THE "ACID-FREE" MAT BOARD MYTH
Unfortunately, just because a framer tells you that their standard mat boards are "acid-free", it does NOT mean that those boards won't eventually damage your valuable artwork. They are cheap for a reason and we don't use them.
"Acid free" is a very loose and often "abused" term commonly used in the picture framing industry. In most cases, “acid free” only refers to a product measuring an alkaline level of pH at the point of manufacture. It means that a matboard made of acidic materials like wood pulp has been buffered with calcium carbonate (chalk) to raise the mat's pH level. Technically, this means the board can be sold to you as "acid free". Don't be fooled.
Any mat made from wood pulp contains lignin, a naturally occurring substance in wood that acts as a sort of biological “glue” binding together the cellulose fibres of the wood. As the matboard ages, the lignin breaks down and releases acidic by-products causing the cut bevel of the mat to turn brown. It is both unsightly and damaging, causing staining of artwork known as acid burn, in particular around the mat opening. This process also damages the artwork by causing the paper to become brittle and weak.
These photos show the brown bevel of a once "acid-free" matboard, and the resulting acid burn on the valuable limited edition artwork. This piece was framed elsewhere, and was brought in to us for repair.
THE GOOD NEWS!
We use and recommend the Nielsen Bainbridge Artcare™ range of products for all your matting and mounting needs. They are NOT made from wood pulp. Made from alpha-cellulose (linen, flax) and cotton, they are naturally acid and lignin-free.
100% virgin cotton-fibre rag matboard in a full assortment of classic colours and sizes, feature patented Artcare protection technology.
Alphamat Artcare Colour
The most extensive selection of museum-quality preservation boards available, featuring the latest colours on an archival core and patented Artcare protection technology.
Alphamat Artcare Speciality
Distinctive archival specialty surfaces add a unique, creative touch to preservation framing and feature patented Artcare protection technology.
Fabric and Texture
The most extensive selection of fabric, metallic and textured surfaces available, feature an archival core and patented Artcare protection technology.
Patented Artcare Protection Technology
Nielsen Bainbridge Artcare™ products offer industry-leading protection for art and photos. Only Artcare products contain patented micro-chambers that pro-actively trap and neutralize harmful gases that can cause fading, yellowing and deterioration.
A unique combination of zeolites and buffers traps and neutralizes oxidizing gases, other pre-acidic gases and harmful by-products—giving Artcare boards the ability to actively protect art and photographs against attack by external pollutants and internal vices. Artcare stops air pollution in its tracks and keeps it away from your photograph or artwork. The result is a framed piece that stays forever young.
Backed by extensive scientific testing, Artcare technology is trusted by many of the world’s leading museums and archives, including the Library of Congress, to protect historic artifacts and documents.
Artcare Matboard Technology - Preservation Framing Video (9:51mins)