How to: find economical pre-cut mounts and mount card

Written by chris pink on May 30, 2014 in Picture Framing

How to cut mount boards at home

When acquiring any kind of pre-cut mounts, you need to be looking at those corners. In the illustration above, Figure A depicts a mount which has been wildly over-cut at its edges. This may be due to a blunt blade (the reason why the cut-lines have gone off at an angle) or incorrect use of the mount cutter. Figure B shows a mount which has been cut perfectly. In any kind of mount, a very small amount of over-cut is inevitable, but you’d have to be looking very closely to spot this. Just the way it should be.


This blog has been running for a while now, so we’ve covered a lot of things to do with mount board (also known as matting). Things like how to get the most out of multiple window mounts, and how to measure up your art for mount board.

What we haven’t covered, however, is how to track down quality mount board if you’d like to cut mounts at home, or where to find cheap pre-cut mounts. Having new mounts is always a good idea – which we can obviously help you with – but finding a good source of affordable card is worth the effort too. Particularly if you have to get a lot of work framed quickly.

The benefits of pre-cut mounts

Does much of your art-work fit inside a standard size picture frame? In the case of pre-cut mounts, that’s a very good thing, because with a little bit of ingenuity and focused attention, anyone can locate quality mounts for their art or photography work. You may also find slightly obscure sizes, too, and although not all the mounts may fit your art, it’s good to keep a stock of them. That way, in the future, you can tailor your watercolours (for example) to fit.

Where to search for mount card and mounts

If you’re looking to take home a big bag of mount board off cuts or ready-made mounts, you’re in luck, because a few different types of businesses may be able to help. These include craft shops, gift shops that do their own mounting, picture framing shops and picture framing supply shops (which supplyspecifically  to the trade). All of these frequently use and dispose of mount board off-cuts on a daily basis, and many of them bag the stuff up – either for recycling, or for future use (some even keep the off-cuts for lucky people like you!).

That said, it pays to be inventive, because we know for a fact that there are other places to look. For example, one good idea might be to put an ad up on a free listings directory like Gumtree. Don’t forget about shops that process photographs and have a need for mounting them, either.

When it comes to finding bags of free mount board, all you need to do is ask. You’ll be surprised at just how many people have this card lurking at the back of their premises.

What to look out for

The expression You get what you pay for comes to mind. And when you pay nothing, it’s wise to remember that quality control will be a necessary evil! People throw away scrap mount board and pre-cut mounts for obvious reasons: either they don’t have a specific need for it, it’s the wrong colour, or it’s damaged. Then again, that doesn’t have to be a cause for concern. As long as you check your mount board properly, you should be able to walk away with good stuff that will somehow be usable.

Things to look out for include the following four main things:

One: pre-cut mounts which have been so over-cut at the edges that they are now useless! These cut-lines, which are most visible on dark coloured mount board, won’t do you any favours. Don’t take these home unless the mount is wide enough that you may be able to cut a new mount in it yourself.

Two: damaged or badly scuffed mount board. Some will be just on the right side of usable, while other card will be an obvious waste of your time. Fortunately, if you’re looking for dark mount board, you’re likely to have generally better luck. The darker the mount board, the better it will be at disguising any scuff marks.

Three: small pieces that won’t be any use to you. When faced with a big bag of off-cuts and a happy looking shop owner, it can be tempting to take the lot. But hang on a minute…aren’t they a bit on the small and useless side? Unless your art-work really is that small, we think you’re probably best off giving it a miss (or at least leaving behind anything that isn’t any good!).

Four: soggy or damp mount board. Never a good thing, for obvious reasons. For starters it’s difficult to cut while in that state, and even if it does survive and dry-out, chances are that it’ll be warped or discoloured. It may even attract mould in the future, too, which is another good reason to give this stuff a miss!


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