Photo Mounting


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Aug 30, 2005
Fremont, California
I am sure that this topic has been done before but here it is again.

I have a couple of high gloss photos (think they are cibachromes. Not sure though. I don't know enough about them to say) that my client wants me to mount onto aluminum. Has anyone done this before? I know that it is common practice to do this but I haven't done it yet myself. So I am looking for GOOD instructions about the proper way to do this ( heat? spray? presure mount? Substrate..and where to get it?)

Thanks in advance for the info and advice!
yeah I read that thread. Most of the advice that I have seen so far on the grumble is to static mount the photos. I would use this method had the owner not requested I do the aluminum mounting. These were instructions given to him by the gallery. Unfortunately the photos (22x58") were rolled for shipping from Australia(howdy to our down under framers) but they do seem to roll out easily for now. Supposedly this photographer was pretty famous(he is dead now) and all of his images sold to the Ausie market from his studio would be mounted this way(on aluminum). So I will not be doing something to them that is out of the ordinary for them (I know that doesn't make it right or wrong, just the way it is).
If you did not inform the customer about static mounts then I suggest you do - this is by far the least invasive and best method to use. It would be a good idea to let them have the info to make an informed decision.

My guess is that your customer got the photo's from Ken Duncan

He also has his own framing lab

They are very helpful, you could send them an email and ask for their recommendation, they are very high on customer service, especially since you have one of Ken Duncans shots to mount.

Ooops... sorry I didnt see that you said this guy is dead... sounds like Peter Jarver then...

This is a post from the Aussie grumble I thought would be of interest. Author is Jared Davis of Hughes
To me, it sounds like you may have a “Peter Lik” limited edition photo (testing my psychic ability ) They are popular photographs in North Queensland for tourists at the moment.

An Ilfochrome Classic (formerly known as Cibachrome, until Ilford bought out the process) is high quality glossy photo, which requires special handling and mounting. They are extremely expensive to print and produce, and probably more expensive if they are limited edition signed photos, like the one you have. As you can imagine, super glossy photos are also extremely unforgiving when it comes to showing imperfections or contaminates underneath their surface.

The recommended method for mounting Ilfochromes is as you have been informed. Either mount them on to aluminium sheeting or on to an ultra-smooth surface like gatorboard or kapamount.

Although it is perfectly fine to mount down normal photographs using Gudymount or Economount, or other systems, the only way to mount down an Ilfochrome is using a specialized (ultra smooth) Neschen pressure sensitive adhesive with a Neschen cold roller mounting system, on to a super smooth substrate. This is quite simple is you have the rollers and the materials, and does not require a lot of "skill".

The “mounting process” also needs to be “dust-free” to eliminate any dust or contaminates getting underneath the Ilfochrome (ie: You can't just chuck it through the rollers, which are next to your double mitre saw and an open window!)

The recommended Neschen adhesive to use for mounting Ilfochromes is Gudy 802, which is the highest quality of adhesive available for demanding work such as this.

You cannot use a cold vacuum press with spray adhesive, because sprays are too “lumpy” and do not create a smooth surface (not to mention that they are carcinogenic!)
You cannot use a cold vacuum press with wet adhesive (ie: 3475, etc), as the moisture will ruin the glossy surface, and are also “lumpy” which does not provide create a smooth surface.
You cannot use a cold vacuum press with pressure sensitive adhesive, because this does not work & I can explain this elsewhere for those interested.
It is safer to avoid heat. Mounting systems which use excess heat can ruin the super glossy finish of the Ilfochrome.

Aluminium is dimensionally stable, inert (ie: PH Neutral) and does not corrode like other metals, so it is absolutely safe to use as a long term substrate. Aluminium is the recommended standard to use for Ilfochrome Classic photos. But obviously, being a sheet metal, it is expensive and not the easiest substrate to work with.

Gatorfoam can be used, because it is dimensionally stable, but is expensive and requires preparation – You need to “polish” the gatorboard with ultra fine sandpaper first, and then clean the surface with film cleaner or acetone before mounting. Gatorfoam only comes in a 48” x 96” sheet which makes it difficult to ship single sheets, and you need a bench saw to cut it (like MDF). Currently we only sell this product by the catron, but if there is a big enough demand for selling single sheets of Gatorfoam, would could possibly look at implementing this as an option?

Kapamount is a good option, but unfortunately we stopped selling this product about two years ago, because of the lack of demand for this type of product.

Fomecor is not smooth. When you mount a glossy image down to fomecor, you will notice what they call "an orange peel" effect which shows through the reflection.

Jetmount has a thicker surface paper than fomecor, and is a little bit smoother than fomecor, but nowhere near smooth enough to use as a substrate for an Ilfochrome.

3mm MDF (Craftwood) is dimensionally unstable, because it is hydroscopic, and does not have a smooth surface either. Not to mention it's other delightful qualities like dust, hard to cut and work with, saturated with acid, etc.

Acrylic (Perspex) is very smooth, but unsuitable to use as a substrate because it is hydroscopic. This means that over time, it will allow moisture to migrate into the adhesive, which will react and cause outgassing (ie: bubbles).

It is best not to touch the surface of an Ilfochrome, as your finger prints will become visible over time, because of the chemical reactions of the oils from your hand and the photo surface. A pair of polyester gloves would be the safest way to handle an Ilfochrome print.

