How to dry mount a print

Before you decide to display any type of photo or poster, or mount any piece of artwork, you need to know which type of mounting method is ideal for you.

What is dry mounting?

Dry mounting is one of the three main techniques used for mounting a piece of art on paper or a backing board.

In general, mounting is the method used for holding your artwork in place within a frame. Custom framing allows for a few different types of mounting. If you want to permanently attach and flatten your artwork within a frame, then dry mounting is the method for you.

Dry mounting is permanent, whereas the other two major methods are either semi-permanent or incorporate the use of hinges. Semi-permanent mounting allows for the use of heat to remove a piece of art from its backing board sometime down the line. Both dry and semi-permanent mounting seek to simply flatten the artwork and remove creases or wrinkles.

Hinging is a technique used for more valuable items and attaches the artwork to a backing board or mat through the use of hinges or small pieces of tape. These materials allow for the mounting to be completely reversed at a later date.

FastFrame design experts utilize a heating method of application when it comes to dry mounting. Through the use of a vacuum press, backing board, and adhesives, designers fit your artwork into place.

The ultimate goal of this method is to flatten the artwork and remove any and all creases or wrinkles. It places the artwork permanently onto a backing board in order to reduce the ongoing effects of cockling or rippling.

What type of art should be dry mounted?

Dry mounting is most commonly used with open-edition prints and posters. The method fits a particular need when it comes to transforming an otherwise ordinary work into something more special.

The technique is mainly for aesthetic purposes.

Remember that it is NOT reversible. If you’re unsure as to whether or not you will need to undo a mounting, ask a local design expert before you consider any type of method. Let them know what type of artwork you are looking to mount and frame.

Some items to avoid when it comes to dry mounting include any artwork that is susceptible to melting or that may contain oil-based products, wax, pastel, or charcoal-based art, and signed posters or prints.

The goal of dry mounting is to allow you to frame and prominently display an item rather than simply pinning it up on the wall as is. It allows you to create something more with your existing decor. Once you’ve chosen dry mounting as your prefered method, you can then consult with a designer in order to find out what type of custom frame will work best with the piece of art.

Stop into a FastFrame location today and ask our local design experts if dry mounting is right for you.

How To Guides

  • How to Select the Right Dry Mount Tissue
  • How to Apply Pressure Sensitive Sheets By Hand
  • How to Dry Mount using Thermal Adhesives
  • How To Use Peel & Stick Boards
  • Informative Links

What is Dry Mounting?

Mounting, in our frame of reference, is simply a method of displaying graphics so they can be viewed and enjoyed. There are many ways to accomplish this. Placing an image on a rigid backing has been done since cave-man times. Today we find it accomplished using tapes, pins, clips and glues. For our interests we will review the more professional method of using adhesives.

The whole idea of mounting a graphic is to provide a pleasing look to artwork and to help protect is while it is displayed. Mounting adhesives generally accomplish this result best because, if used correctly, the adhesive remains invisible, keeps the image flat and it does no harm to the graphic. Common tapes, pins and clips cannot make this claim.

How many times have you attended an event that has welcome or directional signs in a lobby? Often these graphics are mounted to substrates such as foam boards and if they show bubbles or wrinkles it demonstrates a lack of care and devalues the wonderful artistry that made that image.

There are many choices of adhesives to accomplish a more professional display of a graphic. By and large they break into three general categories:

  1. Wet glues
  2. Spray adhesives
  3. Dry mount adhesives

Each system has its merits and disadvantages. Wet glues can be inexpensive but messy. Sprays are also messy and then there is the issue of breathing the overspray. Dry mount adhesives are inexpensive and neat, but generally require pricey equipment to properly apply them.

