Mounting Artwork for Picture Frames and in Picture Framing

Below are advice and tips on picture framing artwork mouting. We have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible but no liability is assumed for any errors herein. It is the responsibility of users to ensure the correctness of all information.. For any help with orders, see our Help and FAQs or use the Contact page.

What picture framing mounting is and why it’s needed

Most photos, prints, posters and other paper art brought in by Customers to be framed tend to be inexpensive, commercial images of little commercial or personal value.  This art does not need expensive conservation diploma-cockling-under-picture-frame-glassor museum-quality framing and can be industrially framed at more economical prices.

Generally this art consists of thin, flexible, loose, square or rectangular sheets or pieces of paper. If these are simply inserted into a picture frame, this may not always make the paper inside stay flat inside, even if taped on all or some of its sides. It may instead gradually expand and contract with time, temperature and humidity.

Often paper can buckle, cockle or slightly ‘bubble” under the glass.  The only certain way to make it and keep it permanently flat is for it to be adhered to a stiff, sturdy backing or “mounting” board. essentially, this is what mounting (in the context of picture framing) is.

Picture framers have to mount most artwork before picture framing it, even small photos, of, say, 8″x10″ size. If artwork isn’t mounted it will move, cockle and buckle under the glass thus giving to the framed art that kind of cheap Sunday-market, flea-market, used, or second-hand frame look.

Even thick papers and thin boards will move, if left unmounted. Mounting is  therefore essential towards achieving a flat, straight, even and professional appearance.

The two main picture framing mounting methods, wet and dry

The wet-mounting method consist of rolling PVA or woodworking glue, onto a clean, backing such as M.D.F. or plywood and working it to a thin, even film all over this surface. The paper art is then positioned on top of this wet, sticky, backing.

This backing is then pressed inside a Vacuum Press picture-framing-vacuum-pressfor a few minutes, or until reasonably dry.This bonds the paper to its backing and produces a durable, smooth and flat finish. The art will not ripple or buckle under the glass.

This quick and cheap mounting method is very economical but also permanent and irreversible. It suits inexpensive, replaceable and commercial items but it is not recommended for valuable, historical, irreplaceable artwork.

The dry-mounting method instead uses heat to activate adhesive heat-tissue which, when heated, will bind the paper art to its backing, either M.D.F., foamboard, or similar sub-strata.>Dry-mounting is more expensive than wet-mounting but cleaner, neater and faster.

It too permanently and irreversibly bonds paper art and only really suits commercial, inexpensive and replaceable art. Like wet-mounting, dry-mounting  will keep the poster flat and prevent it from buckling. However, if framing a work of fine art or an original, dry-mounting is not the recommended method.

This is largely because if a work of art is permanently glued to its backing, whether by wet or dry-mounting, it will decrease significantly in value.

The conservation hinging method

This method is largely reserved for fine art or artwork which, because of its personal, emotional,  financial or historical value, needs conservation, protection or preservation form the ravages of time and materials.

Unlike the previous methods  hinging-art-to-picture-frame-window-matdescribed above, artwork in conservation must not in any way be permanently bonded to a backing or its substratum. Indeed, one of the key elements of conservation mounting and framing is reversibility.

This means that the artwork must be capable of being easily detached and removed, should the need arise. Conservation mounting thus involves lightly taping, or hinging, the top edge of the artwork onto a window mat.

The mat is then laid on top of a clean acid-free backing board so that the art is sandwiched between the two boards for framing. Usually both boards and the tape are acid-free and of good quality, if not of conservation standard.

This method is reversible, not permanent and is recommend for relatively inexpensive or unimportant artwork. conservation hinges for picture framing The conservation method: This is structurally similar to the above, hinging method.

The main difference is that all materials used must be of far higher quality and of conservation standard. All boards and papers must to be of Museum quality, with the hinges from Japanese mulberry paper and hand-bonded with a rice starch paste.

Gloves-on handling, a scrupulous cleanliness and the strict avoidance of polluting materials or contaminants are mandatory for this highly specialized matting and mounting method.

Since you’ve read thus far …

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