Unless you have a pressure sensitive "cold" roller mounting system, the safest “I don’t know any other option” way to frame an Ilfochrome is to hinge it, as you have already done. However by doing this, you risk making your customer unhappy, as in your case.

If your business is not ready for rollers, it might be best to consider “outsourcing” these jobs to be professionally mounted down by a business that has rollers, knowing that everytime you do so, you are creating more business opportunity for yourself to eventually justify your own. It will not be "cheap", but then again this is not a "cheap" print. The fact that it is not "cheap", also indicates that fact that it can be profitable sideline to a picture framing business.

If you wish to contact me, I can refer you to list of possible businesses in your area who understand the fundamentals professional mounting.

My advice would be to get this done properly, or don't get it done at all (ie: leave it hinged)... but don't compromise using an inferior system of mounting, risk the chance that your customer will be even more critical of the result, and consequently unhappy.
Wow Dave that was extremely informative. Sounds like I can't do it properly with the equipment I have. Now I just have to go out and find a good source to mount my photos properly or convince my client that static mounting is the way to go.
And just a note to the Ausies duking it out over the name of the artist it is Peter Jarver.
Hello All,

Someone recently e-mailed me the question - "Why can't you use pressure sensitive adhesive in a cold vacuum press".... which I didn't really touch on in the response posted by Ozdave above - so here is the answer for those who wish to know -

There are two reasons why -

Reason 1 - The Pressure Ring
This reason is just simple physics. A cold vacuum press works by sucking air our of a sealed area, which consists of a flexible rubber diaphragm underneath a flat glass platen. Regardless of where the suction point is inside the diaphragm, the air inside the sealed press will always evacuate from the outside edges inwards to the centre. This means that in the final stages of sucking out the air and creating the vacuum, this is a pocket of air in the centre of the press.

Now, considering this principle, imagine if you have a board (aluminium, fomecore, whatever..) coated with pressure sensitive adhesive in the vacuum press and you were trying to mount down a full sized poster onto the board ...... the process would suck down and seal the outside edges of the print to the adhesive first, creating a sealed "pressure ring", and leaving a big bubble in the middle (from which air could not escape!). This usually results in either a big bubble (if the image is not porous), or a lot of creases and wrinkles (if the image is porous), because the print cannot "slip and slide" into place smoothly, as it would if there were wet adhesive.

The cold vacuum press was originally designed to be used with wet adhesive (starch paste, eva, pva, etc). Wet adhesive was popular in the 70's & 80's in the framing industry, because it was cheap.. but in todays market, not many images like to be in contact with moisture, so vacuum presses are starting to gather dust. Wet adhesive does not bond instantly, and offers some "forgiveness" to allow the print to be able to "creep and slip" on the board to find a comfortable location to bond under pressure. You can , to some extent, also use spray contact adhesive in a cold vacuum press, but the results are inconsistent and unreliable. Wet mounting is always messy, and best done in batches, because there is a preparation and clean up time required.

I have met many so called "experts" that claim they can successfully mount images with pressure sensitive adhesive in a cold vacuum press - but after a few questions I soon learn that they have never mounted anything in the press bigger than a 16" x 20", thus they have just been "lucky" and haven't experienced the full effect of the "pressure ring" bubble in a full sized image. Most of the flattening they acually did by hand first, before putting in the press anyway.

Reason 2 - Insufficient Pressure
Pressure sensitive adhesive requires higher amounts of pressure to bond, than wet, liquid based adhesives. The pressure provided by your average cold vacuum press is nowhere near the pressure you can achieve by using even a simple hand roller (brayer) and rolling onto the adhesive by hand. Many years ago, I once did a test comparing the pounds per square inch ... (and unfortunately I cannot find the results.. sorry).. but the difference was surprising. From memory, the cold vacuum press only provided about one third of the pressure (pounds per sq. inch) that could be achieved by hand. Framers that mount down by hand with a hand brayer, and then "whack it in the press" afterwards for "good measure"... are just simply wasting their time. The cold vacuum press only offers a "placebo effect" of satisfaction, but really does nothing at all to improve the bond.

Over the past 15 years, I have had the privilege of selling and working with all different forms of mounting adhesives (pressure sensitive, dry mounting, wet, etc) and machines. Over this time, I have also had the luxury of "experimenting" and playing with different methods in different machines. From my experience, I have been fortunate to have learned a lot of different tricks and techniques from selling Neschen adhesives and laminates to the exhibition, display and sign markets, as well as traditional framing markets.

In summary - the only way to mount with pressure sensitive adhesive is either by hand (small jobs only!) or with a set of rollers.


Jared Davis
Hughes Mouldings Pty Ltd - Australia
The folks at might be able to shed soome light on your delimma. They manufacture composit and aluminum mounting panels for museums.
I spoke with Wendy at Small Corp last week about how they mount to aluminum. She said that they use PVA adhesive to adhere rag or paper and they use a pressure sensitive tape for fabric because of bleed-through.
I am still searching for a "final" answer for mounting giclee reproductions of an oil portrait, on canvas, w/ waterbased varnish, to be housed in exquisite closed corner period frames w/o glass. The substrate and adhesive have to be stable but reversibility isn't a requirement.