Mount up!

Have you ever noticed that most framed “art” is always mounted on some sort of matte board? Here’s an example of what I mean:

The color of the matte does add some nice extra color to the frame, but unless you have a standard-frame-size piece of art, all of that matting can quickly get expensive.

Is matting really necessary? Well, yes, but there is also a savvy budget solution!

Yes, it matters:

Mounting any art or photograph on to a matte protects the surface of the art. When exposed to light and heat (like sunlight), glass will bond to the surface of paper. When you go to remove the art or picture later, it will be stuck to the glass and can tear easily.  Like this:

Image courtesy of

Ouch! That is a lovely, old family photo…ruined.

So, mounting art to a matte board does matter because it protects the life of the image.

However…what if we didn’t frame the original? Could we avoid some of those mounting costs?

Savvy Budget Solution:

Make your scanner or a good color copier your new best friend.

Scan and print or copy your pictures to the size you want. (If you are using a copier, be sure to use the color “photo” setting for the best resolution.)

Now store your original art or photograph safely in an album or art storage box, away from light. If you ever need to replace a copy, the original is safe and sound.

Next, take your great color copy and let’s run an errand. We are going here:

There is an almost-secret area in this store that I am going to show you how to use for your copied art. First, we have to find the custom frame section:

Okay, now we don’t want an actual custom order, but we want to look at the other framing supplies available in this area. So, look around until you find an aisle that looks kinda like this:

Now, go to the end caps at the back of these aisles and you’ll see one that looks a little like this:

This is where all of the rejected custom frames, custom mattes and scrap pieces of expensive matte board go to be sold at clearance prices. Score!

Dig through those racks and look at all the options. You can find a custom cut mattes in great colors at a steal!

$1.25?! I can afford several of these!

But wait, let’s get savvy. We don’t actually have to have a matte for our art, because it is just a great copy. Let’s just get the look of a matte mount for a lot less!

Look at the plain scrap pieces of matte board. Find a color you like and a size that would look like a matte if we put it behind your art.

Now flip over that matte board and look at the price:


Amen to cheap prices. We’ll take it! Now we just need to find the mounting tape. Off to the scrapbooking section of the store for another savvy deal…

Dig around in the glue/tapes/other sticking things bins of the scrapbook section until you find this:

This roll of little square stickers are a photo-safe (meaning the glue won’t eat through the paper) way of mounting art to other paper. You get 500 of these little babies for around $4.

Time to ring up our $5 purchase and go home to frame it all!

When you get home, cut the matte board to the size of frame you will use. Then, just use the sticker squares to mount your art in the center of the matte.

Just to show you how I have used this in my home, here is a color copy of a pretty, sentimental note card card I have mounted on a scrap of matte board:

And here it is in its frame:

Can you even tell the art is mounted on top of the matte board? Not really.

Bonus Points:

Want to add in some more style for little money?

Consider using big sheets of scrapbook paper in place of the matte board. You can find big pads of coordinating scrapbook papers for decent prices.

Most of these pads come with a couple of sheets of each pattern, which would allow you to pull together an easy gallery of matching mattes.

You can also find multiple sizes of these pads, so you only have to buy what you really need.

Looking for something a little more mod? There are some great papers that use photographed images as the paper’s pattern.

How can you use this art mounting technique in your home? A gallery of your children’s art? A framed collection of great vacation photos?  What about a cheaper way to give great photos as gifts? What is your idea?

Posted on May 11, 2011, in Decor, DIY. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Very cool! I’ve been meaning to put some of my old photos in albums for years. But how often do I look through those books? I think it’s a better idea to showcase some of the highlights of my life. Thanks for showing me a better way to do that.

  2. I always love your clever and affordable ideas!
    I have your Blog set as my home page and look forward to reading your next post!

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