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What’s in a frame?

When it comes to custom framing, it might feel like you’re trying to decipher the meaning behind Shakespeare’s words. And you’re not alone. It’s not uncommon to not know the difference between a mat and a mount. But here at, we want to let you in on the lingo!

There are common elements that are found in every picture frame. Those pieces are the frame, the glazing, and the backing board. With those three elements, you can put photographs and art prints on display.

But there are additional components you might not have considered just because you didn’t know their names. A mat is something to consider when choosing your custom picture frames. Picking the right mounting hardware is also very important.

Now that we’ve talked about a bunch of the terms you’ll encounter in the framing world, let’s talk about what they actually mean.

The Glossary


The frame can refer to the piece as a whole, but in reality it’s only a small piece. The frame is the part that well, frames the image inside. Frames come in all different shapes, sizes, styles, and colors to fit your needs. Even the materials they’re made of varies from moulding to moulding.

When picking the right frame, make sure you know what you’re measuring. When you see things like 4x6, those numbers represent the space inside the frame for your image to be displayed. The actual frame will be bigger, depending on the width of the moulding. It’s important to determine what size frame you’re looking to display your picture, poster or art print within so that you can determine if you need, or want, a mat as well.


The rabbet is another component that’s important to consider when picking your perfect frame. When looking at a frame in profile, you’ll see there’s the width and outer height of the moulding but there’s also inner depth, known as the rabbet. This area is where your picture or print sits when it’s mounted in the picture frame. The depth of the rabbet is important when framing thicker pieces.


In the world of custom picture framing, glass, acrylic, and / or a frame’s protective front is referred to as ‘glazing.’ We prefer to use frame-grade acrylic instead of standard glass in our frames for several reasons. Acrylic twenty times more shatter proof than glass – making it a safer choice. Acrylic weighs less than glass. Acrylic is less expensive than glass. And, most importantly, our acrylic provides a greater level of protection for your artwork over standard glass. We are proud to offer, standard, non glare, and museum grade acrylic in all of our frames.

Mounting or Backing board:

The purpose of a mounting or backing board is to help prepare and preserve art in a frame. These boards are stiff and act as support for the picture or print inside the frame. It also functions as protection against the elements because it closes off the back of the frame so that your images are sandwiched between the glass and the board.

Mat or Matting:

A mat is a piece of cotton paper, usually 4-ply in thickness, that goes inside the picture frame with your image. Incorporating a mat into your framing has many functions. For one, it adds additional decoration to the overall finish of your display. Mats are available in many different colors, patterns and designs to coordinate flawlessly with your décor. They also serve as a way to separate your art from the glass to protect from things like water damage, mold and mildew. And lastly, some images can’t be glued to the mounting board. In those cases, matting is crucial for hiding evidence that the pictures or print have been framed with photo corners, or other alternative methods.