What is archival foamboard?

There are a number of differences between archival and non-archival versions of foamcore and these differences will vary between different manufacturers.

A general guideline is that regular foamboard and regular matboard are considered ok for temporary and/or very inexpensive framing. I am not a conservator, but I have heard that minor decay in the artwork will start to occur 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 type of mounting. Although some decay may occur, it may not be very noticeable without doing an A/B comparison with the original.

Archival mat board and foam board will usually have the following characteristics:
Composed of acid free material
Composed of lignin-free material
Buffered to help maintain the alkaline pH

Bainbridge has a 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 foam board 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.

About the 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 foamboard?”

  • 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!

  • 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.


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