Mat Measuring

How to Determine Mat Margins

Determining what size mat margin to use is a question that comes up often in framing.  While there are no hard and fast rules, there are guidelines that will help you figure out what size frame and mat you will need:

  • When we talk about mat margins, we mean the border on each side of your picture.  If you have a frame that is 8x10 and you want a 2" mat, your opening will be 4x6.  That is because you need to subtract 2" from each side.

  •  One inch is the minimum margin. We do not recommend margins this small on any frame larger than 6x6. You can do it on bigger frames, but it will look cramped. The current trend in matting is for a larger margin. A three or four inch margin is not unheard of for pictures as small as 8x10

  • When you order a conservation mat (either single or double) we will cut the opening to exactly what you specify.  If you have a photo that is 4x6, you will want an opening of 3 3/4 x 5 3/4 or better yet a 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 opening. If you are not going to crop your image the slightly smaller opening makes attaching your picture easier. 

If you ever have a question about what size frame or mat to use, feel free to give us a call at 888-292-2323 or email at We have been in the picture framing business for a long time and are really good at helping you visualize what will look best for your project.