Mounting on MDF or Aluminum


Jul 7, 2004
Hi framers,

I am a professional photographer and have recently purchased professional framing equipment. I have experience in the mounting and framing of my work but not on the level I want to achieve.

I want to be able to mount my work on either MDF or Aluminum and I am wanting to know what adhesive should be used that dosent require the need for a press. There is a framer in Australia who does this with Ilfochrome prints so I know it can be done somehow.???

Also where do you obtain framing quality Aluminum or MDF.

Thanks in advance for any replies.


You may wish to post this question to the The Aussie Picture Framers Forum or the newly created Profile Magazine Forum (Australia)

This second forum is very new, but should gain some momentum as it is sponsored and operated by Profile Magazine, sponsors of the Australian Framing Fair in Melbourne / Sydney.

Welcome to the Grumble!

Welcome to the Grumble, Auzziematt.

My first question to you, as a professional photographer, is how do you qualify MDF and aluminum as a mounting substrate? I realize that many framers and photographers down under use MDF for mounting art and photographs but I feel that MDF is highly acidic and is not the proper substrate to mount anything of lasting value. If you are mounting your photos for high end sale in a limited edition or large format high resolution prints, you may want to consider some other form of mounting substrate for your photographs. Everything about MDF is acidic, the wood fibers used in its manufacture along with the binders and adhesives that help to form the board. I would question the rationale of using any of this board behind anything that is valued for more than temporary use.

Regarding adhesives, if you are using MDF to mount your images, you have already condemned them to a shortened life and whatever adhesive that would hold them down permanently would seem to work regardless of the nature or condition of the adhesive. Ilfochromes are sensitive to any flaw in the mounting board and would show these flaws on the surface of the image so one must be very careful as to the choice of substrates used with these images.

I am quite sure that you will get some useful replies from professional photographers and framers to these questions. As far as buying mounting boards, I don't know if anyone but possibly John Raines could help you in this area. You wouldn't want to pay the freight from the U.S. to Australia for mounting substrates and I don't know if any of us would be that knowledgeable of the distributors on your side of the water that could supply you with your materials.



Well, John was right in there a bit ahead of me on this one!! So I would concur that the Aussie Grumble would be the next logical place to go for answers. Those ladies and gents seem to have a handle on what's available in Aussieland.
Since photographers are the creators of the works
they produce, they have a degree of latitude that
is not there for framers, when it comes to things
like mounting. As was said, wood materials involve
volitiles coming out and warping. Aluminum has
been used by photographers for some years now,
with no evident harm. In choosing an adhesive, it
makes sense to look for one that is chemically
stable and does not affect things to which it is
attached, and also one that those doing the mounting are familiar with and can work with.
You might consider contacting the Photo Marketing
Association, here in the US, or its Australian
Don't know if this will help, but a distributor for aluminum mounting panels in the US is Small Corp. ( .
They have been very helpful in technical assistance, and may be able to provide you with information about distribution down under.
G'day from Sunny Queensland and Welcome to the Grumble.

I am also new to the picture framing game and found this and The Aussie Picture Framers Forum very useful & Profile Magazine full of important information.

Being new to the game you might want to ring Hughes Mouldings on 07 3275 4321 and speak to Jared or Neil and they will send you down the right road. The customer service is brilliant!

Go to the Profile Magazine on

Good luck and Keep smiling

Thanks for the information the links where very useful. To refine my question then, without the use of a press, what is the best method for matting ilfochrome or metallic photographic prints on either gatorboard, foam - core or aluminum.

Instead of using aluminum why not use Dibond? If you are not familair I shall try to explain this product to you. It has a thin layer of aluminum on one side then a piece of plexi then another piece of aluminum. It comes prefused. it is a strong material and wont warp over time. Not sure if this is avail down down down there, but a thought antyways.

stay away from the gators(boards) and the MDF monster they are bad and will eat up your little images

For Ilfochromes & Cibachromes, I suggest static-mounting to a sheet of 1/4" thick clear acrylic. Those photos are on plastic substrates, not paper, and respond to the static charge of the acrylic. In case static dissipates in low-humidity conditions, it's also a good idea to augment the static mount with hinges or some kind of sink-mount.

