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Compare results - spray and brayer vs cold press vacuum mount

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James Keuning

Grumbler in Training
Oct 1, 2017
St Paul, MN
I'm an amateur framer and I am taking my first venture into the world of mounting posters to form core. Everything I've worked on so far has been hinged onto foam core with normal mats behind glass. Now I am framing some big (46"x30") posters and the hinge technique is not going to work. These are normal low quality posters but I've built some cool maple frames and I've found a local acrylite supplier so I'm venturing into the acrylic world also. I am going to mount the posters with no mats, probably touching the glass. I might use a thin mat or spacers, but whatever I do in that regard, I want to mount the posters.

I have an opportunity to purchase a cold mount vacuum unit for a price I can deal with (cheaper than professionally mounting my four posters) and I'm strongly considering buying it. But I wonder if I can get the same results with spray adhesive and a brayer. Assuming that I don't need to be efficient - I can take as long as I need to do it right - am I just as well to skip the vacuum unit? I mean, I love gadgets and I have the room, but I also like to proceed simply if I can.

Thanks in advance, I've learned a lot from this site!
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Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
May 19, 2000
Suburban Central Ohio
I guess most framers would g with a heat press, because heat-activated mounting adhesives are very versatile.

But if your choices are (A) cold vacuum mounting or (B) spray mounting, then buy the cold vacuum press and use a prepared paste, such as VacuGlue 300 or SureMount. Or, if there is no concern for long-term preservation, you could even use ordinary wallpaper paste. (But I wouldn't, because it probably isn't as smooth, and may not have the mold inhibitors contained in the first two brand-name suggestions.)

The issues involved are health, cost, and permanence. Spray adhesives require proper ventilation and some method of defeating overspray that settles everywhere, including your lungs. Trouble is, you can't get it out of your lungs. Ever. And it is carcinogenic. That alone is enough reason to avoid spray adhesives, IMO. A mask may not provide enough protection, and does nothing to prevent the sticky mess on every shop surface. On the other hand, most water-based pastes involve no such sticky mess, and no health hazards whatsoever.

On a per-frame basis, sprays are among the most expensive adhesives used in framing. A can of cheap spray adhesive might cost $7 and mount two posters - three if they're small. On the other hand, $7 worth of water-based paste would mount dozens of them.

Spray adhesives involve complex, solvent-based chemistry and propellants. Over time, the adhesive bond weakens, and eventually goes dead. Also, consistent application over the entire surface area is essential, which requires some care and a little skill to achieve. On the other hand, water-based pastes are chemically non-invasive and stable for the long term. The moist paste soaks into the paper surfaces and sort of welds them together in a way that is similar to how matboard layers are bonded together. If done right, a vacuum-wet-mount should outlive all of us.

In sum, my recommendation would be to get the vacuum press, a batch of wet paste, a Tupperware marinating container, and an ordinary 8" paint roller. Trim the handle of the paint roller to barely fit into the container without falling into the paste. Pour about 1 cup of paste into the container and use the paint roller to apply it to your mounting substrate, then seal up the container with the paint roller in there. In my shop, this method has been used for over 30 years. To my surprise, there have been no problems with mold, mildew, or dried-out paste - except once when we forgot to seal the container after using it. The worst problem was that we had to replace the paint roller handle once or twice a year, because its metal shaft began to rust.
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SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Nov 7, 2005
Eastern Ontario
Canal Gallery
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Not one framer here will tell you to use spray adhesive. It will fail.

I use a heated vacuum press, and when doing unsigned posters and prints, laminate them and skip the glass. In the past, bonding to foam core has caused problems, due to bowing, so I use HDF, or Masonite. Great results.

3M spray is just an unpleasant memory.
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SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Mar 2, 2003
I've been using a vacuum press for 34 years, it works great.
I tried dry mounting for a while, not happy with the results & process.
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