What's the deal with photo mats?

 
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Did you know there's a purpose to photo mats? It isn't just to add some coordinated color to your wall decor.

Sure the contrasting solid block around your photographs draws your eye inward to the photo; however, photo mats do something even more important than that.  Mats protect your photographs from acid corrosion that ruin and deteriorate photographs over time. 

Wood naturally contains acetic acid and formic acid. What are those? Acetic acid is used in descaling household cleaners such as mildew cleaners.  Vinegar is diluted acetic acid.   

Formic acid is about ten times stronger than acetic acid and used in lime scale and toilet bowl cleaner. This acid gets its name from the Latin word for ants, specifically wood ants that spray formic acid on their prey or to defend their nest.   These acids are natural won't harm you unless used in concentrated doses, but they will harm your photographs. 

You would never pour toilet bowl cleaner all over your favorite photograph of your newborn.  It would ruin in, right?  So imagine painting a very diluted mix of these acids on your photograph every day over a 15 year span.  Over time, this will do some damage to your photograph, causing the ink to fade and paper to deteriorate.  This is why older photographs will have a yellow border around the edge when you remove them from the frame.  A mat board creates a barrier between the wooden frame and the photograph of your family, protecting it from the acids that leach out of the wood over time.

Keep in mind, not all mat boards are created equal.  Most mats sold in craft and grocery stores are made of paper and contain many of the same acidic elements as wood frames.  While some mats claim to be made of acid-free paper, the only true acid free mats are made of 100% cotton.  

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Every framed photograph from Alex Shelley Photography includes a 100% cotton mat for this reason.  We aren't just taking your portrait; we're creating a memory that will tell your story for generations to come.  To do that, we only use the materials that guarantee their preservation. 

I hope this sheds a little light on what makes our products different. The best part (in my opinion) is those cotton mats really take a simple photograph and really up the lux factor, adding a high end style to your home decor. 

If you’d like more information about our 100% cotton mats and preserving your story, feel free to visit our products page.  If you'd like us to turn your memories into luxury artwork, contact me today!