PFG, Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
Nov 19, 2002
United Kingdom, West Sussex Coast. (Bottom centre)
I've tentatively asked this on other topics but not had an answer.

Most jobs on paper are matted with something, mounted onto something and then backed with something and dustcovered/sealed - yes?

Is there anything wrong with using artcare foamboard as a combined mount/backing?
I'm not certain how you define 'backing'.

I see this done 90% of the time (?right/?wrong):

Artwork (even originals) is conservation hinged or mounted to "a/f" foamcore and the mat is hinged to that substrate. That 'package' is dropped onto the glazing, the packaged is nailed into place and then a dustcover applied.

I personally see art mounted onto rag matboard with 'a/f' foamboard substrate very seldom - usually for very conservation type framing.

I wonder what percentages others see (or do) between the two methods.
Originally posted by Sherry Lee:

I'm not certain how you define 'backing'.

Artwork (even originals) is conservation hinged or mounted to "a/f" foamcore and the mat is hinged to that substrate. That 'package' is dropped onto the glazing, the packaged is nailed into place and then a dustcover applied.

So using artcare instead of "a/f" is an upgrade.

I ask because over here the 'proper' way to do it is to hinge the work onto what we call an acid free 'undermount' and then use MDF or fluted brown board as a frame backing. Dust covers are not used, the MDF/fluted thing, is pinned in and sealed. I have been using the artcare foamboard as a combined 'undermount' and frame backing for some time, but sealing it in and not using a dustcover, but that will change as soon as I find the right supplier for Tyvec over here - getting close!
My way of looking at it is that I am using artcare against the back of the artwork, which is more than most do here, so if foamboard is also OK for a frame backing, why not combine the two and save money, The cost of a good acid-free 'undermount' and separate backing is more than the same sq ft price of artcare f/board I'm also saving on labour.

For higher levels I would use alpharag artcare and artcare foamboard.
I have just been using artcare foamcore for my mounting boards; mounting the artwork directly onto the artcare foamboard. Hope this is okay as I've been doing this for years...
someone on here sells these things that are used just for that. Not much help here, but whoever it is maybe they will jump in and suppply you with the needed info. you would have to use what ever backing board your using and then apply this strip down with screws all the way around. This would effectively seal out any unwanted stuff..
To pass the MCPF and to meet traditionally accepted guidelines, the art is hinged with Japanese paper hinges, wheat starch paste to a full four ply prerservation grade back or mount board to which a full four ply mat has been attached with linen tape along the longest side. An Artcare foamboard is acceptable for preservation grade framing behind the back or mount board. The foam board would be called a filler board. Some people have questioned the use of foamboard but it is now widly acceptable in the housing. Paul Storch, an object conservator, said there is not enough outgassing to harm art.
Like this:

"Acid free" foam board is occasionally used as a back board aka matboard, but this is not standard preservation practice.

The reason for this is,IMO,that the foam board does not have enough ability to buffer changes in RH. It is only a thin paper sandwiching hydrophobic styrene foam. So if foamboard is used for back/mount board, any changes in atmospheric moisture would have to be absorbed/desorbed by the artworks paper support, without the help of a 4ply cellulose back/mountboard. This will cause rippling in the art's paper support as it shrinks and expands according to changing moisture content.

Having the 4-ply behind the art helps to even out moisture content changes, thus reducing chances of rippling.

So even good quality foamboard like Artcare is no substitute for 4 ply alpha cellulose matboard being used behind the art.

This is my reasoning; hope it helps.

That does make sense, Rebecca. Out of curiousity, though, wouldn't the 4-ply mattes on top of the artwork help absorb some of that relative humidity? Often there are double mattes, if not triple 4-ply mattes in a frame.
Another reason to use a window mat/back mat combination is to save the future from possible
accidents. Someone who is taking the frame apart
may not realize that the art is hinged to the
foam-centered board and may use undue force, if
the board becomes stuck in the frame.

That is a very good point, too, Hugh. It never ceases to amaze me what I learn on the Grumble. I always thought I was trying to frame as conservationally as possible within the client's budget, but I guess I was missing a piece of the puzzle.
OK - so this practice is not best then, that's Ok.

So - as I use artcare as default, I will move to 4 ply mat and 'back' mount - both artcare. What use is my artcare foamboard now, what is the point of adding a further 'ply' of the stuff?

Why did they make it if not to be in contact with the artwork.

Artcare restore - not for 'full' conservation obviously - but if you believe them.......
and should you also put a separate foamboard back with that too - two layers of hydro-whotsit stuff?
The four ply backboard needs a filler board behind it for added strength. It will tend to buckle out if a filler board is not behind it.
Originally posted by nona powers:
The four ply backboard needs a filler board behind it for added strength. It will tend to buckle out if a filler board is not behind it.
Yes, yes - BUT if I am using 4 ply ARTCARE backboard why do I need to add ARTCARE foamboard and not artfoam/other foamboard. What, I am asking, IS the point of artcare foamboard if it ain't in contact with the artwork? Also when WOULD you put it next to the artwork?
You could consider the ArtCare foam board filler as another safety net. The zeolites in the backmat would tend to trap pollutants emitted by artwork,and the zeolites in the filler board would trap pollutants from the outside environment.

You might put the foamboard next to the art if you are making storage folders for art while they are waiting to be framed.

Just suggestions.

In my 2004-2005 Artcare Archival Products specifier, it has a section describing the various types of Artcare products in a section called "An Envelope of Active Protection". A portion of this section reads as follows for:

2) MOUNTBOARDS: Alphamount Artcare, Alpharag Artcare or Artcare Archival Foamboard protects artwork from pollutants entering the back of the framed piece and from acid by-products within the frame.

Then it goes on to say:

3) FILLERBOARDS: Artcare Archival Foamcore or Artcare Corrugate provides an added layer of Artcare protection against external pollutants in addition to physical protection against handling and contamination.

My question is, why does Bainbridge list the Artcare Archival Foamcore under the "MOUNTBOARDS" section if you aren't supposed to use it as a backing for artwork and only supposed to use it as a fillerboard? Doesn't this information seem misleading? I thought since the Artcare Archival Foamcore was listed under the "Mountboards" section, that it was suitable to use as a mountboard