant and acid free
for preservation quality protection.

The barrier created by mat board also prevents shifting or warping, partly because of the increased air circulation and partly because your artwork will be protected from sticking to the acrylic in your frame.

The key aesthetic purpose of the mat board is to add a museum-quality look to any custom picture frame. By providing a clean border around your photos, art, or prints, you accentuate the pieces and add necessary texture.

What are the different types of mat boards?

There are three types of mat boards: decorative, conservation, and museum quality.

For beginners, decorative mat boards are your best option as they are simple, easy to use, and practical.

Decorative mat boards are perfect for posters, decorative art, promotions, events, art prints, and other everyday projects. These are typically paper mat boards that are relatively inexpensive to add to your project.  

Conservation mat boards are a mid-tier board to help preserve your pieces. These boards are acid-free; thereby making them the perfect solution for preserving original work, fine art prints, diplomas, certificates and other valuable artwork in your home. They are made of a white core and backing and are fade and bleed resistant. 

The highest protective level is the museum-quality mat board. Unlike the other types, museum-quality boards are made from 4 ply cotton-based rag and are acid free and lignin free; they are also fade and bleed resistant offering years of protection for your artwork. Museum-quality mat boards are typically used with valuable, archived, or displayed-indefinitely or irreplaceable art pieces.

Foam Boards

Framers prefer lightweight, custom foam board sheets for mounting and backing artwork.

What are foam boards used for?

Professional artists and framers use foam boards to protect their artwork, photos, and prints from warping. These thicker boards provide support and protection for your most precious memories.

In addition to mounting photographs and pictures, foam boards can be used for models by architects and home designers.

What are the different types of foam boards?

There are four types of foam boards: standard, acid-free, self-adhesive, and black on black foam boards.

Regular foam boards are the most economical solution of foam board. This type of board is ideal for protecting easily reproducible art such as posters, digital prints, or open-ended editions.

Acid-free foam boards conserve and protect any art or photography for which the maintenance of long-term value is a goal.

Self-adhesive foam boards are permanent, making them the right choice for easily reproducible artwork (posters, digital prints, open-ended editions, etc.).

Black-on-black foam boards are best used when framing quickly reproducible art such as posters, digital prints, or open-ended additions. Black-on-black foam boards are also good for mounting newspapers and magazine articles so you don’t see the words on the opposite side.


Acrylic is a lightweight, shatter resistant substitute for glass. For this reason, acrylic is the first choice of many framers.

The type of acrylic you choose for your custom picture frame directly impacts the longevity and protection of your art pieces. Different options protect your art, photos, and prints from temperature changes and moisture, while others protect against UV radiation. 

Before purchasing acrylic, consider where you are hanging your artwork, as that affects how much sunlight or moisture your pieces experience.

What is acrylic used for?

Acrylic provides the same visual clarity as glass but with additional protections to keep your precious art pieces looking great for a long time.

Favored for its lightweight and shatter resistance, acrylic is safer to work with and less prone to breakage.

The primary purpose of acrylic is to protect artwork, photography, and prints from various environmental factors, including temperature changes, moisture, pollutants, and touching.

Another benefit of acrylic is its less susceptible to breakage during shipping or handling due to its shatter resistance. 

What are the different types of acrylic?

There are three types of acrylic: clear acrylic, non-glare acrylic, and UV-protective acrylic.

Clear acrylic looks just like regular glass but is lighter and shatter-resistant. Simple, clear acrylic is a great option for framing art that can easily be reproduced, prints, or digital photographs. Clear acrylic is the most economical way to contain your art within a frame as it does not protect against UV rays.

Non-glare acrylic offers all of the benefits of clear acrylic but eliminates glare by dispersing the light with a special coating. If you have artwork that will be hung in a place where light will hit the artwork, non-glare acrylic will help to soften the glare. Please note that non-glare acrylic is not as protective against sunlight as UV-protective acrylic and can have a foggy appearance to it.

UV-protective acrylic provides extra protection for your artwork. Don’t worry about fading or yellowing, as the UV protection keeps your original art, limited prints, or signed prints safe from sunlight damage. The UV-protective acrylic carried by Framing 4 Yourself is 99% effective at preventing sun damage, but is not non-glare. Optium Museum Acrylic, which protects against UV damage and is non-glare, is available, but is costly. If you need this type of acrylic, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Looking for Framing Accessories?

Framing 4 Yourself has everything you need for your custom framing project. From a wide range of wood and metal picture frame mouldings in lengths to all the additional materials to keep your art safe from moisture and sunlight, we are your one-stop shop for all things custom framing.

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