Matboard Classification & The Fine Art Trade Guild

The Fine Art Trade Guild

In 2003 the Fine Art Trade Guild launched its standards for mountboards, distinguishing between three different qualities, and using the terms Cotton Museum, Conservation and Standard. A review in 2019 took account of some changes in manufacturing and in the market.

As part of the review, the international Mountboard Standards Group also considered how our names for the quality levels may affect countries where framing traditions do not comply with that used by the Guild. For example, in Belgium conservation framing is done to a higher standard than museum, and 100% cotton boards are called conservation mountboard. As a result, the quality levels will now be distinguished by numbered Levels, with Level 1 being highest and Level 4 the lowest.

Our matboard ranges as per The Fine Art Trade Guild levels

Level 1

All Peterboro Museum matboards are made of the finest 100% cotton fibre and adhere to the Fine Art Trade Guild’s
stringent specifications for museum (100% Cotton) matboards. Because of no acid content in the manufacturing
process, these boards are the ultimate under normal conditions.

  • 100% Cotton
  • Naturally acid & lignin Free
  •  Solid colour throughout buffered with Calcium Carbonate

Level 2

Peterboro Conservation is truly our flagship product and represents the best value in conservation matboards.


1. The Core
We use high grade virgin Alpha Cellulose as the main ingredient in our conservation core. Alpha Cellulose can be distilled from cotton or wood, the higher the Alpha Cellulose content the higher the purity of the board. We specify that PETERBORO CONSERVATION core must have more than 90% Alpha Cellulose, industry specifications call for no less then 84 %.

2. Chemical Ingredients
The conservation quality of a mat can often be affected by the chemical impurities within its materials. For instance the level of iron and copper within the matboard can create tarnishing and discoloration of the mat while the sulphur content can raise acidic levels that attack both mat and artwork. In the manufacture of PETERBORO CONSERVATION we strictly control the level of chemical ingredients to ensure that they meet or exceed the PPFA and Fine Art Trade Guild standards for chemical composition.

3. Surface Paper
To reduce color fade and bleed PETERBORO CONSERVATION uses pigments for surface paper coloration. Our pigments are specified to meet or exceed the fade and bleed test requirements outlined by the Fine Art Trade Guild and PPFA standards. Independent testing shows that PETERBORO CONSERVATION exceeds these requirements.

4. Backing Paper
Our backing paper is 100 % virgin fiber, buffered with calcium carbonate at a 3% minimum reserve, no optical brighteners, and a smooth finish with even coloration. Our backing paper meets or exceeds the standards as set out by both the PPFA and the Fine Art Trade Guild.

5. Quality
Independent QC benchmarking shows that PETERBORO CONSERVATON has one of the highest standards of consistent quality in the market.

What does this testing and analysis mean to the framer?

It means that if you are using Peterboro Conservation matboard to frame valuable art you can be sure the product will perform to the high standards our industry expects of a conservation grade matboard.


Bleached wood pulp that has an Alpha Cellulose content not less than 84% (Source: Pulp and Paper Services)

Kappa number of 5 or less
< 1

Less than 0.0008%
Less than 00008%

Iron not to exceed 150ppm
Copper not to exceed 6ppm

Alkaline filler, calcium carbonate buffered. Usually in the range 8.5

The Alkaline reserve should be about 2% and the maximum 5% by weight. As carbonate filler may be source of Impurities, excess is not desirable.

Rosin-alum sizing shall not be used


Level 3

White Core is a high quality mat designed for framers who want the impact of a bright white bevel that will not discolour but do not require the qualities or price of conservation matboard. With a range of over 220 references in colour, size, texture and designer finishes, PETEBORO WHITE CORE will help you meet all your designing challenges.

What makes PETERBORO WHITE CORE different?

It has a unique construction with each component buffered to a pH of 8.2 +/-0.5% and containing a minimum 3% reserve of calcium carbonate to provide years of stability.

The Surface Paper
On over 85% of our Whitecore references we use the same Conservation grade surface paper found in our conservation line. The surface paper is buffered and lignin free. It has a high strength quality to minimize surface tearing during cutting.

Our core is pure white and has been buffered against acids to ensure bright white bevels and v groves for years to come. Our specially designed fibre morphology and density specifications means Peterboro Whitecore cuts cleaner and results in smoother bevels.

Backing Paper
We are the only company to use high quality conservation backing paper on all our white core. Our tensile profile keeps the boards flat and resists tearing while cutting.

Our WHITE CORE line has one of the highest specifications in the market. The result is a superior mat that will stand the test of time, resisting the effects of acid degradation and remaining bright.


Level 3

Peterboro Black Core mats are designed with a deep, rich, black core. At times when a white bevel is distracting, Peterboro Black Core allows the viewer’s eye to focus on the art and not the bright bevel. Black Core mats may also be used to give an extra element of design without the use of a second mat and are especially effective when v-grooves are used.

Our Black Core mats are made with a buffered surface paper, a black core with a proprietary retention chemistry to minimize rub off. Dark Grey, non transferring conservation grade backing paper is used to provide a seamless visual appearance.

They are ideally suited to Black and White Photography, Prints, Awards, Memorabilia or any other art that is enhanced by a dark accent line.

Peterboro Black Core mats come in 31 references 32 x 40 (812 x 1016mm) and 7 oversize colours 40 x 60 (1016mm x 1524mm). All boards are approximately .052 (1.3mm) thick.


Level 3

  • Ideal for decorative picture framing
  • Easy to cut
  • Bright White Core
  • Buffered to a neutral pH
  • Dyed surface paper