## Where a Mat Really Makes a Difference

Ready made frames are pre-assembled frames and since they are already put together they are only available in the most popular standard sizes, usually 11"x14", 16"x20", 18"x24", 20"x24" and 24"x30".

So what do you do when the art you want to frame doesn't match one of these sizes?

This is where a mat can be your friend.  By using a window mat you can adjust the size of your art so it fits into a standard size frame.  Here's how it works.

Let's say you art is 19" x 22" and you want to use a ready made frame.  Using a mat, you could squeeze it into a 20" x 24" but that would result in one inch wide mat borders, which are too narrow and would look amateurish.  These days having wider mat borders is all the rage so a better option would be to go with a 24"x30" for your 19"x22" art.

To determine the measurements of the mat, take the narrow dimension of the art and subtract it from the narrow dimension of the frame.  In this case, subtract 19" from 24".  The difference is 5".

Now acknowledge the fact that there must be two mat borders on each dimension.  So, for example, the width dimension of the mat will have a border on either side of the window.  So take the 5" and divide it in half.  5 ÷ 2 = 2-½".

Your mat will have 2-½" borders on either side of the window on the narrow dimension.

Next take the long dimension of the art and subtract it from the long dimension of the frame.  In this case, subtract 22" from 30".  The difference is 8".  Then divide it in half.
8 ÷ 2 = 4".

Your mat will have 4" borders on either side of the window on the long dimension.

The overall size of your mat will always be the same size as the overall size of the frame you intend to put it in.  So since the frame here is 24"x30", the overallsize of the mat will also be 24"x30".

Now you have all the measurements of your mat: the overall size plus the sizes of the borders on each side of your mat's window.  But there's one more thing you should do before you begin cutting.

Make your mat borders slightly wider.  This is necessary because otherwise the window will be the same size as the art, and there will be no overlap of the mat onto the edges of the art to support it.  To get the necessary overlap add 1/4" to each of your four mat borders.

So you will have borders on the narrow dimension of 2-½" + ¼" = 2-¾"

And borders on the long dimension of 4" + ¼" = 4-¼"

Here's the bottom line.  If you cut a mat with an overall size of 24"x30", and you cut borders on the narrow dimension of 2-¾" and borders on the long dimension of 4-¼", you will be able to frame a 22"x24" in a ready made 24"x30" frame.