Our Frame of Mind

A collection of tips, framing techniques and artist insights.
White mat boards come in a variety of shades with different archival properties

Choosing the Right White

From Porcelain to Pure, Frost, Ice, Igloo and every tint of white in between, there’s an entire palette of white hues to explore when choosing a mat board for your custom framing project. White may be the most popular shade of matting, but any artist or color professional will tell you that there’s nothing basic about this neutral shade. In fact, variations of white are both numerous and wide-ranging. There’s more to white than what you may see at first glance.

So, what really matters when it comes to distinguishing your whites, and how do you choose the right one? Here are some helpful considerations to keep in mind as you choose the ideal shade to complement your framed work.

Cool Whites Versus Warm Whites

Whether the colors in your artwork or photography exude a cool or warm feel, you’ll want to choose a mat board in a similarly toned shade of white:

  • Cool hues are best matched with cooler tones of white, such as those with whispers of blue, purple or green. Cool white mat boards make a great complement to clear  and deeply saturated colors, lending a clean look to any design while offering a sharp contrast between the mat and the art. Black and white photographs, floral art and artwork with heavy or bright colors tend to look best with cooler, bright white mat boards.
  • Warm hues pair well with whites that reflect warm undertones, like those with hints of pink, orange, red and yellow. Sepia-toned photos, beach and autumn scenes, or any images with strong yellow undertones usually call for a mat board in warmer off-white or creamy white.

Smooth Whites Versus Textured Whites

Mat boards can also have variations in surface texture that impact which temperature of white is just right for your framing project. For instance:

  • Smooth white mat boards contain no texturization, and these portray more of a silky or shiny appearance. The majority of white mat boards at American Frame fall into the smooth category.
  • Slightly textured mat boards in the white color range are characterized by a very subtle surface pattern. Slight textures can add additional warmth to the framed work without altering the specific tone of white. They can also help soften the transition between the work and the mat board when desired.
  • Heavily textured white mat boards add another layer of visual interest and distinction to the overall piece. For framing treatments with extra character, a heavily textured mat board in white can help to distinguish the piece even while maintaining the neutrality of the board’s color. 

Core Considerations

With regard to mat boards, the term “core” refers to the inside of the board. It is the area, or core, that is revealed with a bevel cut—a 45-degree cut at the inside edge of a mat board window. It exposes about 1/16 inch of the mat board core on a 4-ply mat board (and even more on 6- and 8-ply mat boards).

The color of a white mat board’s core can be white, black, cream or continuous (which means the exact same color as the mat board itself). The color of the paper being framed should be a factor in choosing not only the color of the mat board, but also the color of its core.

White Mat Board Comparison Chart

Below, we’ve listed out our entire selection of white mat boards, including the tone from cool to warm, texture and core characteristics of each one. This insight can help you narrow down your choice of whites that may work best for your framing project.

General Purpose

Cool    E4709 Extreme White, white core, smooth
Warm E4754 Porcelain, white core, slight texture    


Cool   CS9613 Super White, white core, smooth
            8260 Ice White, white core, smooth 
            CS9902 White Art, black core, smooth
            8463 Spanish White, white core, smooth
            8463.6 Spanish White 6 Ply, white core, smooth 
            8740.8 White 8 Ply, continuous core, smooth
            8466 Frost, white core, slight texture
            8465 Igloo, white core, smooth
            8465.6 Igloo 6 ply, white core, smooth
            8464 Matte White, white core, smooth
            8559.6 Photo White 6 Ply, white core, smooth
            8486 Arabian White, white core, slight texture
Warm CS5632 Warm White, white core, heavy texture

Conservation Museum Rag

Cool     907-4 Perfect White, continuous core, smooth
             907-8 Perfect White 8 Ply, continuous core, smooth
             8655 Pure White, continuous core, smooth
             8653.8 Pure White 8 Ply, continuous core, smooth
             8660.8 White 8 Ply, continuous core, smooth
             900-4 White, continuous core, smooth
Warm  900-8 White 8 Ply, continuous core, smooth

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection to a few possibilities, we recommend ordering samples so you can see and experience the true mat color firsthand. We offer up to five free samples, or you can purchase an entire set.

Of course, we’re always here to help. So if you need more assistance choosing the right shade of white for your mat board, reach out to our in-house framing experts.


August 10, 2022
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