Photo-Safe Tape Alternatives

Written by Mark Rogers

Standard, pressure-sensitive tape is certainly good enough to hang posters on a teenager’s bedroom wall, but it’s a different story when it comes to those precious family photographs that you wish to keep safe. Photo-safe hinging tape differs from regular tape in that the adhesive is acid-free, meaning it will not eat away at the photograph and cause irreversible damage.

When you mount photographs in a picture frame or place them in a scrapbook, it shows you want to display these photos proudly. Use the right photo-safe tape or other adhesive to ensure your photographs stay damage-free for years to come.

Spray or Liquid Glue

Glue is a permanent solution to mounting photographs, so it should only be used when you are certain that the photo is going to stay put. The glue used to mount photos should clearly state that it is photo safe or acid-free, and suitable for mounting purposes. The Super 77 Spray Adhesive from 3M, for example, is multipurpose but does not contain acidic materials — it’s a great option for those planning on scrapbooking, as it will bond to materials including paper, cardboard, fabric, plastic, metal, wood, and more.

Acid-free liquid glue such as Lineco’s Neutral pH Adhesive is also suitable for photographs, primarily in scrapbooking, bookbinding, collages and other crafts. Liquid glue is easier to manage in terms of application than a spray, allowing for more precision.

Photo Corners

To avoid adhesive from even touching the photographs, use photo corners. These small plastic pockets feature non-yellowing acrylic adhesive on their outside, while the photo stays safely inside the pocket and away from the adhesive. Though photo corners go over the front corner of the photograph, they do not obstruct the view as they are made of polypropylene, a clear plastic. Photo corners are not a permanent solution either — simply slide the photo out of the corners to remove.

Hinging Tissue

It acts like regular pressure-sensitive tape, but it’s made from long-fibered tissue that works well for small and medium-sized art. This hinging tissue is ideal for archival mounting techniques including the T-hinge and the V-hinge, as well as translucent artwork. Another version, gummed linen hinging tape, is also made from cotton linen with a water-activated and acid-free adhesive, and is more suitable for heavy artwork.

Photo Tabs

Perhaps the quickest way to mount photographs is by using photo tabs. These self-adhesive, peel-and-stick tabs are ideal for scrapbooks and albums, as they are fast and acid-free. However, much like liquid and spray adhesives, photo tabs are permanent — whatever photos you decide to stick in that scrapbook will stay there forever.

Pressure-sensitive, acid-free hinging tape isn’t the only way to secure photographs to mount board, albums and scrapbooks. There are plenty of photo-safe alternatives to tape, though they all have different benefits: glue and photo tabs are permanent solutions that are great for scrapbooking, while hinging tissue and photo corners are more temporary, gentle adhesives that make it easy to change your mind. It is important to choose the right photo-safe adhesive to protect your photographs from damage, regardless of where you

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2 thoughts on “Photo-Safe Tape Alternatives”

  • Laura Cronin

    I have photos in a frame that touch the glass. I need a way to keep them from touching the glass. Article suggested a small line of stationary tape on the sides of the photo. What do you suggest?

    • Laura W

      Hi Laura - We (as well as other retailers) do sell spacers to keep artwork away from the glazing. You can customize them to the size you need.

  • Peter

    Hmmm. Not sure this addresses my need. I want to put photos in an album (white background/mylar cover). The problem is that if I use glue or something like that my picture is in the album permanently (removing it would damage the photo). What I need is something like double-sided tape (or something similar) to affix to the back of the photo to hold it in place, but that does not damage the photo and would allow the photo to be moved at some point if necessary. Does such a product exist? How else do people display photos? Thanks!


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