How to Float Art On a Mat

In this post, we focus on how to assemble a treatment with floating artwork.

When your order arrives, carefully unpackage the contents of the box and look for the piece of uncut mat board. (Hint: It’s packaged between two pieces of cardboard for protection).

Carefully center the artwork on the mat board, measuring with a clean ruler or yardstick for precision, then weigh the art down to keep it in place. We recommend something that is very clean, such as a new plastic sandwich bag filled with rice or dry beans. Make sure the weight isn’t so heavy that it will wrinkle or dent delicate paper art. Then, place 2 Post-it notes at each corner, at the top and side edge of the art to mark its placement. (See photo below for example.) Now, lay the art aside temporarily in a clean, out of the way spot.

The next step is applying linen tape to the mat in what’s called a “t-hinge” style. Near the top edge of where you’ll be putting the art on the mat, apply two pieces of tape, pressing down the bottom half and folding the top half of the tape over so that the sticky side is facing up. Now carefully position your art to align with the Post-it notes you placed at the top and press it so the tape adheres. Next, flip the artwork up and away from the mat board by its hinge and prepare t-hinges for each of the two sides. At this point your mat and artwork should look something like this:

t-hinges created with linen tapecompleted floated piece of art

Now, lay your artwork down and adhere it to the side tape hinges. Next, place the mat board on top of the mounting board and lay aside the “stack” of art, mat and board. Then, peel the protective paper from one side of the acrylic. Use this method for easy peeling.

We recommend using spacers when floating artwork because spacers will prevent the acrylic from touching the artwork directly, which can cause damage over time.

If using a metal frame, attach the spacers to each side of the acrylic before putting the acrylic in the metal track. Tip: make sure the spacers are adhered to the very edge of the acrylic or else they will be visible when framed.

If using a wood frame, put the acrylic into the back of the frame first and then attach the spacers to the acrylic while butting them up to the frame.

Carefully add the artwork and mounting board and secure the artwork in place with a point driver (wood frames only) or the provided spring clips.

Floating artwork on top of a mat is the ideal solution when it’s critical that the very edge of the artwork not be covered by the mat window’s normal overlap, but it’s also a fun, modern way to showcase just about any art on paper. We encourage you to try it out and send us some snapshots of the results.

AubreyK | 3/18/2015 9:17:44 AM | 6 comments
American Frame
Hi Sandy,

Thanks for your question! You might find this video helpful to learn about installing spacers within a framing treatment:

As for choosing color, it's mostly a personal preference, however we usually recommend using black spacers when using a black or dark colored frame. If you have any other questions, please let us know!
9/4/2015 4:32:47 PM

Could you talk about spacers... Choosing color,size. Does it go all around the inside? Thanks
8/25/2015 8:48:04 PM

American Frame
Double sided tape could work, although it's not recommended. It wouldn't be easily removable and can cause damage to the artwork.
3/19/2015 1:34:42 PM

Really appreciate the detaile instructions, with pictures. It makes it so easy to follow.
3/19/2015 12:46:33 PM

Good technique for and item you’d like to preserve.
3/19/2015 12:10:20 PM

Looks like double sided tape would be easier. Would you recommend using that instead?
3/19/2015 9:51:01 AM

About this blog

Mike Cromly
So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, with custom frame shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35+ years with the company. A natural teacher, he loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there. Working in the plant and improving our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man and Ohio State Buckeye fan. Mike's Twitter
For more tutorials and articles, take a look at our other blogs - A Good Frame of Mind or At Your Service

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