How Much Can You Save Ordering Mat Board Online?

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Squeezing savingsThere is an argument that goes, mat board and foam board should be purchased locally, not through the mail. The reason? Mat board is difficult to ship and is easily damaged unless shipped in large quantities. Bricks and mortar stores buy mat board in large quantities so it ends up on their shelves in pristine condition - no dings, dents or dog-ears. Makes sense. After all, who wants a sheet of mat board that is dinged or dented?

But there is another factor. Most mat board in the U.S. is made by two major manufacturers. One is located in New England and the other is located in the Mid-West. This means that shipping costs vary dramatically from state to state. This shipping cost is figured into the cost of the mat board at the retail level, so the cost of a sheet of regular mat board purchased in a bricks and mortar store can vary depending on the part of the country you live in.

Consequently, plenty of framers in Arizona, Washington and other places are attracted to mat board online since it costs less than mat board purchased in bricks and mortar stores. But after you pay the shipping charges from whereever the mat board is coming from, aren’t you going to be right back at the bricks and mortar price?

Well, you might be. But only if you buy a few sheets at a time. If you are able to put together an order for at least 12 sheets, which is what we at recommend, than the cost of shipping is absorbed over a larger number of items and the price per board comes down - substantially.

See more on this topic in the related article: How to Reduce the Shipping Cost of Mat Board.

Yeah, okay. But what about those dings, dents and dog-ears?

Well, consider: most dings, dents and dog-ears occur along the perimeter edges of the board and don’t penetrate further than an inch. So even if the board is dented on all four edges, after trimming away the bad edges you’ll still have a sheet of mat board 30"x38". Can you get what you want out of that?

It depends on what size frame you intend to use, but just looking at some common sizes and what a 30"x38" sheet will yield as opposed to a full size sheet of 32"x40". If you get the maximum yield per size per sheet, you will get the same yield using a 30"x38" as a 32"x40" when yielding 5"x7", 9"x12", 11"x14", 12"x16", 14"x18", 18"x24" and 24"x36". You lose four out of sixteen mats when sizing 8"x10", and two out of four mats when sizing 16"x20", the worst case scenarios.

Bottom line: on most sizes you lose no yield after trimming off dented edges.

So does receiving mat board through the mail cost more? Or less? In most cases, it costs less, even when you take into account shipping costs, as well as dings and dog ears.

So if you haven't tried it, give it a try. After all, you don't want all those rural matboard buyers far from art and framing stores to get the jump on you.