Technique for framing only drymounted art

Sherry Lee

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 25, 2002
Phoenix, Az.
I have a piece of 'art' bought years ago (long before I ever thought I'd be doing this for a living) that is simply drymounted to foamboard and framed in a laminated moulding. Today I took it off the wall and felt something strange in the back, so ofcourse, I had to tear back part of the dust cover to see what they did.

This piece is 55" x 32". What I felt was 3" strips of matboard that was ATG'd along the back edges (foamboard perimeter) and then the framer's nails inserted over that. Is this typical procedure? Is that done to keep the nails from ripping through the foamboard over time? And does it help keep the foamboard from bowing? Interesting find! I've never had a request to frame something that way.
Hi Sherry,
My first thought is that those strips were used to keep the nails from the mounted foamcore as you say. I would used another 32x55 for support backing but maybe the framer made use of scraps of foamcore instead.

I haven't seen it done that way...only seen strips used in a deep metal frame.
Good point Lance. It HAS stood the test of time.

Jo.....what is the correct way???

FYI 'Froptop'.....they used 3" strips of MATboard, but FOAMboard would have been just as good and effective, I'm sure.

I'll bet that somebody used those filler strips to help stop people from putting their fingers through the dustcover. And they could also be a cheap way to fill the edges of the rabbet up to the edge of the frame before installing framer's points.

The "correct" way (I really HATE to use that term!!) is to use filler boards the same size as the frame to accomplish the 2 things mentioned above. I use Coroplast for filler but you can use foamboard or whatever is suited for the type of framing you are doing.

One thing that I have done in the past is to add filler strips from the mounting board upwards to within a little more than the thickness of the last filler board needed. Then I attach a full sized filler board on top of the strips to finish the "filling" out. I have done this on deep mouldings such as LJ 505198 Umbria where the moulding isn't really shadowbox depth but it is much deeper than the frame contents of, say, 2 mats, a mounting board, and a piece of glass and doesn't warrant building mat covered spacers for the sides of the moulding.

Here I have omitted the mats and glass but the illustration is the same.


The moulding is the one I mentioned above. The mounting board is the bottom board, maybe Artcare foamboard. Then I added 4 strips of filler foamboard to take up the excess space. I added a full sheet of Coroplast on the very back of the moulding and would then drive framer's points in to hold the entire frame package together. Of course, you wouldn't use that many filler strips with a couple of mats and a sheet of glass in the frame.

YOu can put a strip of ATG on each filler strip to keep them in place. This eliminates the need to cut 5 full filler boards to fill the void in the back of the frame. You can cut the filler strips out of scrap ArtCare board if you desire and the framing is to preservation standards and you don't want to use regular foamboard.

Wow Framerguy! You did a great job describing this procedure. And a picture too! Very impressive.

Thanks so much. I fully understand you and greatly appreciate your effort(s) getting the message across!

Personally, I've never had a need to do this, until now. Doubt that, for most framers, it's called for very often.

Again, thanks!

Thank you for the compliment. Actually, I use this technique alot even when it only requires 2 or 3 filler boards to back up the art package. I sell many frame mouldings to people down here that are deeper than the art requires and, if you only use one filler strip and a final backing (filler) board, it still saves you having to use 2 full filler boards.

Most of your foamcore and coroplast is rigid enough to span the "gap" left by the filler strips through the center of the backing board and it always makes a much better functioning and nicer looking frame package when you can get the entire package located just under the back lip of the rabbet of the frame. It minimizes the chance of people picking up the frame incorrectly and punching finger holes through the dust cover. That pretty much negates many of the reasons for using a dust cover in the first place. And it looks really shabby.


You should always charge for materials that you use in your framing. If you don't have a POS program where you can build in a special charge for "Filler Board" based on the UI of the piece, you should charge for the filler board(s) separately on your work order. You could simply bump up your fitting charge or make a separate entry for it but you should account for it in some manner.

In your example, you would have to use at least a board that is at 40x60 and that isn't free to you. Even though it is used for filling out the back of the frame package, you should be paid for it.

Bear with me here...I'm tired. You said that if filler strips/board are required to fill up the depth of a frame, this should be reflected in the price? So, do you mean to say that if someone chooses a frame that has a deep rabbet, (deeper than is required, as opposed to a shadowbox type art), there is basically an additonal charge associated with deep frames, sort of a deep-frame surcharge??
Thanks for your insights....Frop

If you are alluding to my last post, I meant that, if you are going to use filler boards to bring the frame package level up to the rear of the frame profile, you should be paid for that extra material, ie, the filler boards. HOW you charge for the extra materials depends on what your costing system is, POS program, hand written W/O, etc.

In Sherry's example at the start of this thread, the piece was 55x32 which requires oversized filler board of whatever type you choose to use.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Sherry needs 3 filler boards to bring her frame package up to near the back of the frame profile. She decides to use foamcore so she would have to buy 3 extra oversized (40x60) pieces of foamboard to use for filler on this project. OR, she could use 2 layers of foamboard strips and place one fully cut foamboard on top of those strips to finish the package off. It becomes the difference between paying for (and getting paid for) 3 full sheets of 40x60 foamcore vs. 1 full sheet of 40x60 foamcore.

I normally don't charge for the filler strips as they are usually cut out of scraps of foamcore and are quick and simple to cut and install, but that is my choice. You COULD charge for the whole ball 'a wax if you want, that is up to the individual framer. I have used this technique long enough now that it has become almost automatic that I add an extra charge to those frame profiles that I already know will need them. And, if I forget or didn't realize that there would be the extra space in the frame moulding when I wrote the framing estimate, well, that's why it is called an estimate. I don't hesitate one bit adjusting my estimates to take into account any unforseen complications that may arise during the construction of that customer's framing.

Hope this clears up any confusion I have caused.

Have you ever noticed that, when you are so accustomed to doing an operation so that it becomes almost automatic, you sometimes fail to fully explain it to someone else when the question arises, "Hey, how did you do that??"? We seem to make some kind of mental assumption that the other person already "knows" about that part of the operation or that he/she probably doesn't want to be told something THAT "basic". That is a flawed assumption that I had a hard time overcoming when I first started teaching my vocational program years ago.

(Apparently, I am still struggling with this problem.)

It's listed as "filler" on my work orders. When I stopped using corrugated as filler even for poster art and, more recently, stopped using spring clips on metal frames, my consumption of fomecore filler went through the roof.

Clear Coroplast is probably the ultimate filler for most projects, but I don't have a delivering vendor that carries it now.

When customers ask me what "filler" means, I tell them it's oatmeal.

If you check out some of the Sign Makers suppliers in your area I would guess they should have Coroplast or some suitable alternative which will meet the specifications of Colorplast….I know I have been checking in Ireland, I cannot get Coroplast it appears to be a US name or terminology ( does anyone know whether Coroplast is a generic or brand name)…..I can get Correx (not sure if this is a brand or generic name) from at least 3 suppliers in Dublin…..if there are 3 suppliers in Dublin for this sort of product you can bet there should be quite a few near you…..
Dermot, Polyflute is the generic name.

The stuff the signmakers use is intended for outside use and has additives to help it survive the weather and to make it easier to paint. It's not horrible stuff, but I prefer the clear (translucent, actually) 'cause I'm comfortable using it in ANY frame package.

One of the reasons I ran out is I use it for other things. My design counter and most of my work benches are covered with it. The ceiling of my basement office at home, which was getting flooded from the kitchen upstairs, is now made of Coroplast. The particle board cover on a basement sump pit was getting mildewed from the constant exposure to moisture, so I replaced it with 4 layers of 6mm Coroplast (with the corrugations running two directions for strength.)