Waterproof framing?


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Jun 13, 2002
Sacramento, California
I had one of my regulars come in and ask me to "waterproof" his frame.
He has a home overseas in an extremely humid climate and really what he needs is to simply keep moisture from seeping into his frame. Would you all think that sealing the framing package would suffice or does a constantly humid environment require something more? And, if so, what do you suggest?
Thanks folks!
what he needs is to simply keep moisture from seeping into his frame.
Did your customer use the word "simply" or "just?"

If so, he may be unprepared for the complexity (i.e expense) of the procedure.

I am not qualified to describe the process to make a frame truly "waterproof" (having never taken art along on my underwater excursions,) but it is much more involved than slapping a piece of Mylar on the back for a dust seal.

And, I suspect, it is unnecessary in most cases.
Hi Ron,
I too was wondering how deep under water he was planning on taking this thing.
His piece is already framed and I think what he wants is to somehow seal the piece a bit better to help with the moisture problem. Fortunately he's one of the most kind and easy-going customers I've ever worked with and he would appreciate anything that would just help his problem a little bit.
Here's a crazy idea. Use plexi for the front (abrasion resist if fear of scratching) and use a thin sheet for the back and sides to create a box. It may have to be a custom made box because of the solvent welded seams ect... The box would be set in the frame and clips could hold it in. A small desiccant canister may need to be included in the package and a very small hole would need to made to control air pressure.

I know plexi absorbs a small amount of moisture. Not sure if it would diffuse into the package.

Crazy or what?
OK, there is a waterproofing called "sealed frame technology", but geeze guys...it's almoct 8:30 on a Saturday, can't this wait til MLK,jr.'s B'day?

Do search on "Sealed Frame Technology" or email Hugh Phibbs (he's gonna kill me for this) if you really want to know. If you can't get an answer that way I'll post the proceedure on Tuesday.
Right on, Wally -- Hugh Phibbs is our supreme authority for sealed frames. He teaches a class that explains how to use Marvelseal and electrical-grade hotmelt glue to create a frame package that is truly submersible.

As I recall, he often uses this technique for framed art that is to be shipped, handled, or displayed outside of the museum environment.

One uncertainty of the process, for most of us retail framers, would be that it is difficult to know when the hygroscopic materials have been dried sufficiently.

I like to think of it as putting the frame package into a mylar balloon with a window. The seal would deteriorate over time, so it would not be submersible forever. But it would remain much tighter than ordinary framing for many years.
Yes Jim is right Hugh is all about Marvelseal 360 (think that is the correct number). Do a google search or a search on here. I am sure it has come up before. Good Luck it should be fun to try.

Patrick Leeland
There are two issues to be addressed, when the contents of a frame are to be sealed, water-proofing and climate-proofing. There are a number
of pieces in the articles index and preservation
supplements sections of the pictureframingmagazine.com web site, which detail
how these packages can be made. A water-proof package can be made with acrylic glazing, since
it will resist wetting, but a climate-proof requires glass or laminated glass, since only
glass will function as a vapor barrier and that
is what in needed for long term exclusion of
moisture. There are no classes on this topic coming up in the near term, but the next preservation supplement in PFM will address it.

My clients have asked for something similar, mainly when the pictures are to hang in old damp English houses.

I put a plastic sheet in between the backboard and the backing card, make the sandwich of glass, mountboard, artwork etc. as usual and tape the edges. I run a bead of silicone in the rebate, put the sandwich in and press home. Run another bead of silicone around the back to seal it up. It keeps out the damp pretty well.

Paul Hardy