Dry mount adhesives further break into two general categories: thermal and pressure sensitive. In each case the adhesives are “dry” completely avoiding the messiness of wet and spray adhesives. In the case of thermal dry mount adhesives the glue is most often available in common sheet sizes and rolls called “tissue”. For these products manufacturers coat a thin tissue on both sides with a special heat activated adhesive. When applied in a dry mount press (or possibly with a hand-held iron) uniform heat activates the glue and the pressure of a press ensures complete contact with the image and the substrate – therefore no wrinkles or air bubbles. Pressure sensitive adhesives are also “dry”. These are commonly known as “peel and stick” adhesives whereby a release sheet that protects the sticky adhesive is removed, the graphic is applied to the adhesive and then to the substrate. As a rule of thumb pressure sensitive adhesives are more expensive than dry mount tissues but often in smaller sizes the graphic can be applied by hand potentially avoiding the purchase of an expensive applicator.

Whatever the choice of adhesive the ultimate goal is to display a sign, artwork, poster, photograph and any other image so as to enhance and protect the image.

Important Note

Dry mounting is an ideal way to mount most graphic images. Posters, signage, photos, and other images are often mounted in this manner.

Dry mounting is not recommended for archival or conservation applications. Original art, signed or numbered art, or art of value should not be dry mounted.

Dry mounting alters the original condition of the artwork which may impact its value. Ilfochrome (Cibachrome) images should not be mounted with thermal products.

How to dry mount a print

When printmakers think about canvas, they tend to think about stretching.

For a list of frequently asked questions please click here

This traditional process requires that the printmaker either pays someone to stretch the canvas for them, or takes on the training to learn how to stretch.

It is possible, however, to produce canvas prints which can can be turned into beautiful framed prints without stretching. And, because canvas doesn’t have the same needs as a paper print, it can be displayed without any glazing (glass) for an exciting, unique look:

How to dry mount a print

This process is done with a wet mount of a coated canvas to a substrate such as gator board. In the photograph above you can see a 28″ x 28″ canvas print that was mounted to gator and has been framed.

What is Gator board and why not just use foam core?

How to dry mount a print

Gator board has a much more durable surface, and can take a wet mount without damage.

By design, gator is very stiff and comes in various thicknesses. I choose to work with 3/16″ and 1/2″ for my work. Gator will not deform over time and will resist bending and due to the stiff nature of the product it will not show any rippling when the canvas is mounted.

How to dry mount a print

Paul Caldwell has been working in the photographic arts since he was 15 and has been a professional photographer for the last 10 years. As you would imagine, Paul has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to photography and printmaking. He sells some great looking prints on his website and offers one-on-one classes covering everything from capture to print.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you mount a canvas print?

You can mount a canvas print without stretching it. There are two techniques: wet mounting and dry mounting. Wet mounting means using a liquid adhesive to adhere the canvas to a rigid substrate. Dry mounting involves using a film laminate to stick the canvas to the rigid surface. When working with canvas specifically, it is best practice to use the wet mount method. If you are mounting a more smooth media, such as photo paper, then dry mounting is common and often easier. With the wet mount process, you basically mount the canvas to Gatorboard (or MDF, or masonite, or some other rigid substrate) in order to give the finished piece its rigidity. Gatorboard is dense, durable, and relatively lightweight. This allows for a simple, damage-free workflow as well as safe transport or shipping to the client.

How do you hang a stretched canvas?

The easiest way to hang a stretched canvas without framing is a simple nail. Please note that often one nail will not suffice. Using two nails instead is a better idea. One for each corner for ultimate support. Use a ruler, a level, two 2 inch nails, and a pencil for this DIY project. Place the painting in the final position you would like it in. Use a level to mark the top two edges of the print. Next, you want to balance it with the level. Then measure 1 inch down from your markings and make two additional marks. Make sure to use the level between the two sides. The lower marks are for the nails. Hammer the nails leaving about half an inch (1/2″) protruding. For the final step, rest the canvas on the nails. Voila, you’re done.

Can I frame a canvas print?