Acrylic sheeting may be a good substrate for other kinds of photos, too. It's smooth, clean, chemically stable, easy to work with, not too heavy, won't warp, and won't corrode.

Another possibility might be PVC sheeting, such as the "Sintra" brand, commonly used for sign making. It's softer, more flexible, and more textured than acrylic. Maybe heavier, too.

Have you tried 3M Pro-Spray as an adhesive? You can get more from the archives; try searching for "Pro Spray" and "Mounting". We use it for mounting non-collectible photos & posters to all kinds of substrates, with very good results. We usually activate that pressure sensitive adhesive in the vacuum press, but have used a roller with good results on large pieces.
For the ilfachrome you might want to do some research into static mounting to acrylic (plexiglas, lucite, perspect).
I have started hinge mounting all the RC and ilfachrome prints I frame because of reversability issues and the observation that most heat and cold mounting does alter the surface texture.
With cold mounting the mount involves pressure sensative adhesives and you have to either put them through a press or apply pressure by hand. Even with the best brayer and the steadiest of hands I find it hard to get an even look or bond.
You don't want to use a press so heat mounting is out of the question. Without a drymount press getting fiber based prints flat is almost impossible.

From what I understand, the guys that are mounting to aluminum are working in pressurized, dust-free rooms and have very sophisticated presses. One speck of dust between the aluminum mount and the back of the ilfachrome and you've got a pimple.

I don't want to be discouraging, but mounting the technologically advanced photos probably will neccessitate an investment in a certain amount of technology, or you might be better off outsourcing the job to someone that already owns the technology. I would never attempt to mount an ilfachrome to aluminum...that's why Smallcorp is there. (Oh, and the results are incredible).

If you are interested in my hinging techniques, please email and I'll explain at length...I've already talked too much.
Does anyone counter-mount photographs? (That is, mount a rejected photograph to the back of a good photograph) Theoretically, that should keep them flat. I've never heard from someone who actually does it though.
framanista this has been done before by a famous photographer, i think it was stieglitz. I think i have heard of himm doing this with his bad prints, I am not kwite certain...the other name in my head is siskand, but i thinking it is stieglitz.

Originally posted by Framerguy:
My first question to you, as a professional photographer, is how do you qualify MDF and aluminum as a mounting substrate? I realize that many framers and photographers down under use MDF for mounting art and photographs but I feel that MDF is highly acidic and is not the proper substrate to mount anything of lasting value.
I believe they are using Dukol EP-MDF which is 7.5-8.5 PH, which is alkiline not acid.

There is a Swedish soft board but can't remember the name... but remember the litmus was alway neutral.

You may have MDF confused with masonite....

Does anyone know of a good ph neutral pressure sensitive adhesive tissue that dosent require being put in a vacume press or dry mount press.

I have heard of framers using Jac paper.
Dennis is right, Alfred Stieglitz did mount his
bad photos on the back side of the boards on
which he mounted his good ones and this has kept
those boards in plane for decades. The framing
community is to be credited with pioneering static
mounting,which, as Jim noted, has a good track
record, when relative humidity is kept reasonable.
Wally's cautions about the rigors of successful
mounting of such photo materials suggest that
working with a commercial mounter, who has a
histroy of success may save you many headaches.
They can be asked about the chemical stability of
their adhesives and about how each has performed,
over time. If, as a photographer, you are looking
to both mount and frame the prints, static mounting may be best, but if you simply want to
mount them, you may have to accept some of the
uncertainty that comes with commercial processes.

ok I have to credit my knowledge and the source...Hugh. I knew I heard it from a reliable source. Every once in a while something gets in this thick noggin