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Colored Dust Cover Paper


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Dec 3, 2004
What is the best weight of paper to use for backing paper? Is 50lb. the correct thing to use? I just received a school supply catalog and they have many different colors of 50lb. paper on rolls. Green, BLue, Red, etc. If 50lb. is the right thing to use, there is a world of possibilities. Any thoughts?
Go for it!!

I prefer 50lb and was just looking into the color paper as well - I am tired of black and don't really like kraft... and thought it would be fun to have a color... or several!!

I'll probably stick with black or kraft though...

You have to go with something easy on the eye and will still look fine after a while.

You may have the best 50lb and if it is red, your customer might see red as well!

Either brown kraft or black is a safe bet.
I like the black. I wonder about the light reflection properties of a yellow or orange paper. Meaning when the picture is on the wall will the customer "see" the color of the backing paper?

For instance I color the inside lip of the rabbet when making mirror frames. The wood reflecting back is very distracting whereas with the lip being blackened it looks more finished. Would a similar phenom occur with bright colored backing paper?
I was going to add this thread today - glad this came up!

A customer brought me a 24 x 36 framed piece that I did for her a couple of years ago (she wants a different picture placed into the frame). I was surprised to see that the dust cover (Kraft black) looked bad! The paper is saggy and stiff - looks tacky.

I don't know if it is due to the dry Phoenix climate - that doesn't sound right. Or is this the nature of the paper?

Does anyone have any experience with this? I like the black look, but certainly am not happy with this outcome.
Years ago, a lot of the neighborhood framing was done at the local paint and wallpaper stores. The ends of wallpaper was commonly used for the dust cover. I know this because I owned one of them in San Diego. We sold paint, wallpaper, artists supplies, mirrors, and custom framing. It was a little hole in the wall operation of 1,500 sq ft.

Originally posted by ERIC:
There might also be a possibility of the color rubbing off.

Can you get samples?
Since it is from a School Supply catalog you could go to a neighborhood school and ask for a piece! Oh yeah, and bring some matboard scraps and your card!

Or I would assume the colored paper is the same as the stuff in art stores in the multicolor paper packs.
For the first two years, we used brown Kraft paper. Then we switched to black Kraft paper for the next 12 years.

For the past four years we have used Lineco's blue lignin free, acid free paper. It works beautifully and it will last much longer than papers of lower quality.

Incidentally, I have stopped using ATG for dustcovers. Aside from the mess of removing ATG later, the cost of white glue is much less. Both methods take about the same amount of time, but in my lmited experience, a thin line of white frame glue (such as CornerWeld) is more stable over time.
It’s just personal preference, but I prefer lighter weight (30#) Black Kraft paper if I can get it.

I think it’s easier to work with than 50#, and given that it is paper, after all, I don’t see that puncture resistance of the 50# stuff makes it significantly better than the thinner variety.

However, that being said, regardless of what I order, distributors generally send me what they have, so I’m stuck with 50# a lot of the time.
Sherry Lee,

I think it’s just the nature of the beast. Black Kraft is, perhaps, not the best backing material to use either for puncture resistance or looks (see previous threads), but I use it mainly ‘cause it’s cheap.

Although certainly not in the muggy, prickly heat belt like the people in Florida or in the Carolinas, we have our share of very humid days in the summer. The Kraft paper will absorb moisture and can get very puckery especially if it is initially spritzed with water to try to make it drum tight. Anecdotally, it seems to sag more than if we had left it alone.

Given its hygroscopic nature, I’m not surprised that the paper in your neck of the woods gets saggy, dry and brittle. Black Kraft will also fade pretty quickly.

I don’t worry about it. It’s on the back of the frame, after all. Once it’s on the wall, it seldom gets seen unless a nosy mother-in-law is checking on the housekeeping abilities of her son’s wife.
I use 40 or 50, depending on what they have in stock. No matter, it always seems to be a little different each time I replace a role.

Always black !!! Like Jim, I used brown kraft the first few rolls, but the black is way classier. Although, I must admit I would be a slob with the glue, especially on the huge pieces. I better stick with the ATG.

dont think it matters toooo much about the40/50 # 'weight' of the papers as much as how it is 'finished'.....hard or soft....most of the stuff I've gotten for 2 years is very soft---more like blotter paper surface---I recently redid a piece I had done 2+ years ago and the surface of that was VERY 'hard' and was not a chore to get off even after the time frame...the stuff I get now wont pull up intact after 5 min! things aint what they used to be
Unless the item is a "value-priced" one, :rolleyes: , I use Lineco's blue. My last roll of 50# brown kraft was unrecycled and great: its replacement is recycled and almost unacceptable. I just added a dollar to my fit charge to cover the extra expense of Lineco.

Jim, explain again please how you do the white glue thing: we went through this several years ago and I need a refresher because I'm not all that good at it.

'Splain, please?
Originally posted by MerpsMom:
...Jim, explain again please how you do the white glue thing...
The CornerWeld squirt bottle on my fitting table has a 1/16" or so opening. I squirt a very thin line of glue all around the perimeter of the frame's back, within 1/8" or so of the edge.

