Matboard Quality

HB

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Does anyone know if there has been extensive testing done by a private (non-biased) source on the various matboards.
I am wondering, as I know many others are too, if there really is anything different between a Peterborough Accent & a Crescent Select & an Artique conservation board & a TrueVue/Miller/Crescent conservation (1991etc) board. How does a Bainbridge Artique actually compare to a Crescent Cotton (1710). AND, how does one of the first sets mentioned above actually compare with one of the latter?

They are all acid & lignen free, & I believe about the same acidity ratings with their grup (as I grouped them)

{Scratching my matboard}
 

Jim Miller

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Matboard manufacturers probably commission professional laboratories to perform the extensive testing on their products, but I doubt they have the facilities to do it all by themselves.

The question about "non-biased" testing has come up before, but I've never understood why. Is there some reason to believe the manufacturers are making untrue claims about their products? I think that is highly unlikely.

To my knowledge, the only unique product among the popular alphacellulose board brands is Bainbridge ArtCare, which contains zeolite "molecular trap technology". That additive is recognized as a benefit in converting or trapping chemical contaminants in a closed-up frame package. That may be useful, but is it usually necessary?

The US Library of Congress and probably some other institutions have commissioned their own testing for their own purposes. They aren't about to share their limited test results, but if there were serious discrepancies between their tests and a manufacturer's claims, would there not be consequences?
 

nona powers

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I visited the Bainbridge lab and yes they extensively test every board before it is introduced. They have about four scientists that work for them in the lab.

Many years ago, the Library of Congress provided purchasing specifications that mat boards had to meet or they wouldn’t buy them. FACTS, Fine Art Care and Treatment Standards (artfacts.org) list many of the tests a board has to pass to be considered safe for preservation framing and to meet specifications set like the Library of Congress. The boards have to be a specific thickness, be fade, bleed and abrasion resistant as well as a PH of 8.5, so it can absorb acids from the air and come down no further than 7, or neutral over it's lifetime. In the Bainbridge lab they actually immerse the board in water, they are rubbed at a certain pressure the prescribed amount of time, they expose them to light also for a specific length of time and they are tested for acid content. If they do not pass all tests, they cannot be introduced as an Alphamat or Alpharag and they will not contain Artcare, or zeolites. A few years ago Bainbridge introduced the Rice paper line, which is a very popular line but is not sold as a preservation product because they could not get it pure enough. It is still a very good board, but does not meet all the standards for preservation framing so should not go directly against the art.

If you look at the back of mat boards corner samples produced by Bainbridge, the ones that contain Artcare will say so and are totally suitable for preservation framing. I don’t know if other companies designate on their corner samples whether they are suitable for preservation framing or not, but they should. Maybe it is something we as framers could demand from manufactueres.

I sat in on a lecture many years ago taught by Merrily Smith, a person who worked for the library of Congress and she said they needed a material that would absorb the acids of the papers and objects they store or display, They could put them in good storage containers and they would still deteriorate because the objects or art themselves contained acids. Bainbridge added zeolites, Artcare, to their matboards and it does work very well to help protect art in a frame housing.

If you are in doubt as to the quality of any matboard you plan to use, ask the manufacturer if the boards meets all standards for preservation framing established by FACTS. With so much information about preservation framing materials common knowledge now a days, manufacturers cannot hide behind marketing terms, they have to fess up, or they will be heavily criticized pretty quickly.

Also, the more educators, writers and manufactures use definitive words and phrases to describe products, the less confusion there will be as to suitability of products and uses.

This is very long and sounds like an ad for Bainbridge. I mean it as informational and helpful. I used to be an educational consultant for them, no longer am, but knew the answers to your question. I hope it is helpful.
 

Framar

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I have no wish to Frankenthread HB's fine thread, but Nona's detailed answer reminded me of a question I've had rattling around in my head for a while now.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to save all of the scraps of matboard which contain Artcare zeolites and use them interspersed with items being stored - like papers, linens, books, etc.?

We could make little packets of these scraps to hand out as a bonus to our customers for their storage needs.

Right now I am stripping and varnishing my cedar chest and I have lined the inside with Artcare Foam board, taping the edges with Lineco metalized framing tape. I plan to store items in this chest, like old quilts and such, wrapped in acid-free tissue but I thought I might just start saving those Artcare scraps for inclusion.

Why throw away zeolites???
 

Mike LeCompte CPF

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The fact that a top Philadelphia conservator chose Bainbridge to be used on original Audubon prints (PFM last month) is good enough and endorsement enough for me.

Gee---wonder why they didn't choose crescent?

O Framar: since zeolites are also in kitty litter you could shred the pieces and use them for your cat or birdcage I would suppose
 

Uncle Eli

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Originally posted by Jim Miller:


The question about "non-biased" testing has come up before, but I've never understood why. Is there some reason to believe the manufacturers are making untrue claims about their products? I think that is highly unlikely.

