A common assumption in the picture framing industry is:
“As long as its acid free – it will preserve my framing for a long time!”
However, the truth is, the term ‘acid-free’ has been an effective phrase to persuade buyers to buy products under the pretense that ‘conservation’ or ‘museum’ quality protection will be provided. Just as your stomach gets destroyed with too much acid, acidic matboard will damage the art that it frames, even if it doesn’t come in direct contact with it, therefore matboards need to be more than just ‘acid-free’; they need to STAY acid-free.
Many boards are sold as acid-free because they are wood pulp based boards that have been chemically buffered with calcium carbonate (sound like the anti-acid you use for your tummy?) However, if they still contain lignin, they will eventually turn back to their highly acidic stage again, ready to do more damage. Not unlike the doctor who tells you to make long-term health choices that keep your stomach from being overly-acidic, a good framer will only use 100% cotton board, or highly- purified paper (alpha-cellulose) that is inherently non-acid, to maintain the ‘health’ of your framed projects! Use temporary ‘acid-free’ materials and your art will discolour, or worse, crumble to powder.