How to Mount a Watercolor on Matboard

Written by bethany duvall
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How to Mount a Watercolor on Matboard
Show off the deckled edges of your watercolour painting with a matboard mount. (girl image by ann triling from

Mounting makes a great presentation choice for watercolour paintings with deckled edges. A deckled edge is the thin, raw-textured edge of watercolour paper that has not been cut to a smooth edge. Mounting, or placing the artwork on top of backing material, allows you to show off this rough edge. Matboard is the most common backing material. You can purchase sheets of matboard in a variety of colours from art supply stores, frame stores and online retailers.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Watercolour painting
  • Matboard
  • Linen tape or other acid-free archival mounting tape
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Exacto knife or mat cutter

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  1. 1

    Choose your matboard colour based on the colours in the artwork. For a soft, unified effect select matboard that closely matches a dominant colour in the painting. To achieve a more edgy contrast, pick an important but less prominent colour that occurs at least three times in the artwork.

  2. 2

    Measure your artwork. For wide borders, add six inches to the height and width when determining matboard dimensions. Final borders will be three inches on each side. For narrow borders, add two inches in each direction. Final borders will be one inch on each side. Another option is to base matboard dimensions on standard frame sizes. Choose a frame slightly larger than your artwork and measure the matboard to fit the frame.

  3. 3

    Use your border measurements to mark the matboard. Cut it with an exacto knife or mat cutter. Sometimes a representative from the art supply or framing store may be willing to cut matboard for you if you know the correct measurements before purchasing.

  4. 4

    Place a ruler on the edge of the matboard and measure the width of the border. Make a faint mark with a pencil. Do this in two places along each edge.

  5. 5

    Position the artwork within the borders. When it is positioned to your satisfaction, roll bits of linen or acid-free tape so that the sticky side is out. Tape the artwork to the matboard at each corner. If the artwork is large, add a piece of tape near the middle of each edge of the watercolour paper for extra hold.

Tips and warnings

  • Use archival tape to add a foam core backing behind the matboard to give your artwork an extra-sturdy mounting.
  • Shrink-wrap or frame your mounted artwork to protect it.
  • Try double-mounting your artwork by repeating these steps with a second piece of matboard in a contrasting colour to create two borders around the painting.
  • Do not use spray adhesives to mount watercolours. The paper absorbs the adhesive, which may eventually cause damage to the artwork.

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