Materials Needed

Materials Needed

There are six main areas for you to consider, assuming you will carry out the complete projects: from image, through mounting to building a frame and assembling the piece.

This article will deal with some of  the sub-divisions within the categories and then leave you to source materials, best suited to your projects.  It is also important to realise that different types of framing will require particular types of material and methods of working.  It is not always a simple choice of what you like.

The categories are:


1 Mountboard:

The Standard Range of mount board is now the first choice for many framers because of the huge variety of colour options, enhanced and textured finishes. The sheer visual appeal of the ranges that are available, make them a popular choice in the marketplace. From the subtle shades that people will always want,  to the vibrant, bright colours, which fashions have introduced into our homes, they are all represented within the standard range of most companies.


WhiteCore: Boasting a bright, white bleached core guaranteed to stay for the life of the board - available in an incredible range of colours and offering acid free properties up to 100 years.

Black Core: Similar to white core boards, but have a black core so that when you create an aperture in a mount using a bevel edge cutter, a definite, fine black line is revealed instead of the usual white core.  Whilst the colour range is a little more restricted than the white core, there are still some vibrant combinations available.

Conservation mountboard: A conservation grade mountboard is made from 100% virgin alpha-cellulose surface paper, core and backing paper. It is designed to be lignin-free and acid-free amking it ideal for use in conservation framing grade projects.    You should check to see that the surface, core and backing paper are buffered with calcium carbonate to ensure that they are PH neutral and meet conservation standards set by F.A.T.G. and F.A.C.T.S.  The colour range in this product tends to be more neutral and earth tones as the process used in producing stronger colours will not meet with conservation requirements. 

Cotton Core: Containing pure cotton fibre. This elite range of white and cream boards meets the most stringent conservation requirements - the recommended option for museum quality framing.

SolidCore: In neutral colours, a solid core board made from alpha cellulose, providing very high degrees of protection - popular right across the trade with general framers, and with art galleries for the protection of art or for archival purposes.

AlphaCore: Made from alpha cellulose and offering a good selection of neutral and bright colours which are fade and bleed resistant. The choice of framers who want to combine colour choice with a high degree of protection.

To view the range of boards on offer at DIYframing follow the link: Mountboards

2 Tapes: Do's & Don'ts

The issue of which tapes to use can be quite a prickly subject.  As well as the danger of damage caused by strong adhesives before work is in place, there are also factors of the adhesives used (and residue) which can damage work over time and the ability to leave artwork undamage if you should need to reframe or refit work at a later stage.  Tapes to avoid are the generally available sticky tapes and parcel tapes.  Masking tapes should only be considered useful as part of a process and should not be used to attach artwork or in the construction elements of the project.  By design masking tapes have a low-tack quality and will loose their adhesive chracteristic over time.

In framing, tapes are used in three main ways during framing projects. 

  1. Sealing the frame
  2. Attaching artwork to the mount
  3. Making mounts


 1 Sealing The Frame

The one most people will recognise straight away is the "brown" tape used to seal in the back of the frame.  There are two types of tape used:self adhesive;gummed.

Gummed tape is the traditional paper tape, and the only one suitable for conservation work and museum work, is gummed paper tapes.  Again check that the tape you have selected is appropriate as not all gums and paper qualities will meet conservation standards.  These tapes are easy to use. Dampen the gummed back of a strip of tape cut to length and allow the gum to become activated.  Apply along the backing board / moulding joint.  Smooth into place.  It produces a smooth finish and can be released at a later date by simply moistening the tape.

Self adhesive tape is used to perform the same function and will produce a good finish.  The major drawback is simply that the adhesive quality is quite agressive and may well lift some of the backing board surface should you need to remove it.


2 Attaching Artwork To Mounts

This is often achieved using types of tapes, papers and adhesives.  When you start in framing, the most versatile will be a hinging tape, which again come as  self-adhesive or gummed versions.  In many ways the same considerations apply here as they did in the backing tapes.  While the self-adhesive tape might suggest it has conservation quatlities, these are limited to the the fact that it is PH neutral.  For it to be useful in conservation framing you have to be able to  remove the tape completely from artwork without causing damage.  Only suitable, gummed versions can fulfil that claim.

Varieties of hinging tape available take account of the weight and structure of the artwork being mounted and include:hinging tape (paper); linen tapes; tapestry tapes; tissue tapes.  For more information about these link to our store section:  tapes and adhesives.

For information about attaching artwork to mounts visit our  Handy Hints sheets in the Articles section of the Training Zone.



3 Making Mounts

In this area, self adhesive hinging tape comes into its own.  Because it will not be in direct contact with artwork, the strength of the adhesive combined with ease of use make it particularly useful in making hinge mounts.  

Double sided tape (ATG tape) is used in making double mounts, where keeping one layer of mount attached to another is important.  ATG tape is also useful to create a permanent bond in other elements of construction: attaching foam core to mount board etc.  It should not be used in direct contact with artwork.  Again it is available as a standard product or treated to ensure adhesive is PH neutral (called "conservation" ATG tape).

