The Basics of Mat Selection

multiple colored picture mat boards

Mat selection might seem like an easy or even inconsequential choice to make, but the mat you choose will have an enormous impact on the content and overall presentation of the piece. Whether the setting is commercial or residential, your artwork and photography will set the mood and provide a sense of atmosphere for the space. It’s just as important as the furniture you choose or the color of paint on the walls. Although this may come as a surprise, framing is equally as important as the artwork itself, and a major part of framing includes the matting process.

Think about why you might hang a family photo, a painting a close friend made for you, or a bright collage for waiting patients in your medical practice. At the end of the day, you want to display it with care because it is meaningful to you and those who frequent your business. Mat selection is a part of that careful presentation.


You may prefer a minimalist look, but remember that mats don’t only come in black or white!  Choosing a colorful mat can add a pop of color to your artwork and make it stand out as an integral part of the room’s design. Color can completely alter the mood, or serve to intensify an existing aura. Take a close look at the piece of artwork you want to hang; is there a color there that could be brought to the forefront? What is the overall impression of the work? If you’re hanging a painting of an autumn scene, you may want to use warm tones to compliment the feel of the picture. You can also choose multiple colors: try framing the edges of the photo with a lighter color, then picking a darker color for the larger mat to further emphasize the image.


When it comes to mat selection, sizing is everything. Usually, mats are 2-4 inches wide, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. An oversized mat will give more gravity and an air of sophistication to smaller works of art, and larger artworks look especially balanced with an equally substantial mat. It all depends on how you want the final product to look. If you are composing a gallery wall, different mat sizes will add more variety to the room. In some instances, a small mat may be preferable if you want to place absolute focus on the artwork itself. The options are endless. That’s the beauty of custom framing!

Single or Double   

Single-matted artwork tends to appear more simplistic, whereas double-matted artwork is all about depth and enhancement. Both can look elegant when done correctly, but the choice hinges on what tone you are going for. In a gallery show, single-matted artwork may be the right choice because ideally, nothing should take away from the details of the work. Double-matted artwork, on the other hand, uses accent colors and an added sense of dimension to achieve unity. This might work better for a commercial environment like a hotel, for instance, because you want the artwork to add to the space and engage customers without distracting them from the products and services you offer. Mat selection is all about setting.

The Chessler Company Can Help with Mat Selection! 

Family-owned and operated since 1959, Chessler Company specializes in crafting high-quality frames as well as providing professional custom framing and installation services to both residential and commercial spaces. When it comes to mat selection and making a choice that fully represents your brand, we are here to help! Learn more and contact us today to let our experts assist you!