Short answer, yes you can frame a canvas print. A common reason to frame a print is because of unsightly sides of the canvas wrap. There are different ways to wrap your canvas. Methods include gallery wrap, museum wrap, and standard wrap. Gallery and museum wraps are ones that you would have no problem hanging as is. The standard wrap is one that people would frame to hide the sides since it is not uncommon for a standard wrap to be stapled on the side of the stretcher bar instead of the backside. This is all personal preference but this is our experience from talking to both print makers and people who purchase printed art and photography.

How to frame a rolled canvas print

We recommend that you take one of two common paths: 1) stretch a rolled canvas yourself using a DIY system like Breathing Color’s EasyWrappe, or 2) have your rolled-up canvas print stretched for you. For this, you can use your local print shop or frame shop. Do a Google search and then call around. You can frame your canvas a number of different ways offered in the market. You can have the canvas stretched and then put into a canvas floater frame. Or frame it, as you would any other print, using a wood, metal, or even acrylic frame.

How much does it cost to frame a canvas print?

There are a number of factors for pricing out a canvas frame. It can range from $8-$20 per linear foot. This comes out to around $50 to $150 per print or a lot more depending mainly on the size of your print, stretcher bar thickness, and frame thickness. It is best to call around for quotes.

The importance of drying time before you frame your photo or art print

How Long?

How to dry mount a print

As a general rule, you can handle and work with photo inkjet prints as soon as the come out of your printer. They are “dry to the touch” but in reality it takes about 24 hours for an inkjet print to fully cure and dry. There are some points you should know about and consider when you are printing.

Wait Before Deciding On Color Quality

The colors of a photo print change over the first hour or so of drying. Always allow at least an hour before deciding if you are satisfied with a print.

Framing? Wait at Least 24 hours

If you are going to frame an inkjet print under glass or plastic allow at least 24 hours of drying time. If the print is not fully cured a light haze can appear on your glass. This is called outgassing. The haze is the ink solvent continuing to escape from a print as it dries.

Speeding Up the Process

How to dry mount a print

Put a sheet of plain copy paper on top of your print when it is complete. You will notice the copy paper begin to curl as it absorbs the escaping ink solvent.

For best results don’t stack prints.

It will take up more space, but your prints will dry faster if allowed to sit out unstacked. Put a sheet of copy paper on each print to prevent dust and debris from settling on your work.




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Archival Grade Paper

Papers with the Archival designtation can take many forms. They can be glossy, matte, canvas, or an artistic product. These papers are acid free, lignin free and can be made of virgin tree fiber (alpha cellulose) or 25-100% cotton rag. They are likely to have optical or fluorescent brightening agents (OBAs) – chemicals that make the paper appear brighter white. Presence of OBAs does not indicate your image will fade faster. It does predict a slow change in the white point of your paper, especially if it is displayed without UV filter glass or acrylic.

Archival Grade Summary
  • Numerous papers – made from tree or cotton content
  • Acid and lignin free base stock
  • Inkjet coating layer acid free
  • Can have OBAs in the base or the coating
Museum Grade Paper

Papers with the museum designation make curators happy. They are made from 100% cotton rag content and have no optical brightener content. (OBA) The base stock is acid and lignin free. The coating is acid free. This type of offers the most archival option in terms of media stability over time.

Museum Grade Summary
  • 100% cotton rag content
  • Acid and lignin free base stock
  • Inkjet coating layer acid free
  • No OBA content
Photographic Grade Paper

Photo Grade products are designed to look and feel like modern photo lab paper. Most photo grade media are resin coated, which means they have a paper core covered by a thin layer of polyethelene (plastic) . Plastic gives the paper its photo feel, stability (flatness), water resistance, handling resistance, and excellent feed consistency.

Prints on photo grade media are stable over long periods. With pigment inks in a protected environment, you can see up to 80 years on-display life. All RC papers are Photo Grade for two reasons. Plastic content is not technically archival by museum standards. Also, the inkjet coating of all RC papers is slightly acidic. It facilitates instant drying and does not actually change the stability of your inks over time. Virtually all RC papers have optical brightening agents (OBAs).

