Guide to matting, mounting and framing photographs

To mat, mount and frame your photographs you will need to have a few basic tools;
1) backing board, i like to use foamcore board for this
2) glass or Acrylic glass, preferably with a anti reflex / uv protective coating
3) a mat, either self cut or precut bought
4) a frame, i prefer the metal Nielsen frames
5) acid free paper tape
6) adhesive transfer tape, and applicator
7) a screwdriver for assembling the frame
8) optional: a pen and pencil for signing the print / mat
9) optional but recommended: antistatic dust brush
and ofcourse your artwork


Also make sure you have a clean working space with quite a bit of table space,

Clear workspace
The clean workspace

Ok so now with that out of the way, let’s get started.
The artwork we will be mounting is a photograph by myself, from an area
in the Netherlands called the kampina.  It was printed on Canon Fine Art Museum Etching paper
using a Canon Pixma PRO 9500.

The photograph that we will be framing

We start by laying a piece of foamcore board on the table, in my case this
piece was 40x55 cm.  You can either cut the board yourself or buy them precut.
I like to cut everything myself since its more cost effective that way.
Lay your print loosely on it, make it so that you have a nice and even border around it.

Print on board
The print laying on the foamcore board

After this we will overlay the mat on the print, again the mat can be self cut or bought precutted.
If you cut the mat yourself you can use my online mat size calculator to figure out the correct sizes.
Straighten up the print and the mat, so everything lines up nicely.

Straightnend print
Rollover to see the print staightned up

now without touching the print, remove the mat
and make a hinge with the acid free paper tape.
To make the hinge slide the tape under the print sticky side up
and place it about a third or so off center.
Then put a second piece of tape ( sticky side down ) on top of the first
large enough so it also has a nice contact with the backing board.

You can do either two or three depending on the print size.
try not to move the print, as everything is lined up and we would
like to keep it that way.

Rollover to see a drawing of the hinge

If you wish so, now is a good time to sign the print, I use a simple black pen
which contains PH neutral ink.

Signed print
The signed print

After signing the print we apply the adhesive transfer tape on the backing board around the print ( no touching ! )
I like to use the scotch ATG 700 tape gun, coupled with acid free adhesive transfer tape.

Adhesive transfer tape
The adhesive transfer tape applied around the print on the backing board, rollover to see red illustration lines

With the adhesive in place we overlay our mat, do this gently so you can still move the mat around
after you are satisfied with its placement, press firmly down.
At this point i also like to sign the mat, this is best done using a medium hard pencil.

Signed mat
The print, with the mat in place and signed

We can put our print aside for a bit, and start working on the frame.
I use the metal Nielsen model 50 frame. They come with everything you need
to assemble them as well.

The frame package

Assemble the frame but leave 1 side open.

Partitially assembled frame

Now take your piece of glass / acrylic glass.
I like to use PLEXIGLAS Gallery®  UV 100 AR, which is a anti reflex uv protective acrylic glass.
overlay it on the print and slide it in the frame.

Sliding the print in the frame
Sliding the glass / print in the frame

Finish the frame by assembling the final side.

Frame finish
Attatching the final piece of the frame

Put the springs behind the backing board and slide them under the frame.

The position of the springs that hold the artwork

and finally attach the hanging points.

Hanging points
The haning points attatched

Admire your artwork,

Final frame
Finished frame !

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Thank you this has been very helpful
I agree with Alan - very helpful - thank you!
Simple easy to understand from a pro. Thanks. One question, on the matte calculator after the image size have been input - what do the numbers on the top and sides mean?
Mary Tabor-Rhodes
Thank you. I have been trying to mount some photos. Now I see how a pro does it and looks like the results will be better.
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