What is Archival Mounting Board?

Mount board gives custom framed photos stability and is an essential part of picture framing. Mount boards, often also referred to as foamcore, come in a variety of thicknesses, your choice of black or white, and support different mounting techniques (such as self-adhesive mount boards versus heat activated board). There’s also the option of archival versus non-archival quality. There are a number of differences between archival and non-archival mount boards, and these differences will vary between different manufacturers. However, there are a few fundamental things to understand in order to choose the correct mount board for your custom framing project.

When Non-Archival is OK

Non archival mount board means that the foamboard is not certified acid-free. Acid is harmful to pictures and artwork and can cause yellowing, discoloration and other damage over time.

A general guideline is that regular mounting boards are considered ok for temporary and/or very inexpensive framing. When framing original artwork, documents or precious photos that can’t be replaced (such as old prints that can’t easily be reproduced) non-archival mount boards are highly discouraged. However, framing things like posters and general home décor on this type of board is fine.

Before you make the decision, it’s important to understand what will happen to your art over time. When using this type of mount board, minor decay in the artwork can start occurring within 5 years. This will vary dramatically based on the type of framing components, the environment (light, temperature, humidity) of the frame package, the chemistry of the print, and the type of mounting. Although some decay may occur, it may not be very noticeable without doing a comparison with the original.

When to use Archival-Quality Mount Board

Archival, or conservation quality, mount board will better protect your picture over time. Archival quality board usually has the following characteristics:

  • Composed of acid free material
  • Composed of lignin-free material
  • Buffered to help maintain the alkaline pH

These measures help ensure the mount board doesn’t contain any properties that will produce harmful acid over time. This style will be advertised as acid-free, archival quality, museum quality, conservation quality, or may have the term “rag” which denotes a cotton base, in the product title.

Bainbridge also produces a mount board with Micro Chamber technology, called Artcare™, that goes a step further and allows their archival products to actively absorb harmful components entering the framing package. This can be especially useful in the case of foamboard. Archival foamboard will have an archival mounting surface to protect the print, but the foam in the center will out gas over time. The Bainbridge product will absorb this out gassing.

Now that you understand the differences in archival versus non-archival mount board, you can decide which is best for your DIY picture framing project.

About the author

author

Mark Rogers is an amateur photographer and the founder of Frame Destination, Inc. In 2004 Mark realized the framing industry was not keeping up with the evolution of photography via new digital technology and started Frame Destination in his garage. Now his company has thousands of do-it-yourself framing customers across the US that it helps with its 11,000 square feet production facility in Dallas, TX.

2 thoughts on “What is Archival Mounting Board?”

  • Katharine

    I've been reading about mounting on acid-free foam core and am quite interested for a few reasons.

    I always print on matte art paper (Aurora Natural from your friends at Red River), and my images do not need or want glass. Plus, I always crop to non-standard sizes. Always. Which presents problems for every component I have to buy, especially since the cost needs to stay down.

    I am seeking an inexpensive way to produce images saleable in, say, a coffee shop, or displayable at a library or other nice-but-modest setting.

    All this together makes me think that maybe foam core or art board or some such could be my answer, but I've read that an inkjet print will be more prone to humidity-related changes in size that may make some mounting methods not work.

    I am open to displaying/selling either without a frame or in one; willing to consider a matte but would prefer to do without; but again, the budget is on the low side.

    What would be my best bet for a truly custom sized mounting method that would work for my situation? I know you sell custom by the inch, but usually this would not get me to the needed ratio. Is there a way to cut neatly and accurately myself? Or will you cut even more custom?

    Also, what would be my best method for attaching my image to the board that will not show and will not allow the image to ripple in the weather changes? Again, using matte inkjet output?

    Of course, I am open to solutions that use your products. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Mark Rogers

    Katharine, there are different options, but it depends on what you comfortable with doing and your budget. Please give us a call so we can discuss with you.

    Reply

2 Item(s)

Leave a Reply