100% Guaranteed Satisfaction or full refund on All Orders.

Custom Size Mounting Panels Are Available as large as 60″ x 120″

Art Boards™ does Custom Mounting of any size Art on a variety of surfaces . Custom mounting of art includes drawings, oil paintings, watercolors, prints, photographs, digital prints on paper, and paintings made on canvas and linens. Art on paper can also be mounted on canvas or linen and stretched over conventional canvas stretcher bars or mounted to our archival panels. Art Boards™ mounts small to very large art archivally on to canvas or panel.

Paintings and drawings can also be mounted t o Natural Maple Panels.
Any weight drawing paper can be mounted including synthetic art papers like Yupo. Mounting of paper or canvas can be done before or after the art is made. Art mounting is reversible. Art can be removed from the substrate if ever needed for future conservation of the art.

For custom size mounting panels & custom art mounting call: 800 546 7985

How to dry mount a print

F or storing mounted drawings, paintings, prints, and photos.

S ee Art Boards™ Art Storage System.

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Submitted by joybrealey on 10 September, 2015 – 09:48

Have you ever had a great looking poster that you thought deserved a little extra attention given to it and decided maybe a black frame would be just the thing? Felt like a great idea at the time.

It was a great idea. After all, frames are designed to protect art. Posters are just a different form of art presentation so technically you should be able to put it into a frame and not have to worry about it again.

You do though. Usually after a month because by then, you’ll notice something awful happens to your once untarnished poster that looked almost new.

It aged. The wrinkles crept into the frame. Since there’s no anti-wrinkle cream for applying to posters, you’d think you’d be screwed.

The only reason posters wrinkle inside of frames is because of humidity. The paper that posters are printed on will expand and contract. When you frame them, if you do so in a tight fitting frame, the paper has no breathing room.

You need to give it space to breathe. Let it expand and contract. It’s natural and you cannot prevent it. When you try to prevent it from happening, the paper will expand and contract and since there’s no breathing room, the only way for it to go is inward. It can’t go out or up, so it changes direction and you’re left with inevitable wrinkling in the poster.

You cannot win a fight with natural forces.

If you’ve tried, you may just want to rethink your strategy because even though “posters wrinkling inside of frames” is a widespread problem, particularly among movie buffs, there is a way to put an end to the problem.

The solution that’s right for your posters will depend on your use of the poster. For non-valuable posters, dry mounting is one technique but if your poster is a collectible or you feel it may increase in value one day, then that’s not the way to go because it can devalue the piece.

4 ways to frame posters without them wrinkling inside the frame

You can use foam board or gator board (if you can find it). Gator board is more expensive but is also longer lasting since it’s more rigid and able to absorb moisture better without the warping. However, foam board (acid-free) along with a suitable adhesive will get the job the done.

For the frame, you need to go at least one inch larger than the poster size. That will give the board and poster plenty of room for movement without causing it wrinkle. The gap between the frame size and the poster size will be filled with an acid free picture mount.

All you need then is a way to attach the poster to the mount board, for which there are a few options:

  1. Use acid free tape

This method is as simple as taping a few centimetres of the clear acid-free tape along each side and top of the poster.

  1. Use photo corners

The best photo corners will be clear ones, and acid-free at that. These are designed to slip over each corner of the poster and bond the board to the frame without ever coming into direct contact with the poster so there’s no risk of it being damaged.

They are available in different sizes, so to be sure that the corners are invisible when you put it inside the frame, go for the clear option and then you can use whatever size you like.

The next two options are more permanent solutions so for valuable posters or ones you hope will increase in value, the first and second method will do better at preserving the value.

The next two options – not so much.

  1. Use spray adhesives (or glue)

Either spray adhesives or glue will work to bond the two together. If you’re using glue, you’ll need to apply it carefully to the foam board ensuring it is spread evenly. To get an even weight onto the mount board, you can use the plexiglass of the frame to press an even distribution of weight onto the poster to get it to stick evenly.

