Dry Mounting 101

If you have something that you’d like framed that’s

  1. a little damaged, or
  2. not particularly valuable, then dry mounting may be the solution for you.

Dry mounting is a catch-all phrase generally referring to a two-dimensional item such as a map, poster, photograph, etc., which gets physically adhered to a mounting board – typically foamcore – before framing.

As opposed to wet mounting, which involves the application of glue, dry mounting involves a layer of mounting material infused with bonding agents which are put under pressure, and usually some heat, which fuses the item being mounted to the backing substrate.  It’s not done willy-nilly either; there’re various bonding agents, pressures, temperatures, and time spans which are dictated by the item being mounted.

Too much heat, incorrect pressure, or the wrong amount of time and everything gets ruined!  (Sounds like making a diamond, doesn’t it?)

Properly done, on proper equipment, dry mounting can help to smooth out any wrinkles, blemishes and bumps, so it helps to “bring back” items that need a little TLC.

However: dry mounting should NEVER be done on valuable or rare items because once it’s mounted, it’s permanent!  One of the cannons of the industry is ‘Do No Harm’, and this means that everything a framer does under the guise of conservation should be reversible.  (Be sure to download our free “Consumer’s Guide to Picture Framing: 7 things you NEED to Know!“)

If the item is damaged, then dry mounting can be okay, because the value is already diminished (unless it’s something SUPER valuable!), and if the item has no overt market or sentimental value, like a WalMart poster of the tweens vampire-movie-of-the-week, then dry mounting can be a quick, affordable alternative to proper conservation techniques.