VISIT MY"Collectibles" and "Affordable Art"e-STORE (KowerskiGallery):

Check out the many Specials I'm offering on collectibles, small framed art, as well asposters, Limited Edition and open edition prints and DIY framing materials such as Acid Free and Regular matboard, blanks or custom cut to your specifications, stock sizes or custom cut Acid Free or Regular foamboard blanks that you can use for craft projects, framing, or just use your imagination. There'sa little something for everyone. So if you need to purchase a quick gift or are a do-it-youself framer, artist, or crafter you'll be glad you clicked on this link. I will also be offering some collectable items through this e-store so please check it out. Thank you.



Art Conservators, Art Appraisers & Art related services:

Preserving artwork is everybody's responsibility. Beginning with the artist when choosing the media and techniques to be used to create the piece, next the framer who must use only non-altering materials and techniques when framing the artwork and finally theowner who must store and display the piece in a suitable environment.

What happens when something fails in the above equation? A specialist called a Conservator must be called in to repair the damage. AConservator has extensive training and specific expertise in the preservation of cultural property.

The American Institutefor Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC)has a website loaded with information about how to care for your artwork and how to find a Conservator in your area when you need one. (Use thelink belowto find a Conservator, an Appraiser, or other related art service providers).



The "Professional Picture Framers Association", or PPFA, is the international trade association for the art and framing industry. The purpose of developing such an association was to "promote the picture framing industry and to benefit its members through educational and informational programs." PPFA serves the art and framing industry by providing opportunities for communication, consumer marketing, education, and conventions. (To learn more about the PPFA use the link below).



Types of matboards?..... Which oneshould I use?........What's the Difference?

Here's what the Crescent Cardboard Company, one of the top matboard manufacturers,has to say about the subject.

Quality Matboard

What's the Difference?

Matboard Comparison Chart
Crescent Decorative (Regular) Matboard
Made of wood pulp paper neutralized with calcium carbonate to dramatically slow the potential damage caused by lignin breakdown and acid contamination. Cream colored cores.
Read More.

Decorative Matboard
Intended for
  • Decorative framing and general presentation
  • Open end reproductions
  • Posters and decorative art
  • Unsigned, easily reproduceable photographic prints
Crescent Rag Matboard
Core and backing paper made of acid-free, lignin-free cotton. Wood pulp face paper neutralized with calcium carbonate to dramatically slow the potential damage caused by lignin breakdown and acid contamination. Bleached white cores (except Antiquarians).
Read More

Intended for
  • Valuable works of original art
  • Fine art prints, limited editions
  • Heirloom needleart
  • Signed, difficult to reproduce photography
Crescent Museum Rag 100
100% acid and lignin free. Core, backing paper and face paper made of acid-free, lignin-free cotton. Bleached white cores. Top of the line.
Read More

Back to Main Matboard Page
Intended for
  • Rare and antique documents
  • Items of historical importance

Framing Insights
Getting to Know the Different
Types of Matboard

Having a problem deciding what type of matboard to use? Well, you're not alone. Today's framer is faced with a staggering range of choices in matboard. Understanding how we got to this point, can cast a revealing light.

When you buy a sheet of matboard today you are faced with a dizzying array of choices. Should you buy Regular Matboard or should it be Rag Mat? Should it be acid free or acid neutralized? Should it have a cream core or a white core? And the surface paper, should it be textured or smooth, pebbled or glossy? So many choices and so little time. The average person is hard pressed to digest it all. Well, we're here to help.

To understand what's available in matboard today, it helps to understand the progression that led to this avalanche of choices. So let's go back and see how we got to where we are today.

As it turns out, America's leading manufacturer of matboard didn't start out making matboard at all. Crescent Cardboard was just that, a cardboard company, and their stock in trade was signboard. The light 4 and 8 ply board they manufactured was perfect for making quick, easy signs, and the 32"x40" size they sold was economical, yielding four 16"x20" signs, or sixteen 8"x10" signs without waste.

After the second world war, as America prospered, the fledgling picture framing industry went in search of a low priced alternative to the dense, hard-to-work railroad board used in traditional European matting. Crescent and its signboard seemed perfect. But from the start there were obstacles.

First, signboard was available mostly in white or offwhite. In order to approximate the decorative flexibility of European matting, where the board is wrapped with colored paper or fabric to conceal the ugly gray core board underneath, Crescent's board would have to be made available in different colors. But a dearth of colors wasn't the only obstacle. Signboard was constituted of several laminates (or plies) of wood-based paper. Unfortunately, paper made from wood pulp is not long lasting.