The other way to ensure the two pieces bond together is to use binding clips. Attach right around the frame, not forgetting the corners, or the centre of it as you can just place some paperweights on there or something with weight to apply pressure to the poster and foam board.

If you’re using a spray adhesive, you should wear safety protection to prevent you inhaling the fumes, and also do it in a room that’s well ventilated. The advantage to spray adhesives is that it’s easier to get an even coating.

When using any glue, make sure you get it from an arts and craft store so that it’s suitable for working with paper. Glues have a lot of water in them so if you use the wrong type, it will cause the posters to wrinkle and those ones may never come out.

  1. Have the poster dry mounted to the foam board

Dry mounting is one of the longest lasting preservation methods, but it’s also permanent and that can devalue some posters. If you have a collection of vintage posters, you will need to consider if this is the best thing for you to do with them.

Most picture frame stores and even some arts and crafts stores will be able to do this for you. We use dry mounting for all our framed prints so if you feel this is something you’d like to have done, feel free to get in contact with us for more information.

Otherwise, for a non-permanent solution, the first two options above are where to start.

The most important part is that you use a foam board for the backing and add an inch more than the size of the poster when you order your photo frame and don’t forget to fill the space gap with an acid free picture mount. That will also prevent the poster from being sandwiched against the plexiglass of the frame, which is even more important if you have a signed poster because the ink can transfer onto the glass, again devaluing the poster.

I’m curious to know what you think about mounting photos on a mat board with spray glue vs a dry mount press.

Does anyone have any comments? All ideas are welcome.

I’ve never had or been able to use a dry mount press. It has always been too much of an effort in terms of time, space and cost to explore that option.

After I moved on from that and thought about spray glue, I was concerned on two fronts. Spray gluing obviously makes it hard to remove the photo from whatever its glued onto, and will the spray glue fail making a fugly mess.

I almost always print my photos for my own personal use, and since I can always print more the first concern kind of faded. I ended up spray gluing about a dozen photos – about 5 years ago – to some gatorboard (I prefer no frames and glass – just basic photos – for presentation). While I seem to remember some touching up in the first year or two (I probably didn’t use enough glue initially) I can now safely say that the spray glue has been for my purposes extremely effective as these photos have remained on my office walls and despite constant heat/cold changes (weekend office building lack of HVAC) the prints remain in very good shape.

While I still print and display photos regularly, I haven’t revisited this particular mounting project. Probably because I am lazy and need to special order the gatorboard. But it does look good and has met my needs.

How to dry mount a print

The rise in popularity of digital photography in recent years has radically changed the way we interact with photographs. Much of this change can be attributed to the transformation of photos from physical objects to pieces of data. Drugstore envelopes and shoeboxes have been replaced by hard drives and, more recently, “cloud” systems, as preferred methods of image storage. Likewise, computer and phone screens have ousted photo albums as the dominant means of sharing family memories and artistic creations alike. Yet, for many, the barrage of images on touchscreens and monitors has led to a newfound appreciation for photographs that you can physically touch and hang on the wall. Analog processes have rebounded among dedicated professionals, as well as the casual photographer, nostalgic for the “feel” of film photographs. Although arguments over whether digital prints will ever match or exceed the aesthetics of analog photographs will probably go on forever, we can all agree that printing technologies have evolved to the point of creating quality photographs that deserve quality presentations.

Preparing and displaying your work can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. If your photo is destined for a frame on your desk at work, this article is not for you. There are plenty of options available to take care of this need, here. On the other hand, if you have a photograph that you have been itching to get on the wall, whether it be in your home, office, or an art gallery, what follows should help orient you in the world of mounting and display.

The anatomy of a frame

Before getting too deeply into the decisions that go into preparing and mounting your photograph, it is important to come to grips with the components that make up a frame.

