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Mounting your print

Keep your photograph stiff and wrinkle-free

Foam-core mounting board is light-weight and moderately-sturdy. It may tend to bend, however, over time if left unframed.
Foam-core mounting board is light-weight and moderately-sturdy. It may tend to bend, however, over time if left unframed.


After you’ve figured out what size mat and frame to use, the next step is to fasten the photo to the framing fixtures. There are a number of ways to do this.


The easiest method is to attach a small part of your unmounted photo to the back of the mat itself, usually using acid-free tape or hinges. Acid-free linen tapes are ideal for attaching photos behind mats since the slick finish on the back of the photographic print grabs onto the tape, fixing it securely. If you choose this method, place the mat face down, position the print carefully (also face down), and only attach the photo at the top to avoid ripples that could occur as the picture expands and contracts, which it will do naturally over time.


There are several ways to affix the photo to the mounting board. You can use adhesive film or dry-transfer adhesive sheets – sheets of film either impregnated with or coated on both sides with adhesive protected by peel-away paper. Beware of brands that don’t allow you to reposition the photo; with some products, once the adhesive grabs the photo, it is there to stay.

Dry-mounting - a traditional photo-mounting method that involves heat and pressure to permanently bond an adhesive material to both the picture and the mounting board - and other methods of affixing your photograph to a backing board will provide rigidity and ensure a ripple-free appearance.

There are many types of mounting board, including mat board, ultra-light foam plastic (called foam-core or form center board), all black board, metallic board, masonite, and rag board, which is used in conservation framing. Easy to cut, foam-core is available in a wide range of sizes, and can be used for other photographic needs, such as reflector cards, packing material and for prop construction.

Need a quick mount? Easy-to-use, self-adhesive mounting board is available that is acid-free, repositionable and creates a permanent bond in about 24 hours. Its use requires no special equipment. Just position your print, apply pressure and it is bonded without wrinkles or creases. Keep in mind that large photographs generally require thicker backing material to avoid warping.

Adhesive sprays or paint-on adhesives are other alternatives, although most makes are not archival. Make sure you check with your photography dealer for the correct type of spray and follow the directions on how to use it. Never use ordinary household adhesives or glues that may contain chemicals such as acetone that could be harmful to your print. Artist’s rubber gum, however, is a safe and reliable adhesive that requires even spreading over both surface in thin layers. You can also purchase special photograph mounting corners that are pressure sensitive and transparent. Some plastic ones are archival, using an acid-free adhesive that won’t damage photographs.

Masonite, a wood-fibre material pressed in sheets, is heavier and won't bend due to humidity and temperature change.
Masonite, a wood-fibre material pressed in sheets, is heavier and won't bend due to humidity and temperature change.


If you choose to dry mount your picture using adhesive tissue and plan on regularly dry mounting a large number of pictures, you should consider purchasing a dry mounting press. However, they are expensive. If a dry mount press is currently out of your reach financially, or if you plan on doing only one or two prints, you can use an ordinary iron for pressing clothes, however you will need to protect the print’s surface with a sheet of paper. The iron should be at its low setting, and you should apply even pressure from the center outwards. You should practice a few times with a print that can be discarded before mounting your better prints.

The first step in dry-mounting is to place your photograph on the mounting board and carefully mark the corners with a pencil so you can trim the board to the same size as the print. Do the same with the mounting tissue. You may even wish to trim the picture if it is not already cropped the way you wish, but be sure its edges are square and your cut lines are straight. Sandwich the board, adhesive and print together, and heat them under even pressure, which melts the adhesive, permanently bonding them together.


If you use other mounting methods involving different adhesives, in almost every instance you will still need to apply even pressure while the adhesive dries to ensure there will be no wrinkles. If you don’t have a press, first protect the surface of your photograph with a sheet of paper, then place your project on a flat surface (table or counter top), cover with a piece of flat cardboard and place several large and heavy books on top. With most mounting adhesives, no more than 5 to 10 seconds should be needed.

Many professional photo labs can also permanently affix your photograph to textured artist’s canvas under immense pressure until the fabric’s ridged surface becomes visible on the surface of the print, giving the appearance that the image was actually printed on the fabric.


There are a number of quality professional outfits who will mount your prints for you, efficiently and expertly.

If you are at all uncertain about your own ability to properly mount a valuable print or if you would like a photograph to be specialty-mounted, a good professional mounting service will handle the job for you.

Professional mounting guarantees quality and is not that expensive. <i>Photo courtesy of Bumblejax.</i>
Professional mounting guarantees quality and is not that expensive. Photo courtesy of Bumblejax.