Finished framed oils

Sherry Lee

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 25, 2002
Phoenix, Az.
I went to a class in Jan. that discussed dust cover applications for framed oils. The philosophy in Jan., 2004 was that oils DO NOT need to breathe and use of an intact dustcover IS appropriate (do not cut a hole for breathing purposes as it exposes that hole design to the elements).

I'm puzzled about was mentioned that a piece of foamcore could also be placed over the back of the stretcher bars......I believe small screws were used. Then place the offsets. Then the dustcover was placed over the entire frame. Questions:

1) Is the purpose of this foamcore application to keep fingers from puncturing the duscover?

2) When oils extend out from the frame, doesn't this add 'unwanted bulk'?? Could a piece of artcare matboard be used instead? Also applied with small screws? Or turnbuttons?

3) And is it 100% certain that adding a substance like foamboard or matboard is OK? I would think that even a conservation dustcover would be porous enough to allow SOME air movement, but would FB or MB!

I use the aluminum barrier frame sealing tape and the rabbet foam tape (both by LINECO), but want the back to be as protected as can be without inviting problems 'down the road'.

Thanks much for any further education/updates on this process!!
I belive the foamecore or other hard backing is to protect the canvas from dents. People tend to lean art, and sometimes thats against something that will ding the oil from behind. We use 4mm coreplast and then put the dustcover over the whole package.
The subject line should have read "FINISHING Framed Oils".

And to be specific, these oils HAVE been sprayed with varnish (should that have anything to do with 'breathing').
Oil paintings don't breathe but they do sustain damage from having things poked through the back of them.

You're welcome to come take a look at the one hanging above my fireplace that was carelessly handled by movers.*

Someday, I'll get around to repairing that.


*The movers were my son and a bunch of his friends. They hauled alot of furniture for pizza and beer so I really can't complain about the painting.
Originally posted by Kit:
*The movers were my son and a bunch of his friends. They hauled alot of furniture for pizza and beer so I really can't complain about the painting.
Yes, you should complain. They were paid very well. :cool:

Sherry, I don't see anything wrong with using matboard unless you're thinking the foot going through the back belongs to a lumberjack rather than the usual damage inflictor. Of course, Kit's movers may have such former feet.

We use ragmat a lot on the backs of our stretched canvases and then cover the back with a dustcover. Looks good to the buyer and looks finished to us.

On another question, I don't see why you can't use the same staples to apply the matboard, coroplast, or f/c as you did to stretch the oil. Screws are a royal pain and show through the dustcover sometimes. I'm sure I'll be corrected if this is bad policy.
I'm sure some will gasp at this question, but why couldn't this backing board be something non-archival like flawboard? All It is touching is the stretcher. Heck, the stretcher itself is touching the artwork all the way around, and it's MADE of lignin.
You can, Rick, if you can decide that the canvas isn't "worth" it. And we do indeed use regular matboard on some of the stuff. But I find it's just as easy to buy the good stuff boards and keep them around for the purpose. It's rather like choosing to sell nothing but rags.

But you have a valid point, it would seem. Will someone address this, or hasn't it been already in the past. Am I misremembering?
Flaw board would be better than nothing.

Mat board can be used, it's just more expensive. The only reason I can think of is to reduce the amount that sticks out the back.

Second to preventing punctures,the backing board and dust cover help prevent trash from falling down between the canvas and the stretcher bar. We've all seen lumps at the edges of paintings. They got there because the painting was not not protected. Over the years those bumps can severly damage a paintng.

Paintings should not be hammered or hit. Putting staples in a painting on canvas is too much like hitting. A blow to the right canvas, even from the back can loosen the paint from the canvas. Screws cause less torture to the stretcher bar and to the painting.

I sometimes put felt bumps on the screws if they stick out too much. Most of the time I just use a backing without attaching it to the painting. Offsets hold both the painting and backing in.
That makes sense Jo........

since, in this case the stretcher bars extend beyond the frame by 1/8", I can have the offsets hold the matboard in place over the stretcher bars....I see no harm in that. Then I'll place the dustcover.

Coroplast......some day I'm going to find a local source for that 'gold'!! Every now and then I call around, but haven't found it yet!

Also, thanks for the heads up on "which movers NOT to use"!
Yet another great thread, that illustrates how
well informed Grumblers are. Current museum practice uses a puncture resistant board such
as Coroplast or Cor-x that has been screwed to
the stretcher bars to protect canvases from
attack from the back. Such backing boards also
keep the canvas from vibrating, during transit,
a real problem for older paintings. It also
keeps pollution, chemical and physical, away from
the back of the canvas. The volitile parts of
the oil paint are more likely to exit through
the varnish, than they are to be drawn into the
interior of the frame, since the ground under
the paint, whether it is acrylic or glue, will
be thicker than the varnish layer. The prior posts
demonstrate the practical wisdom of protecting the
back of a canvas and whether one uses plastic
board or mat board, such a backing should resist
punctures and pollution.

One more thought on this. Conservators screw a backing into the stretcher bars to keep it with the painting. They know that the canvas will often be shipped or stored out of a frame, so by securing it they can be assured that the canvas will always have the protection.
Jo, your post raises a question for me. If paintings shouldn't be hammered or hit--a point we would all agree to concerning the actual painting itself--how are you securing them to the stretcher bars? We use stainless steel staples on the outside edges of the bars, placed at a biased angle. These are not being inserted into the painting, just the canvas border. When stapling, you are delivering some force, but how else would you stretch it?

Even if you use nails as in some older applications, you are still "hitting." And if one accepts stapling on the sides, how does it differ from stapling on the back of the bar?
Thank you Hugh for your continued "GS&P" (Grumble Surveillance & Participation)!! I was hoping you'd see this and add your 4 cents (don't tell Ellen I said that! :eek: )

Grumblers have taken the same scenerio and answered it from 'Flawboard to Cor-x'. It just goes to show the variables we can choose from and hopefully, because of the expertise seen illustrated in this great forum, we choose appropriately for each given situation.

I'll share this with everyone because we often talk about the 'value' of a piece of art. This frame is for an original oil painting (just completed) of a 9-month old child. The artist is beyond fabulous. Though I don't know what the artist charged her customer, it deserves a healthy sticker. Despite the value of the art, and the tasteful, but pricey moulding, the completed price does not pale in comparison to the fact that, as I've been told, the parents struggled IMMENSLY to conceive this child. In this case, the 'value' is the subject!!

I will treat it accordingly! Thanks everyone!

MM, the canvas should be stretched on the bars BEFORE the painting has been painted.

I know, we see lots of paintings today that are painted without being stretched, but that doesn't make it right. In many cases painting before stretching just makes it more profitable for the labor or stock involved, just roll them in a tube and ship.

I had forgotten that the backing board helps with vibration. Your input is so appreciated, Hugh. Thank you!

From time to time a customer will want to show something the artists has written on the back of a canvas. I cut an opening in the backing board to expose the area, and on the back of the board I use a piece of clear film to cover the opening. I don't know if it is right or wrong, but is better than nothing and it keeps the bad stuff out.