Ah, but artwork is supposed to be long lasting and the framing that surrounds it, if it cannot enhance its longevity, at least ought not to detract from it. But wood-based paper is informed with a binding polymer called lignin. Lignin is the stuff that actually holds wood together. In direct sunlight and high humidity, and given enough time, lignin can break down, producing acid, which can seep or migrate out of the product it is in, and pass into any other product it is contact with. At the point of contact a brownish hazy affect can occur, what's called "acid burn". To make matters worse, acid burn is a stain that cannot be removed and which signals the beginning of an ever worsening deterioration.

To the utter chagrin of professional framers in the 1960's and 70's, the potential of matboard to have this affect was confirmed. The reason it had not seemed such a big problem at first is that acid burn (or acid contamination, as its sometimes called) is a process that can take between fifteen and twenty-five years to manifest itself. So, suddenly, in the late 1960's professional framers were confronted by angry customers demanding to know what had been done to their artwork fifteen or twenty years earlier.

While the matboard manufactures went to work on the problem, they advised picture framers to safeguard artwork by providing barriers between the acid bearing constituents and the artwork. Any cotton based paper would do, since cotton contains little or no lignin. Such papers came to be referred to as barrier papers, and the practice of inserting barriers between lignin bearing materials and artwork came to be known as conservation framing.

But matboard companies didn't leave it at that. They went to work developing an alternative matboard, one in which the core of the board would be made of cotton rather than a wood-based paper. The first cotton core matboard was made by Crescent and was actually manufactured from recycled cotton rags, which is how it got its name, Rag Mat.

Using Rag Mat, framers could return to placing the mat in direct contact with the artwork and forego the time consuming practice of cutting and placing barrier papers between the mat and the artwork. Yet the cat was out of the bag, so to speak. The horror of finding professionally framed artwork ruined after years of hanging innocently on the walls, had made many framer's gun shy. Particularly those with the most to lose, such as museums or those framing expensive original art.

It was pointed out that the problem with acid was not just that it seeped into that which it was in direct contact with, but that, when it did so, it could contaminate that item to the extent that the item itself became a threat to whatever it was in contact with. In other words, acid could migrate from item to item, and given enough time, work through barriers.

The matboard manufacturers quite reasonably pointed out that such migration through barriers could take well over a hundred years, but the museums were still concerned. After all, their artwork needed to be protected for many hundreds of years. Also, they pointed out, Rag Mat was not strictly speaking, 100% lignin free. While the core board and backing were indeed made of cotton and thus acid and lignin free, the face papers that were laminated onto the core to give the board its color and texture were the same wood-based face papers used in regular matboard. Couldn't, therefore, acid migrate out of the face paper, contaminate the core and eventually become a threat to the artwork?

The matboard manufacturers agreed that this was possible, albeit highly unlikey, and took measures to address it. By putting the wood-based face papers through a bath of calcium-carbonate, they were able to balance the pH rendering the acid content in the face papers "neutralized". In other words, the face papers still contained acid, but the acid could do no harm, or at least not until acids floating freely in the air assaulted the matboard for such a prolonged period that the pH became unbalanced, favoring the acid again. This, they pointed out, could take a century or more.

Yet many museums were still unsatisfied. What they wanted was a matboard that was 100% lignin and acid-free through and through. Moreover, they wanted the lignin-free, acid-free matboard neutralized to protect against free floating acid in the air. The matboard companies obliged, coming up with a new product for the ultimate in protection, the aptly named Museum Board. Or, as Crescent calls it, Museum Rag 100 - meaning 100% protection.

At about the same time the matboard manufacturers took measures to end the nightmare of acid contamination resulting from use of their regular wood-based matboard. Beginning in the mid-1980's they began putting all of their matboard through a neutralizing process, rendering the acid content harmless for a period of perhaps as long as a hundred years.

The acid problem which had afflicted matboard manufacturers since the industry's inception had at last been thoroughly addressed and three distinct types of matboard had emerged: Regular Matboard (called Decorative Matboard by Crescent), Rag Matboard, and Museum Rag 100. On our website, both Rag Matboard and Museum Rag 100 are found on the Rag Mat pages.

While Museum Rag 100 is largely limited to whites, blacks and neutral tones (with a few colors salted in), the Regular and Rag Mat lines are offered in a full range of more than 200 colors. Approximately 50% of the colors are the same in the two lines, with 50% being unique to whichever line you're considering.


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