Masking tape is often used in making double mounts to hold the core of the mount in place as work progresses.  This allows the sheet of board to remain supported as you manoeuvre it throug the cutting process.  When the piece is complete, the tape supports can be peeled away, leaving sections of board which can be used in further double mount projects.

3 Mouldings

In order to create a frame there are two essential factors that must be considered before ordering and cutting the moulding.

The dimensions of the mounted artwork.  This obviously takes account of the length and height of the piece BUT it must also take into consideration its overall depth.

The overall depth will be made up of the mount package (single, double, hinge mount), glass panel and backboard.  This dimension has a direct bearing on the required rebate depth in the chosen moulding

The style of moulding.  This is a decision based mainly on aesthetics and the relationship of the frame to the artwork, mount and colour palette.  You will need to decide whether to use a natural / bare wood finish or a pre-finished moulding (gold, silver, black etc).  With natural wood mouldings you will have to decide what finish you will choose to apply.

The style of moulding should be chosen with the practical and aesthetic structure of the frame in mind.  For guidance on quality visit the Handy Hints (BASICS) section and view the sheet: Choosing The Style & Quantity of Moulding For A Frame



In fact, there are thousands of styles available: too much choice can sometimes be a bad thing and confuses the issue.  Knowing that you can depend on the availability of a more limited range can be more important, whether starting to frame for other people or producing top quality work for yourself.

Visit the moulding section of our store.  The range is still quite extensive with 116 styles to choose from (more if you think of the range of fimishes you can put on the bare wood mouldings).  The range has been developed based on years of framing experience and the preferences shown by customers.  Typically mouldings fall into several finish styles:

Within each of these types, there will be a variety of profile styles, from square cut to highly ornate.  When developing our range to stock, careful consideration was given to some important issues that you will, in turn, need to think about:

  1. depth of the back of the frame - higher backs make clamping easier;
  2. quality of material - flaky, soft timbers used in mouldings make clean mitre cuts difficult to cut
  3. profile - complex profiles make it difficult to effect neat corners
  4. rebate depth - ensuring that the moulding can accommodate the framing package and its weight

4 Backing Board & 5 Glass

In these two areas, the materials available become less of an issue, until you start to frame commercially and undertake larger and more demanding pieces, where specific products are requested.

4 Backing Board

The usual, standard board used is 2 mm, treated MDF board.  Make sure that you buy a treated board as, by its nature, MDF is a composite board made from wood fibres, which have a high acidity value.  Therefore high street, DIY shop boards will not be adequate - also you tend to find 3 mm is the finest board they can offer. 

Have a look at our sheet materials section of the store to see sizes and quantities available.  Other advantages of MDF backing board are that it is inexpensive, sturdy yet you can cut it down to size using a craft knife, avoiding making any sawdust.  Using a barrier board between MDF and the mounted artwork also means that it can be used in conservation framing projects.

Corri-Cor® Board. Launched in 1995 Corri-Cor® quickly became the market leader for framers wanting to get away from the traditional hardboard/MDF product.  It is light, rigid and easy to cut. It is produced with a slight bow for flatter artwork, and is manufactured at 2.35mm thick.  It is available in a range of qualities (4) budget through to "conservation Q".  You can therefore choose a standard of board for whatever type of project you are undertaking.



5 Glazing Products

Storing glass in large quantities is the way to save money because there are discounts for volume.  However, storage is also quite space consuming and opens up a raft of safety issues. 

For the vast majority of framing projects you will use 2 mm float glass, which is readily available, from local glaziers, in sheets for you to cut  down or cut exactly to the fit the frame  you have made.  It is a cheap material, relatively easy to work with and yet still looks stunning.  It does not offer any protection against UV light over time, but if work is placed away from direct sunlight, it is acceptable even as part of a conservation framing package.

The other basic option would be a perspex or acrylic panel (seen in the image on the right).  This product remains a good quality alternative to glass, particularly where health and safety issues might be a major consideration.  In addition it would keep the overall weight down of a framed piece as well as making it safer to transport.

The next step up is the non-reflective versions of both the glass and perspex panels.  Whilst approximately double the cost of the other version, it does provide an invisible barrier to viewing the artwork.  However it is important to remember  that it does not protect artwork from UV rays, and damage over time will be sustained if hung in direct light.  Another point to remember is that it does not provide the sheen of traditional glass.  Also, because the glass has been etched to achieve the anti-reflective quality, artwork that is mounted a distance away from the glass will appear to have a grey film across it.

After these products there are many specialist ones offering greater protection from UV light, combined with better viewing characteristics.  Prices increase accordingly.

6 Sundries

A little bit like the article on the equipment needed, you come to a whole range of small bits and pieces which you have in your tool box.  These include all the hardware used in constructiong the frame, the pieces used for assembling the product, right down to hooks and pins for hanging it on the wall.  A typical list would look like this:


To view a more complete list, view the store pages:



In most cases there are varying types, weights or lengths of each item depending on the project being undertaken

We have tried to cover the basic ground thoroughly in this suite of articles.  Of course there is plenty more still for you to find out and we hope you enjoy that particular "journey".  Don't forget to look at the range of handy hints sheets, which help turn the ideas outlined here into practical projects.