Highly Unlikely? It is always in the companies interest; be it Mat board sales, or Car sales, to make their product look as appealing as possible, aven if that means stretching the truth or selective truth telling. Only giving out the information that helps them. The term Un-bias in product sales canon would mean telling the WHOLE TRUTH!!!
 

Jeff Rodier

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Originally posted by Jim Miller:

The question about "non-biased" testing has come up before, but I've never understood why. Is there some reason to believe the manufacturers are making untrue claims about their products? I think that is highly unlikely.

[/QUOTE
-----------------------------------------------------

Let's not forget the Crescent campaign that stamped all regular boards "ACID FREE".

I bet there are still millions of pieces that consumers believe are protected because we all know that no manufacturer would mislead the consumer.
 

Canton Crew

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I'm with HB and Uncle Eli, here. Testing done by any group funded by the company whose product is being tested is suspect to say the least - and I think that is a problem in our industry. I'm not saying the products are no good (Bainbridge, Crescent, or TruVu for that matter), just that truly independant verification of claims made by the companies would be nice to see. Otherwise we're being asked to buy the shine they are putting on their own products. (Not that I have anything against 'shine, some of the stuff I've had is pretty good).

Joe -
 

Rogatory

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I don't know about company's lying to us, they understand if they did lie someone would find out. I did an "independent" study on TruVue glass and the results matched their results, even a little better than theirs. Look at This.
 

Canton Crew

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Not saying they're lying, but everybody likes to spin a bit - especially if they believe in their product. You know - it depends on what your definition of "is" is...

Joe
 

RoboFramer

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When comparing matboard spec I found that Bainbridge artcare, be it alphaMAT or alphaRAG, outspecs a lot of competition at the same price WITHOUT the zeolite bit. It's a bonus; it happens to cut very nicely and has a good range of colour and texture too.

Plus foamboard and 'restore'

Love it!
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Jeff Rodier:
Let's not forget the Crescent campaign that stamped all regular boards "ACID FREE".

I bet there are still millions of pieces that consumers believe are protected because we all know that no manufacturer would mislead the consumer. [/QB]
If consumers believe their "acid free" mats offer long-term protection, then they were misled by framers, not the manufacturer.

Cresecent was truthful in claiming their matboard is "acid free". If they had claimed it would remain acid free forever, or if they claimed that no long-term contaminants remained in the board, that would be misleading. The truth is that we know how they achieved "acid free", and we know the product's limitations. The only framers misled are the ones who stopped reading after the first line of the catalog description.

More to the point, if a "non-biased" laboratory tested that product -- or any others for which specifications are published -- I bet the results would confirm the manufacturer's published specifications.

Testing is expensive. What would be a "non-biased source" of funding to pay for it? It would seem that any entity willing to put up a few hundred thousand dollars for thorough testing would have some kind of stake in the results. What skeptic would trust that the funder is "non-biased", regardless of reality?

The US Library of Congress, and probably other high-finance institutions, have tested some framing products on their own, for their own purposes. If there were discrepancies, don't you think there would have been consequences?

Has anyone here ever heard of a case where a framing product manufacturer purposely published inaccurate test data or usage specifications?

Where there's no smoke, there's no fire.
 

osgood

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The term 'acid free' is one I avoid because of the confusion between the two words 'free' and 'neutral'.
Most mats that in the past have been sold as "acid free" were probably "acid neutral".

Doesn't the word 'free' when used with the word 'acid' indicate that there is no 'acid' in it? If so, then it is really a lie to say the mat is 'acid free', because there is acid existant. It has been buffered to a neutral state and the chemicals in the wood pulp will produce more acid.

It's my opinion that whoever says that a mat is 'acid free' when it is only acid neutral, is not telling the truth.
 

nona powers

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I sat in an audience in Los Angeles when the "acid free" boards were first introduced and heard Don Pierce say they were suitable for most art. Crescent also produced a booklet that stated the same thing; I think I still have a copy of it. At the time, I found the statement to be confusing and misleading. It’s the main reason I am so passionate about companies publishing specification sheets. I chaired the committee in our local PPFA chapter that investigated and wrote a Consumer Guide to Preservation Framing for our local chapter members to give out when people were price shopping because there was also confusion about methods as well as materials for preservation framing. It was very difficult at the time to get accurate information from anyone because spec sheets were not done much. Most framers and certainly consumers had no idea what was suitable and what was not.

There is still confusion today. A few years ago there was a protracted dialog about zeolites here on the Grumble and some framers still don't see any benefit in them, though it has been proven there is. Some people still say cotton mat boards are superior to purified wood pulp for preservation framing even though it has been published they are not.

There can never be enough testing or publishing about products and the more independent the better. I agree with Jim that companies don't lie about their products, but I do think they chose words and phrases that make their products look as good as possible and want products to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. A few years ago one company advertised that no glues were used in their foam board production. Glue is not used in any foam board production; it's a heat fusing process.

