Choosing Your Mounting Technique

Written by Mark Rogers

When mounting photos to mounting board or mat board, there are several different routes you can take. Whether your primary goal is finding the most convenient method or preserving your photo or document, see which of these five mounting techniques resonates with you the most.

Hinging Tape and Mat Boards

Hinging tape is used to “hinge” a mat board to the mount board. The hinging tape must be acid-free in order to avoid damage to the photos. Hinging tape is available in linen and gummed, which requires water to activate the adhesive.

Steps for Using Hinging Tape

  • Place the mount board flat and face up.
  • Lay your mat board face down.
  • Cut the hinging tape to where it is almost the length of the hinge of the mat board.
  • Press the tape down on the seam of the mat board.
  • Using a “T-hinge” method, in which you take two small pieces of acid-free tape and make a “T” shape, tape the mat board to the mounting board from the top, with the photograph facing up. The top part of the “T” should be used to hold the top of the mat board in place over the top of your photograph.
  • Fold your mat board over the photograph.
  • Use the photo corner method below to attach the mat board to your mount board.

Pros: The hinging tape method is a traditional method of framing, giving your display a more professional feel. Using the T-hinge method also guarantees that the photograph will be centered within the mat board.

Cons: Using gummed hinging tape is messier and more difficult to use than self-adhesive versions.

Photo Corners with a Self-Adhesive Back

Photo corners are acid-free, clear, and have passed the “Photo Activity Test” (PAT) to ensure they are photo-safe. They serve as the mounting technique of choice for museums around the world.

Steps for Using Photo Corners

  • Arrange the photos on the mount board.
  • Peel the adhesive off the back of each photo corner.
  • Attach to the mat board by pressing firmly.

Pros: Photo corners are stronger than tape and are professional quality. They are also “photo-safe,” because no chemicals will come in contact with your photo.

Cons: There aren’t really any cons to using photo corners, which is probably why museums use them!

Dry Picture Mounting

This technique requires special adhesive tissue that affixes the photograph to the mount board. The photo is permanently attached to the board with heat to  activate the adhesive and with pressure to remove all air. These steps ensure the images is perfectly flat. This process is most successful with a dry-mount press.

Steps for Dry Mounting

  • Measure the photo.
  • Cut the dry mounting adhesive in the shape and measurement of the photo.
  • Starting with a flat surface, place the mounting adhesive on the board.
  • Tack the adhesive to the back of the photo in the center only.
  • Place sandwich-down on the receiver board, tacking the corners.
  • Place a cover sheet on top of the photo and heat cover until the adhesive reaches proper melting temperature.
  • Remove the cover board and let the sandwich cool.

NOTE: Be careful not to use the iron directly on the photograph. Also do not use the steam option on your iron during this process. The moisture from the steam will ruin the adhesive and your photo.

Pros: There is no chance of the photographs falling down or peeling off the mount board.

Cons: The photos are permanently stuck to the mount board and you cannot remove them without ruining them. This means you cannot reframe the photos, which could reduce the value of one-of-a-kind artifacts and photos. Using the steam option on your iron could ruin the adhesive and your photo.

Wet Picture Mounting

This technique requires using a wet paste to the mount board itself. After the paste is applied, you must lay the photos down onto the board, applying pressure with your hands and the glass from the frame. There is no heat required.

Steps for Wet Mounting

  • Starting with a flat surface, arrange your photos on the board how you would like them displayed. It’s important to get this first step right—once you lay the photo down on the glue, there’s no going back!
  • Remove the photos and apply wet glue directly to the board.
  • Before it dries, lay the photos on the board and press firmly.
  • Lay the glass from the frame on top of the photos for 8–24 hours. This applies pressure to make sure there are no folded corners or bumps in the photos. Make sure the paste surrounding the photos is dry before laying the glass on top.

Pros: It’s similar to the dry picture mounting technique, but you don’t have to use an iron, measure, or cut anything out.

Cons: This method takes a while to dry. There is also a higher risk of lumps, bumps and ruined photos depending on how much paste you use. If you lay the glass on top before the paste around the outside of the photos is dry, it could muck up the glass.

Spray Mounting

We carry 3M™ Super 77™ Multipurpose Spray Adhesive, which is an acid-free and professional quality spray. It’s clear and dries quickly. Like dry mounting, the results of this technique are permanent.

Steps for Spray Mounting

  • In a well-ventilated area, lay your photos upside down on a flat, covered surface. It’s preferable to do this with freezer paper so it will absorb the extra spray and your table won’t.
  • Apply an even coat of spray adhesive to the back of the photos.
  • Before they dry, place the photos on the board and press down.
  • Smooth the photo from the center to the ends to prevent bubbles and bumps.

Pros: It’s cleaner than wet mounting, and arguably easier.

Cons: The photos get pretty sticky with spray adhesive. You need to have a very steady hand when placing the photos on the board.

Give one of these methods a try based on what you’re trying to accomplish. We’d love to hear how it goes for you, so let us know in the comments below!

Further Reading:

Updated July 27, 2021

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5 thoughts on “Choosing Your Mounting Technique”

  • TopicSupply

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really helpful & it helpeed me out a lot.
    I hope to presemt something again and aiid others like you aided me.

  • All Custom Framing
    All Custom Framing April 17, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Thanks for sharing these mounting techniques. We do use most of them at our store.

  • Mark Rogers

    Thanks for that catch Jay. It is a quick summary and really dry mounting should be a multi-page article as opposed to a portion of a blog.

  • Jay

    Bad advice on dry mount technique.
    NEVER use an iron or press directly on the photograph as you can scorch and permanently damage the photo. Tack the adhesive to the back of the photo in center only, place sandwich down on the receiver board and tack the corners, then put a cover sheet on top of the photograph and heat the cover till the adhesive reaches proper melting temperature. This is best done with a flat dry mount press. Remove the cover board and let the sandwich cool.

  • Chrisman Framing

    Great read for reference. Thanks!


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