Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sophistication, Presence, Drama: Try the 8-Ply Mat Board

You make many choices when putting together the framing concepts for your original art. Your artwork is meaningful to you, and we want to help you get every detail just right. Selecting a frame has its own list of variables to choose from, but we’ve found that artists tend to find themselves most confused when it comes to choosing a mat board.

To guide you through your options, we will cover the qualities, effects, and applications of the mat board of choice for most veteran framers: the eight-ply mat board.

What is an eight-ply mat board?

The word “ply” refers to the number of layers of material used to make a mat; an eight-ply mat board is one of the thickest options for DIY framing. At American Frame, the material is constructed from either 100% cotton or treated Alpha Cellulose.

Great American Art suggests eight ply for professional artists because it is rigid (at double the normal thickness), acid-free, lignin-free, alkaline-pH buffered, and resistant to bleeding and fading.

What are the benefits of an eight-ply mat board?

The eight-ply mat board is all about drama. Its 45-degree bevels, approximately three-sixteenths of an inch wide, accent the extra-thick core, making this mat board ideal for pieces that benefit from bold and enigmatic displays.

From a functional perspective, eight ply is constructed for conservation of your work, relieving you of concerns about fading, bleeding, and other types of material degradation. It also provides a solid base for custom framing in larger works of art.

When should you use an eight-ply mat board?

Because of its optimal archival protection, Great American Art recommends eight ply for rare, antique, and historical works of art and paper documentation. It is also the option of choice for watercolor paintings in art galleries and museums.

Visual comparison of a four-ply mat (top)
 to an eight-ply mat (bottom)
The thickness of the material tends to take up a significant amount of space in the frame channel (or rabbet), so you should consider using it as a single mat board. It typically can’t be layered like six- or four-ply mat boards can. If a solid, dramatic, polished look is your goal, eight ply may be the best choice.

Also, keep in mind that with a thicker mat board, you’ll need to calculate your measurements correctly. The thickness of the mat board needs to be added to the thickness of your artwork, acrylic glazing, and mounting board, then measured against your frame’s channel.

Visit us online to look at our current sale on our varieties of eight-ply mat boards! We carry five AlphaRag eight-ply mat boards and two in the AlphaEssentials collection. We offer free samples to help you properly prep for your next DIY custom-framing project. Contact us at (800) 537-0944 or for more information!

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.


  1. 8 plys are my favorite. Nothing looks more professional!

  2. Love how it gives depth and draws the eye in with the thicker mat board.

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