Going down the isles of your local home improvement store or browsing online you probably have seen a TON of different framing tapes and adhesives with various application styles.
You may have asked…
- What kind of tape/adhesive can I use on photos?
- Can I mount my art to my frame with regular scotch tape?
- What’s the difference between a tape and an adhesive film?
It can be a bit overwhelming when figuring out which is the best for your project. No worries, we’ve got your guide to comparing different tapes, mountings, adhesives, putties, and everything else under the ☀️ sun when it comes to picture framing! So getting in the perfect “sticky situation” will be easy!
What is framing tape and mounting adhesive?
These two different (yet similar) materials are used in picture framing to secure photos, artwork, and other materials to a frame or mat board. They come in a wide variety of types, sizes, strengths, and textures to suit the different needs and preferences of each framer, environment, or item being framed.
What are the benefits of using them?
While answers can vary, the most common benefits of using framing tape or adhesive are convenience, ease of use, and the ability to create a crisp and clean professional-looking finish product (without breaking the bank at a custom framing shop!💰)
Framing Tape & Mounting Adhesive Types
Many of us are pretty familiar when it comes to this tape, it’s the same kind we all wrap presents with, seal envelopes with, and use in common crafting projects. Also called “scotch tape”, it can be used to secure lightweight items like paper or photos. We don’t recommend using long-term, as this tape contains acid and can cause your art to break down over time.
Learn more about the most critical factors to consider when framing: acidic farming materials.
Mounting Tape or Artist’s Tape
Similar to double-sided tape, mounting tape is a bit thicker and stronger. This makes it a much more suitable choice for securing heavy items like canvas or poster prints. Unlike scotch tape, it comes in a variety of widths and lengths. It’s important to note that mounting tape can sometimes be referred to as “artist’s tape”.
Framing tape or Framer’s tape is much more “tacky” tape than artist’s tape or masking tape – It’s stronger and thinner than linen or paper-based tapes. Bonus: It won’t harm your artwork or mat boards so it’s a great choice for conservation mounting.
Our framer’s tape is archival-grade, moisture-proof, and has a non-porous film backing. It’s a long-lasting tape that can be easily and cleanly removed from most surfaces with little to no heat.
Foam Framing Tape
Similar to the framer’s tape (framing tape) we talked about earlier, this tape is thicker and adds a bit of cushioning and support. It’s ideal for mounting lightweight works like paper art or photos, it makes them appear “fuller” with the extra cushion.
This adhesive comes in an aerosol can and sprays out a clean, permanent bond between two surfaces. It’s perfect for mounting flimsy artwork flat to foam boards for more structure. Also known as “Poster Spray”, be wary that it does come with a certain smell. 👃
If you’ve heard of the product “Mod Podge” then you’re on the right track! Like its sister, Mod Podge, starch-based adhesives are great for paper projects and its acid-free. One caveat is it dries rather slowly.
It’s often used in hinging artwork to matboards or mounting paper, so adjustments can easily be made during drying time.
Looking for a starch-based adhesive? We recommend using Nori Paste.
Most commonly used for transferring vinyl or laser-cut graphics from one surface to another. If you’re looking to jazz up your acrylic cover with some vinyl graphics – this tape is the way to go!
Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)
Looking to bond heavy art made with materials like cardboard, wood, or other porous mediums? PVA might be the way to go. Commonly known as “wood glue” or “white glue”, this stuff is tough but may take up to 24 hours to dry.
Looking to frame a sports jersey, vintage kerchief, or other fabric? A heat-activated tape or adhesive might be for you. Using a low heat setting on a hair dryer you can successfully attach a fabric to your mount of choice. Just be sure to follow the directions on the package as each adhesive has a different bonding temperature.
If you live in a hot area (Hello, Florida & Arizona! 🥵) or are planning to keep your artwork in a room with lots of sunlight or humidity, it’s best to avoid this method. The hold may come loose due to changes in humidity or temperate.
A great acid-free paper-based tape. This artwork mounting tape is used for hinging and will support heavy pieces. Activated with water (as the name implies). Usually found with a neutral pH of 8.5, it’s a favorite choice of professional picture framers.
If you’re looking for a temporary hold for a vision board or similar, adhesive putty or “sticky tack” may be the choice for you. This pressure-sensitive adhesive is commonly used for attaching lightweight objects like posters. It’s easily removable and reusable.
Looking for an acid-free putty? We recommend QuakeHOLD! Museum Putty.
Considerations For Choosing the Right Product
Ok, so as you can see, there are a lot of options out there when it comes to framing tape and adhesives! So when you’re looking for the right product for your framing needs, there are a few considerations to keep in mind…
💪 Bond Strength
Think about the weight of the piece you are trying to frame or perhaps bond to a foam core board. Based on that weight, choose a framing tape or adhesive with the appropriate strength.
🌡️ Temperature Range
Some tapes won’t work well in extreme temperatures (see the heat-activated tape that we mentioned earlier). So consider the temperature and humidity range of where you intend to place your artwork or photo frame.
☀️ UV Resistance
If you choose to place your artwork in a sunny spot, select a tape or adhesive that has UV-resistant qualities if possible. Keep in mind: although our ACRYLITE covers filter some UV light and is UV stable, fading may still occur if in direct sunlight. The sun is a powerful blazing fireball 🔥 after all!
♻️ Environmentally Friendly
If keeping the Earth clean and safe appeals to you as much as it does to us, then opt for tapes and adhesives that are environmentally friendly, are made from sustainable materials, and are produced by companies that give back to Mother Earth in one way or another.
We give a 🦉 hoot & don’t pollute! Here at Frame It Easy we aim to be the most environmentally friendly picture framing company in the world. Learn more about our sustainability practices and how we give back here.
We hope this guide has helped you to choose the right sticky stuff to get the job done! Selecting the right framing tape or mounting material is essential to crafting a profession-looking end product. Just keep in mind these few pointers next time you’re wondering what tape or adhesive is right for your next framing project:
- Consider the type of item, artwork, or photo you are framing.
- The strength you need to hold your art in place.
- Think about any environmental factors that may affect your piece & consider those needs.
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This post first appeared as A Comprehensive Guide to Framing Tape & Mounting Adhesive on Frame It Easy - Learning Center for Custom Picture Framing.