Framers must stay informed, ask questions and challenge the manufacturers to be as open about their products as possible. Don't just look at marketing phrases, actually understand what is being said and sometimes look a little deeper. Don't distrust, just ask for clarification.
 

HB

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Jim

Its not a matter of me not trusting anyone, its simply proper & wise to have things verified by other sources, especially sources which have no vested interest in the "results" of the testing. Obviously a test will not be done unless someone pays for it, & obviously the payee will have an interest (such as framers) in the results. We want accurate results, not particular ones, so we would be non-biased.

Many would love to sell you a car, Jim! Frankly, I wouldn't buy a vehicle from my best friend without having it checked by an outside certified professional. It would relieve my friend from being responsible for anything they might have missed, & would be a nice way to verify their claims. The matboard companies should do the same.

As a aside - I have a lot of respect for companies that monitor & respond to these forums such as the suppliers & software companies that are on here once in a while. I can't remember ever having the matboards companies on here. (I may stand to be corrected on this - I am not on here as often as most)
 

Pat Murphey

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If you don't trust Bainbridge and Crescent to deliver conservation grade mat boards, you might as well just go crawl into a hole. WHO are you going to buy from?

Pat :D
 

Jeff Rodier

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Originally posted by osgood:


Doesn't the word 'free' when used with the word 'acid' indicate that there is no 'acid' in it? If so, then it is really a lie to say the mat is 'acid free', because there is acid existant. It has been buffered to a neutral state and the chemicals in the wood pulp will produce more acid.

This is my point exactly. Bainbridge at the time offered "Buffered" boards and never made the claim that it was acid free.

Also, in the early 80's Denton Vaacum made claims about Denglass which were absolutely false. These claims sent them into bankruptcy. The main reason why this company was sued out of business is because the art that used Denglass was typically very expensive and the owners of the art sued the manufacturer.
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Jeff Rodier:
...in the early 80's Denton Vaacum made claims about Denglass which were absolutely false. These claims sent them into bankruptcy. The main reason why this company was sued out of business is because the art that used Denglass was typically very expensive and the owners of the art sued the manufacturer. [/QB]
You make a very good point here, Jeff.

Any manufacturer that overstates or misrepresents test data -- their own or a competitor's -- would risk costly litigation, or at least a loss of credibility in the marketplace. I can't see Crescent, Bainbridge, or any of our major manufacturers taking that risk. What reason could be compelling enough to risk such a marketing trainwreck?
 

Jay H

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I think they are guiltier of under representing their product.

I have serious doubts about many of the "white core" lines. They seem to age much like a alpha or rag board. Sometimes it seems like they are the exact same board. Is it really efficient to have special runs of boards for such a small line like whitecore? Of coarse if that could be proven, their profits would drop significantly because everybody would jump onto these white core boards.
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by HB:
...Obviously a test will not be done unless someone pays for it, & obviously the payee will have an interest (such as framers) in the results. We want accurate results, not particular ones, so we would be non-biased.
I'm not sure we could rely on framers to be non-biased. I've asked a LOT of framers about their matboard preferences, and it is amazing how many are brand-biased. Some will use only ArtCare because of the zeolite additive. Others will use only RagMat because they feel the cotton content is superior. The truth is that either product would be perfectly suitable for nearly any preservation framing job -- but many framers disagree.

The point is, I doubt any funding source could be found that would be unbiased.

Many would love to sell you a car, Jim! Frankly, I wouldn't buy a vehicle from my best friend without having it checked by an outside certified professional.
Evaluating a private owner's claims about a used car is not a valid comparison. Distrusting the product claims of manufacturers is what you're talking about.

So, where would you take a brand new BMW, Mercedes Benz, Chevy, or Ford, to make sure the manufacturer's claims are accurate?
 

nona powers

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If my understanding about white cor is correct, some of it is a very good quality, but some of it is not. It cannot pass all of the tests for preservation framing and cannot be sold as a preservation quality product. If the framer uses them as such, they are taking their chances.

The Library of Congress will not buy products that do not meet their purchasing specs. If you read PMMB-2000 at www.artfacts.org, the tests matboards must meet to be suitable for preservation framing are listed there. These are independent testing methods.

How many of the boards on the market can meet all of these tests? Does it say they do on the back of the mat samples? Do the samples actually state they are suitable for preservation framing? Shouldn't they? There would be no confusion if they actually stated on each sample: hey, folks, we are proud to state that our mat board is suitable for preservation framing.
 

Canton Crew

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H.B. - I think you are making an argument that is going right over everybody's head. But I agree with you whole-heartedly.

Joe
 

RoboFramer

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Over here the Fine Art Trade Guild have scorned the term 'acid free' - alternatives?

"Free of acid" or "Non-acidic" Well excuuuuuuuse ME!

Another of their terms is "Cotton museum"

To the man on the street that sounds like a PLACE!

What is a good term that the cutomer can relate to or make sense of - how about "archival?"

They can buy "acid free" watercolour paper and everything that scrapbookers use must be "acid free" too!
 
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