Framing a Picture: Basics on Photo Mounting

Mounting is a necessary step when placing your picture inside the picture frame. Although the photo is printed in thick photo paper or cardstock, it still needs some support to ensure that it does not buckle down, wrinkle or bend over time. Mounting also ensures that the photo stays centered in the frame, whether you use a rectangular or round picture frame.

Here are some considerations when mounting a photo on the backing board:

  • Conservation. Conservation is about ensuring that the photo lasts long and is protected from damage. If conservation is an important factor, especially when you are framing something rare and irreplaceable, take note of the following:
    • Choice of materials. The backing board is one of the picture frame components that come in direct contact with the photo. As such, if conservation is a concern, you need to use acid-free and lignin-free materials so that the acid from the mounting board does not seep in and cause the photo to become discolored and brittle. As for adhesives, you also need to use acid-free glue and tapes.
    • Choice of mounting techniques. Reversibility is also important from a conservation point of view. There are techniques that allow one to remove a mounted photo easily, without fear of damaging the photo.
  • Hinging techniques. Hinging allows the photograph to adjust as it expands and contracts due to the moisture and heat of the environment. If a photo is securely attached to the mounting board, it can buckle and crease if it does not have the space to expand and contract. This involves attaching the photo in key points such as the top of the photograph. When using the hinging technique be sure that your photo stays centered and in place.
    • T-hinge. With this technique, you form a T-shaped hinge by attaching a 2-inch strip perpendicular to the top of the picture (at the back). One inch of the strip should be placed on the photo with the other inch exposed, sticky side up. Seal this exposed inch by placing another strip perpendicular to it. This t-hinge is made on both the left and the right sides of the photo.
    • V-hinge. Also called a folded hinge, this is a method that is used when you want to display the edges of the photograph. The v-hinge goes entirely under the photo, one on the upper left side and another of the upper right side of the photo, at the back. To create the v-hinge, start by taping a strip of adhesive tape perpendicular to the top of the photo, with half of the strip exposed adhesive side up. Fold the tape back, as if forming a letter “V”. Attach the remaining tape to the mounting board.
  • Photo corners. These are plastic triangular corners with pockets and adhesive backs. You can tuck in a corner of the photo inside the pocket and the adhesive back ensures that the photo stays in place. Photo corners are ideal for pictures with borders, with at least one layer of matting to keep the photo corners hidden from view.
  • -Irreversible mounting techniques.
    • Dry photo mounting. This technique uses adhesive tissue to attach the photo to the mounting board. The adhesive is activated either by physical pressure or by applying a hot iron. Although irreversible, dry picture mounting is used on easily replaceable photos or when you want to display the photo on its own, without the picture frame.
    • Wet mounting. This makes use of glue that is applied to the mounting board. The photo is then attached to the board and something flat is placed over the sheet (such as a heavy book or a sheet of glass).
    • Spray adhesive mounting. With this mounting technique, the framer sprays adhesive onto the back of the photo. The photo is then carefully positioned on the mounting board and smoothed over.
  • Adding 3-dimensional objects. You can also frame 3-dimentional keepsakes along with your photos with the use of custom display cases such as a shadow box frame. With this type of frame, it is important that you use a sturdy mounting board and strong glue to hold all your pieces in place. 
9th May 2016 Eric Morgan

Recent Posts