At FRAME USA we work all day with frames and the materials to create them, but I wondered if this little bit of information might shed some light on the importance of using conservation materials to preserve art for years to come.
When framing a picture, you may opt to include a mat board. When using a high quality mat board, it is possible to protect your picture or artwork from being discolored by the acidic properties of a wood frame or from external factors, including the wall the frame is being hung on. The mat is not only a beautiful addition to the framing, it also creates a buffered border that prevents acid from destroying what you are trying to protect.
There are several types of mat boards you can choose to use, the main two being AlphaRag and Paper Mat. Each of these mat boards has specific properties that make them more desirable. AlphaRag is the highest quality mat board you can purchase and is made from cotton. Rag is extremely durable and will stand the test of time by blocking all acid from getting to the picture. The colors available are somewhat limited and the pricing is higher than any other mat board, but it is a fair trade off to have the kind of mat board used to best protect your art. Paper mat boards are the least expensive of all the mat boards, but they also do the least to protect your pictures over time. These boards are treated with a chemical to neutralize the acidity of the wood pulp used to make the mat. The problem is that this buffer will deteriorate over time, and the acidity of the wood will eventually damage the picture by leaving a burn mark on the art that cannot be removed. These mat boards are recommended for temporary framing and should only be used for a period of time.
Spending the little extra money on conservation mats will make it possible to cherish your framed piece for many years to come. Thanks for the read, from one happy framer!