How to dry mount a print
The components that make up a frame

Frame Frames come in an infinite variety of sizes and shapes, from tiny to gigantic, minimal to extravagant, wood to metal. Ultimately, your frame choice is a personal decision but a few factors should be kept in mind. Since you will be framing photographs to hang on a wall, it is useful to think about the space that your photo will occupy. A decadently carved frame that looks like it was stolen from the Palace of Versailles would probably seem out of place in most modern living rooms or offices. Contemporary galleries and museums tend to favor simple designs. This makes sense when you consider that ultimately, you want your audience to focus on your photograph rather than the object protecting it. Avoid frames that might distract viewers from your work. Don’t forget to consider the color of your frame relative to the colors in your photograph or matting. If you are computer-savvy, it never hurts to do a quick mockup in an imaging program to create a preview of what your finished framed photo will look like. Depending upon your chosen wall or the size of your work, weight can become a limiting factor. Metal frames offer a simple and lightweight alternative to wooden frames. Also, if you are working with a frame that has a rabbet (inside) made of raw wood, frame-sealing tape can be used to prevent unwanted toxins from transferring to your print.

Glazing This refers to the sheet of glass or acrylic forming the “window” that your audience will look through to see your print. Not all glazing is created equal. If long-term preservation is your aim, it may be worth shelling out the extra dollars to use a conservation-grade material that blocks UV rays from reaching your print. Glass and acrylic both offer pros and cons, depending upon your particular application. The chief benefits of acrylic are its light weight and resistance to shattering. These are especially important qualities if you ever plan to ship your work. Shipping a glass frame, no matter how carefully packed, is always a daunting task at best. The area where glass trumps acrylic is on its surface. Acrylic is more prone to scratching than glass. Also, if your sheet of acrylic becomes statically charged, you will quickly learn just how much dust and hair is floating around in the room in which you are working. With this in mind, the benefits of anti-static gloves and anti-static cloths can hardly be overstated. This is equally true when handling your print. The best way to avoid getting grease or dirt on your photo is to never touch it with your bare hands.

Mat / Mounting Board The materials to which you attach your photograph are especially important because they should be the only materials that physically touch your work. There are several options available to fulfill this role. Choosing the proper material for your needs will be discussed at length later in the article.

Dust Paper Adding a paper back to your “framing sandwich” not only adds a clean, finished look to your job but, more importantly, keeps dust and other particles from sneaking inside of your frame.

Wire Last, but certainly not least, is the equipment responsible for securing your frame to the wall. The most important specification to take into consideration is the maximum weight that your wire can support. Be sure to use a wire that supports well over the weight of your framed work. Equally important is what you use to hang your photograph. Most framing wire kits will include appropriate weight-bearing hooks to secure your work to the wall. Nobody wants a broken frame and a ripped-open wall.

Choosing a back

The first step in your photo’s journey onto the wall involves choosing a suitable mounting back. The two most important properties of your back to take into consideration are rigidity and quality. Rigidity is especially important for large or un-matted prints where buckling can compromise your display. There are few sadder sights than a beautifully framed photograph that bends toward its glass on account of inadequate backing. You want to choose a material that will keep your image parallel to the wall. It is important to know that temperature and humidity are capable of increasing the risk of your mounting material warping over time. In general, the thicker the better—just so long as the total thickness of the materials in your frame do not exceed the depth of your frame’s rabbet (the inside part of the frame).

The quality of the material that you choose to use is an equally important decision when mounting your photograph. We all have witnessed the damaging effects of improper storage of photographs at one time or another. Despite the popularity of sepia toning in some segments of the photo community, nobody wants their pictures to end up yellowed or browned unintentionally. Without getting into the complex criteria used by museums when preserving their collections, it is worth emphasizing the value of choosing acid-free materials. This is true not only of your mounting board, but also of any material that comes in physical contact with your print (e.g. adhesive). This will ensure that your prints look their best for years to come.

Three popular and common materials for photo mounting are: mat board, foam core, and gator board. The table below compares the attributes of each medium so that you can decide which is most suitable for your photo.