Picture Frames, Picture Framing and Picture Framers' Blog

Welcome to our weblog about picture framers, picture frames and picture framing. It is published and maintained with the goal to share information, knowledge, tips, ideas and opinions about this industry. All posts are grouped in the sections listed below. For help with orders, please visit our Store Help and FAQS page, or use our Contact page.

Help! My brand new window mat is all scuffed and dirty, how do I fix it?
This is a question we often get asked from Customers who do their own picture framing or assemble their picture frames and photo frames. New window mats (also called window mounts) shouldn't get to Customers dirty or scuffed but occasionally this does happen. If you do get this problem, you have the choice of going back to the mat supplier and asking for a mat replacement or try to fix .. the problem yourself. This post will not address the former solution but the latter. When a window mat or matboard bears scuff marks (the sort or marks that show up and you can see when you run your fingernail over a black mat) an easy and inexpensive solution is to wipe the affected area with a damp kitchen  ... sponge. Doing so will raise or restore the miniscule matboard facepaper (the layer the colour is printed on) fibres upright and not allow the light to reflect. The reason we see scuff marks is because pressure marks or scuffs have flattened or crushed these fibres which appear sort of "shiny" since light is reflected. Try this simple trade trick and it should work most of the times. When wiping the mat or matboard with the sponge, make sure that it's damp, not dripping wet, and when wiping, use a circular, rather than straight up and down motion. And while this tip takes care of bruised and scuffed matboards it's not all that helpful with dirty matboards. With regard to dirt you first should establish whether it's wet or dry. If it's wet like ink stains, food stains or oil stains then you probably won't be able to save the board because it has probably soaked and penetrated into the facepaper and even the core. However if the dirt is dry then chances are that you can remove it. Start firstly with a non-abrasive tool, like a simple duster because abrasive like erasers or nail filers have a tendency to bury dirt deeper. If that doesn't solve the problem then do try the abrasive tools mentioned before. Lastly, if those don't remove the dirt then we suggest you buy a powder or a "Document Cleaning Pad" made by Lineco or other reputable manufacturer or similar to the one shown below.

These pads aren't really cheap but work very well and most art and paper conservators use them. The stitched and sealed cloth pad contains soft, crushed, granulated, rubber powder which absorbs and cleans dirty fingerprints, surface grit and dirt from paper surfaces. These come with instructions but, for the most part, you would use them as in the kitchen sponge tip explained above and without exerting to much downward force or pressure when cleaning a board, document or paper. If wishing to purchase window mats or picture framing matboard or mountboard, visit our Photo Mats and Matboards page.


I can't believe it! The damp sponge rubbing works like a charm! I did that, put the window mat back in the picture frame and now the whole thing looks new. I would never have thought of this very handy little tip by myself. Many thanks.
Shane R. - 5 Feb 2018 08:48 pm
Here's a free tip! Sometimes when you put matted art with a black or very dark mat into a frame you may see shiny scuff marks on the surface of the mat under the glass . An easy way to get rid of this problem marks is to WIPE the scuff marks with a damp ( not wet )kitchen or sink sponge. Do so in a circular motion, firmly, not vigorously, and wait for the moisture to dry off. You should then see most of not all the scuff marks gone. You can now put the matted art back into the picture frame.
Cassie N. - 24 May 2017 10:25 pm
There's also a cheaper, home-made, remedy to cleaning papers. When I was a child back in Poland we were very poor and didn't have money to buy rubbers or erasers, besides my parents complained that we kept losing them. So we used the soft crumb of freshly made bread as a substitute for an eraser. You try it, it works. Just rub into the paper and it will erase pencil marks.
Peta L. - 23 Mar 2016 12:52 am
What a useful blog this is! I'm an office administrator at a law firm here in Sydney and I often have to handle, store and archive documents like quite old wills and ancient land titles. Some of these are of sentimental value to clients and or firm's partners and I often wish I could clean them a bit without going to the expense of having then cleaned by an art conservator. As soon as I read this post i went out and bought a Document Cleaning Pad. I didn't know such a handy tool existed! Thank you so much, it has mad my working life quite a bit easier and other staff have already asked me how was I able to clean papers and documents so well and so quickly !!
Genevieve R. - 4 Feb 2016 10:33 am

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