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Framing 101: When to Float, When to Mat

Posted by Dara Segal on Sep 15, 2014

Keeping it simple is our mantra here at Simply Framed. After years of working with frame shops that encouraged us to add more (an Audubon print framed with—not one, not two—but three mats, in grey, pink, and blue), we encourage our clients to use less, letting your art be the star with the added benefit of saving you cash for more art, an iPhone 6, you name it.

That said, keeping it simple isn’t always easy if you aren’t sure what you’re shopping for. Our clients regularly ask us whether floating, matting or framing to the edge (what we call "full-bleed") is best for what they’re trying to frame. We thought we’d break it down and share our best advice with you, below.

Floating

Work on paper by Kerri Rosenthal, floated in our Black Gallery frame.

We call this method of framing "floating" for two reasons. First, we attach your art to an acid-free foam core lift, hidden behind the work but mounted to a supporting white mat. Second, we use a spacer to create space between the plexiglass and the surface of your work. The result is a look that keeps your art "floated" in the center of the frame. The depth that the foam core lift creates adds a slight shadow around your art, drawing extra attention to what makes it special.

We recommend this method when framing:

  • art with an interesting edge or texture
  • original paintings or works on paper
  • anything artifactual (well-loved road maps, handwritten letters, your business’s first dollar bill)

Matting

"Clam Bar by Geoff Reinhard", custom matted in our White Gallery frame.

Most of us are familiar with matting because we’ve been encouraged by previous framers to pile them on (the more mats added, the more money frame shops make). We believe this practice is often distracting and unattractive. We provide just two options for matting: white and off-white. The colors we offer and the simplicity of one mat ensures that your frame design will look just as clean and classic in twenty years as it does now.

We recommend this method when framing:

  • personal photographs
  • small to medium-sized art or photography prints (they deserve the added wall space!)
  • important docs—like a college diploma or...a pie-eating contest certificate?

Framing to the Edge (Full-Bleed)

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Kii Arens" of La-La Land Prints, framed full-bleed in our Black Gallery frame.

Framing to the edge is pretty much exactly like it sounds. Instead of floating or matting, we frame directly around your art, letting the art "bleed" under the frame. The result is a look that's as handsome and straightforward as it gets.

We recommend this method when framing:

  • posters of the concert, movie or travel variety. Startup posters are good too.
  • oversized photographs or art prints
  • images that already have a large border

Of course, if you're looking for any additional advice, our team is always available to guide you through the framing process. Just shoot us an email and we will help you select a frame style that's best for your framing project.

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