Pre Cut Matting vs. DIY - Matboard and More

Pre Cut Matting vs. DIY

Many artists prefer to cut their own mats, as opposed to ordering pre cut mats online. If you have had the chance to visit an art show you will see thousands of mats, many of which were cut by the artists themselves. This guide discusses the benefits of buying pre cut matting versus the do it yourself method.

Some of the reasons artists have traditionally cut their own mats are :

  • Local frame shops were too expensive
  • Only standard sizes were available online
  • Difficult to use websites
  • Limited color options
  • Shipping and packaging

Matboard and More® has dedicated itself to eliminating all of these issues through technology, service and operational efficiency. We believe that artists should be able to focus on what they love doing, which is creating beautiful art, not cutting mats.

Equipment is Expensive

In order to cut mats you need a tool to cut the outer edges of the matboard, and a mat cutter to cut the beveled windows. A quality guillotine style paper cutter will be a few hundred dollars, and most likely can only cut one mat a time. There are many models of mat cutters available for purchase ranging from $100 to thousands of dollars. The simple hand cutters are great for a few mats, but for high volumes you need a computerized mat cutter. The do it yourself method can get quite costly if you plan on ordering full matboard sheets of 32×40″ as you’ll need a large format mat cutter. Of course there are other pieces of equipment necessary include blades, a mat cutting sheet, rulers, tape, proper knives etc. The mat cutting equipment can easily cost a few hundred dollars, and likely would be in the thousands if you are going to be doing high volume work.

Mat Cutting Takes Time Away from Your Art

Would you rather be spending your time cutting mattes or working on your craft? The time it takes to cut a mat is dependant greatly on the mat cutter, artists skill level and matboard quality. Mat cutting can take hours out of your day, including time for ordering and keeping track of inventory, setting up and cleaning the equipment, measuring and re-measuring, and of course, the actual cutting. Most artists find mat cutting cumbersome and tedious but feel it is a necessary evil. If you have the right equipment and only cut a few mats, time won’t be as big of an issue. If you need 100, 8×10″ mat boards however, it is extremely time consuming to cut all of them to size (both the outside and the inside). Pre cut mats from Matboard and More® come in any size and color, all you have to do is insert your art.

Pre Cut Mats with Volume Pricing Cost Almost the Same as DIY

Many artists believe that they can save money by cutting their own mats. If the time and cost of equipment is excluded, this is still likely not true. Wholesale mattes are typically purchased in 32×40″ sheets and then cut to size. Of course, Matboard and More® and other online picture matting stores are able to get high quality custom mattes at the lowest prices since we buy in large volumes. This saving is passed on to the artists that order in quantity. For example, if a full sheet costs the typical artist $6-10, and they can make 4, 16×20″ mats from the sheet. It is $1.25/mat. At a quantity of 100, our Berkshire line is only pennies more. This is because our pricing is based primarily on material cost as we have the equipment to cut mattes in large quantities extremely quickly. In the best case scenario, the typical artist may save about 15% using equivalent matboard. Many artists feel that the shipping costs are where they lose the most money, so we have simplified our pricing to offer free shipping on most orders. We take great pride in packaging our materials the best way possible to ensure they arrive safely at your doorstep.

The Quality of our Mattes is the Best

Quality is an area where buying pre cut matting has huge benefits. There is no doubt that with our high end technology and expertise that your mats will come with the highest quality cuts. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to cut mats yourself only to find a dull blade, overcut corners or smudges on the mats.

We Can do Any Size, Color or Shape

Matboard and More® is able to offer any custom size down to 1/16″ tolerance, and we have dozens of colors in each product category. You can use our custom matting page to select any color, size and quality. You can match these to any size picture frame as well. You no longer need to stick to just standard size frames. Our mat cutters also have the capability to do any special designs, ovals, V-Groove and a varety of other customizations not available with hand cutters.

Artistic Integrity Doesn’t Need to be Compromised

Many artists utilize the fact that they cut all their own picture mats as a selling point. It enables the consumer to feel that the item they are buying is 100% fully created by the artist, including the decorative matting. This seems to be particularly true for original art work and fine art where high end conservation picture mats is used. This is a very common sentiment, but the the other side of the coin is that matting is not meant to distract from the art. Some artists believe that the matting is primarily for protection and should be as inconspicuous as possible such that it doesn’t distract from the artists works. Matting is used primarily for a functional purpose as opposed to an artistic purpose. Both sides are valid, and it is a matter of understanding your end customers needs and knowing what is most important to you, complete ownership over the finished product, or a focus on the pure art.

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We sell pre cut mats and custom picture frames in any size, color and quantity. Our products also include custom matting, backing boards, clear bags, show kits, matboard value packs, custom plexiglass.

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