Then, I lay on an oversized sheet of paper, and burnish all around with a bone folder (any burnishing tool would do). Have your paper ready and work fast with the glue -- it starts to develop a skin in about 20 seconds.

The burnishing is important, as it helps the glue soak into the paper and increases adhesion. Trim as usual.
I prefer 60# unfortunately it only comes in brown. I like that it is a stiffer paper and handles much better. There is less air that seems to get in the 50# and it cuts cleaner I think
I still like the look of black. However, I was not happy with LJ's or other suppliers "black kraft." Framing Supplies has the best looking texture--a little shine like LJ used to have.
The best way to use white glue, I use plain old Elmer's, is to lay it on with a short nap paint touch up roller. Get a piece of corrugated cardboard about 8"X 20", pour a small amount of white glue on it, load your roller and lay an even coat on the back of the frame.

If your using Kraft paper, mist it with water first, so the fibers relax. Lay this damp Kraft paper onto the glued up frame, pull it tight and trim it. Have a wet piece of terry cloth handy to clean up excess glue.

Wash your roller out or toss it into a can of water, then wash it at the end of the day. You have to spin it off before you can use it again.

Do not throw away the corrugated cardboard. Let the glue dry and just keep using it over and over, more you use it, the better it works.

be aware that some mouldings will require pre gluing. Old barn wood and mouldings that have a lacquered back or a finish. Lay a thin, even coat of glue, let it dry completely, then apply a new coat of glue and your dust cover. A lot of LJs mouldings require pre gluing. It is no big deal, a thin coat of white glue dries in a few minutes.

When we first bought the store, I imeediately switched to black kraft paper cause I liked the way it looked. Then one day I thought "Wonder if that black comes off on someone's wall on humid weather"? Had visions of someone moving their picture and there being a big black rectangle left on the wallpaper!

I immediately switched back to brown. I suppose I could test the black, but I think I would still feel insecure about it.

Artful Framer
Clarkston, MI
Originally posted by JRB:
The best way to use white glue...is to lay it on with a short nap paint touch up roller...If your using Kraft paper, mist it with water first...Have a wet piece of terry cloth handy to clean up excess glue...Wash your roller out...be aware that some mouldings will require pre gluing...Lay a thin, even coat of glue, let it dry completely, then apply a new coat of glue and your dust cover...
JRB, your description reminds me why I started using ATG in the first place. The thin-line-of-glue-then-burnish way is about as simple as rolling on that bubblegum-on-a-roll.

Some batches of Black Kraft that I’ve had will get black goop on your hands if you get it sopping wet, but I’ve never seen or heard of the dye/pigments leach because of ambient humidity. Most frames are separated from the wall by bumpers, anyway, so it shouldn't be a concern.
Jim, it's just the way I have been doing it for my entire career, works well for me. I find it fast and simple. The reason I do not use ATG is not necessarily to save time, I use glue because I like a drum tight backing. I use a roller because I want the backing to stay tight and flat all the way to the trim line.

Myself, I think using ATG to hold dust covers is something you would expect from Michaels or Hobby Lobby, or some other "crank-em-out", "chop & join" operation, not from a custom framing shop.

Jim, I'm short so when working on a large piece, I'll throw the oversize sheet of backing paper over the back of the prepped piece. If I do that with white glue beaded all around the edge...and the paper moves...won't I be squishing the glue and spreading it around? Or is that the idea?
Just seems like it's messier.

I'm willing to try it again. Do you wait for the glue to dry before trimming? Seems it would be impossible to trim neatly if moist. I will not spray the back with water. And I don't think ATG is necessarily cheap looking: depends on how you were taught.
Originally posted by MerpsMom:
...I'll throw the oversize sheet of backing paper over the back of the prepped piece. If I do that with white glue beaded all around the edge...and the paper moves...won't I be squishing the glue and spreading it around? Or is that the idea?...Do you wait for the glue to dry before trimming?...
Yes, spreading the glue out to the edge is the idea of burnishing. Throwing over the paper and sliding it into place is my standard procedure, too.

By the way, burnishing is just as important if you use ATG, too. That pressure is what activates the PRESSURE-sensitive adhesive. Without burnishing, it may come loose sooner instead of later.

No, I don't wait for the glue to dry. By the time I go all around the frame with the burnishing bone, that very small bead of glue is thoroughly squished and soaked into the surfaces. Almost nothing dribbles over the frame's edge if you do it right. Knowing how much glue to apply took about a day of practice.

JRB, I'm with MerpsMom, about wetting the dustcover paper to make it drum tight. That serves no important purpose, but it could introduce moisture into the frame. Is there a way to know if some of it evaporates to the inside of the frame? If the frame is filled, the dry paper lays flat on the final filler board, anyway. No finger punctures.
OH man, I am so glad to read that no one is using pink paper for their backing. We hired a young girl to help on the design table and putting on backs - we call her Pinkie since she always has something pink on.

Anyway, for at least the last 4 weeks, I hear daily how much better it would be for us if we changed from the black to a pink backing.
Well, it would set you apart from all other frame shops!

Or, for the sake of brainstorming, as long as the roll of pink paper lasts, you could advertise that a percentage of the sale will go to breast cancer research.