February 17th, 2011

A Surefire Way to Choose the Right Matting for Your Custom Family Tree Project

Continuing with our blog post series that talk about how to make your own high quality framed family tree chart, we’re going to take some time to discuss a really important step in the process.  The type of backing or matting that you use for your family tree project is absolutely crucial to the overall success of this project.

For those of you that may have missed the previous posts, we’ve previous discussed the types of paper that should be used for a high quality family tree chart along with the type of ink that will not fade over a period of time. If this project is important to you, I’d give those posts a quick read as well.

The 5 Main Reasons for Picking a High Quality Matting

- A nice matting enhances the appearance of your family tree to make it look like a high quality piece of art.

- Properly chosen matting can actually draw the person’s eyes towards the artwork and highlight the family tree itself.

- A high quality mat lets you add your own “flavour” to tree chart art piece.  This personalizes the piece even more.

- High quality matting is much more resilient to the earth’s elements and won’t degrade as much over a period of time.

- The average height of a typical high quality matting is around 1/16th of an inch tick; the height of the matting actually helps to separate your art piece from the glass that will cover it.  Over time, art pieces that come in contact with the glass tend to stick together. This would ruin your family tree template.

Two Types of Mat Material

Generally speaking, just like with paper, there are two types of mat material; acidic and acid-free.  It’s absolutely imperative that you demand that your framer/printing service uses an acid-free paper and acid-free matting.  As previously mentioned in my paper selection post, lingin-free paper is far more robust and not as susceptible to the elements of humidity and UV light.  I personally believe that another advantage to acid-free matting is that if your family in future decides to change the matting, you’re almost guaranteed that the piece can be disassembled without any pieces sticking together avoiding damage to your tree template.

Acid-Free Mat Boards

Depending on who you speak to, you’re probably going to get a lot of opinions about the type of matting that you should use for your family tree.  Let me give you my personal opinion; if the family tree is important to you, (which it should be if you’re going through the exercise of framing it) spend the extra money and purchase a museum board quality mat.  What’s the point of framing a family tree if it doesn’t endure the test of time?  I equate a long lasting framed family tree to a strong family with a rich heritage.  If you’re reading this post, I think you understand that sentiment.  Here are the different acid-free choices available:

Museum Board

As mentioned before, spending the extra money on a museum board quality mat is an excellent investment in your family tree chart.   Museum board is made of 100% cotton fiber; I previously blogged about the huge advantages of using a high quality cotton fiber paper. You’re guaranteeing that your piece will look great for literally hundreds of years into the future.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be neat to have a high quality family tree chart from your descendants in the 1600′s?  If the technology existed at the time and they were willing to spend the money on a museum board mat, your current family would still be enjoying the quality of your descendant’s framed family tree.  I don’t know about you, but I find it exciting to know that at the end of this series of posts on this subject, you’ll actually be able to create a high quality framed family tree that will last hundreds of years.

Museum Mat

This is also a good choice and this quality of board is recommended for high quality protection of your tree chart.  Many museums and libraries use this sort of quality matting to preserve the look of their valuable art pieces.  Museum matting is usually constructed of cotton liners and a cellulose (wood pulp) insert/middle.  Cellulose tends to be cheaper than the material used in museum board but in my opinion, it’s not worth taking a step down to this level because a museum board isn’t that much more expensive.  Why chance it?

Archival Mat Board

Once again, this is a pretty good choice but the board is constructed of 100% pure cellulose.  The cellulose is usually treated with UV resistant treatment to allow the mat to look great for many years.  Personally I’m not a fan of this sort of board because if there is any error with regards to the treatment of the board, the mat board will damage your family tree chart.  Personally, I don’t think it’s worth the risk considering the pricing of higher quality matting choices.

Acid-Free Lined Board

This acid-free material is usually internally lined with a wood based liner.  That liner usually has been treated to prevent it from breaking down due to the elements.  I would strongly recommend that you avoid using this sort of matting; the internet is littered with forum posts of individuals that have used this sort of matting only to find out much later that the matting actually damaged their art pieces. It’s not worth the risk especially when you consider the value of your family’s legacy.

This is a Living Memorial of Your Ancestors to your Descendants, Do it Right the First Time

Call around and ask potential printers or framers if they’re familiar with these products.  Ask lots of questions on the phone or e-mail before you spend valuable time visiting any printing service in person.  It’s been my experience that most good framers and printing services are more than happy to answer any of your questions regarding the type of choices available for your art piece.  If they’re not willing to answer your questions properly; move on. There’s  lots of choices out there so you don’t have to settle.  And if you look around and speak to people in your neighbourhood, you should be able to find or be referred to a high quality framer and printing service.

Remember that if you choose the wrong quality, the printer will probably be long gone once the damage is realized.  If they’re still around, they may not be willing to compensate you for the damage.  So your loved ones will be left with a damaged family tree chart that can’t be salvaged.  The lesson here is to preserve your family’s legacy by choosing the best materials.

Look for my next post which will address how to choose the proper mat colour for your family tree template.

If you have any suggestions or experiences that you would like to contribute with regards to this project, please share and comment below.