Mounting a large print on masonite

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by nsurit, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    Any words of wisdom on mounting a larger print on masonite. Large being 30 X 40 or perhaps larger. Plan to build a box out of 1X4 and mount the masonite on it before applying the print. Thanks in advance, Bill BArber
     
  2. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I'd put a 1x4 "X" from corner to corner in the box to prevent the masonite from sagging. You have to do some cutting at the centre of the X of course.
     
  3. momus

    momus Subscriber

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    Excellent advice. Masonite is a very good material to use for art ideas. The cut edges are not archival, so I would also recommend giving everything a good coat of gesso before mounting the print. You're going to end up w/ something quite heavy though. You could achieve the same result by mounting the print to a properly stretched and gessoed canvas or foam board if that's a concern. I've done a lot of painting on masonite and it works well, but again, I always gesso everything to seal the surface w/ an archival material first. If you use foam board all you need to do is mount the print directly to that, as it's normally sandwiched w/ acid free paper.
     
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  4. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    That material is made out of random wood, pulped and held together with natural lignin. How can this possibly be archival? It is also sensitive to both temperature and humidity, constantly changing size and form - most likely at a different rate to your print.

    I'd suggest finding some 10mm foamboard or laminating up a couple of pieces of 5mm (which would also allow arranging the joins from smaller, and cheaper, sheets in a non-overlapping way). Foamboard is more rigid, more archival and lighter in weight. This structure can then be laid down flat (on a perfectly clean and flat surface) and the backing frame you mentioned stuck on the back, ideally with an extra piece of framing crossways, halfway along the long direction, for some extra centre support.

    Making the bond between the foamboard and the frame can be done with a suitable white-glue. Putting the print on to the foamboard is another question. I have used 3M Photo Mount with large prints (a panorama of five 20x16, trimmed down somewhat for joining up), but am wondering how long it will last before peeling (three and a half years so far). A better solution for a single print would be to go to a mounting shop and have the print stuck down with one of the double-sided adhesive films using the appropriate laminating/mounting system.

    Edit: I forgot to mention, foamboard is also available with one self-adhesive surface, but whether that is practical depends on what you have available locally. A mounting roller will make this material (and the other options) much less fraught.
     
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  5. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Masonite is steam-pressed wood, which means the lignin will acidify your print and degrade it in the long term. I don't know how long that takes but it's at least a couple of decades as I've seen 30-year-old prints mounted like that with no issues.

    If you do some googling for wet mounting of fibre prints, there are a few people who recommend coating masonite with a thin (2x diluted) layer of PVA glue, letting that dry then slapping a dripping-wet fibre print onto the masonite. The water reactivates the PVA layer (which will wick into the FB) and the print will dry/shrink onto the board for a perfectly flat finish without needing a drymount press. I suspect it's great for exhibiting on the cheap but probably not archival. If I were going to mount a 30x40" print, that is absolutely what I would do, at least for my first try :wink: I'd also like to experiment with putting a bit of sodium bicarbonate into the PVA to help neutralise things, but I don't really have the time nor the facilities to determine whether that would make things worse.

    If you're not doing drymount but want archival results, do not use contact adhesives, especially the spray ones. Quite apart from the respiratory hazard, they're very not-archival. Having said that, I use contact adhesive myself when I have a smaller print I want to put on the wall for a few years and don't really care that it will prevent the print outlasting me (50-60 more years at most). In my case, prints are either for-the-wall (exposed to house fumes and not expected to be particularly archival), or they're for-posterity, unmounted in a box and treated comparatively very well.

    Edit: I suspect that a layering of masonite, cotton rag and then FB print would be archival. The lignin isn't going to make it through a buffered wood-free mount board, and the masonite (with reinforcing as suggested above) will provide rigidity. You could assemble it all with PVA, which *is* archival, especially if you get the bookbinding version with antimicrobial agents. Plants will eat your PVA otherwise.
     
  6. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The flattest form of masonite is called Duolux. It popular for half-assed photo mounting. Archival it ain't. If you simply use it as a backing material you can overlay it with Saran Wrap or some other barrier plastic. But that doesn't make much sense either, since fomeboard is cheaper and lighter. High quality synthetic boards which are pH neutral also need to be carefully chosen. Gatorbaord must be sanded. Ultraboard is extremely smooth. But applying a suitable acrylic adhesive foil to this kinds of substrates, then the print to that, is a tricky unforgiving application requiring special skills and equipment - best left to a pro shop. Suitable water-based glues are available from Seal and Daige, but likewise need both a high skill level and a suitable substrate/fiber-based print combination which will mutually absorb the water in the glue. Doing any of this requires homework and practice. Save up some scrap prints to test.
     
  7. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    A more practical hint: You can acquire very smooth board already coated with an adhesive layer from certain outfits like Oregon Lamination.
    But after you peel off the masking sheet, putting down a large print is still going to be relatively tricky without an appropriate roller-feed machine. It's analogous to laying down Formica. No need a big slip sheet of silicone release paper, but a good pressure roller. Practice, practice,
    practice... and then, right at the brink of insanity, you'll purchase a machine.
     
  8. ROL

    ROL Member

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    I presume you've already read AA's advice on large print special mounts in The Print, in which he suggests finishing by lacquering the surface of the print :blink:. Masonite being the backing, I also assume that archival considerations are simply not relevant in your case. Nothing wrong with that, for special applications.

    FWIW, I dry mount GSPs that large in a normal size press, presented in a beveled window mat, 36"x48". Since I have not mounted on masonite, I can offer no experiential wisdom. I do have an idea (not to be confused with wisdom) about this though, which might even be considered archival. Here is how I might handle a loose print on any kind of flat non archival substrate. Cut the masonite, plywood or what have you to the size of the print, with or without borders (flush). Go to the home store and buy sufficient length of aluminum C-channel (available in many depths) for each of the four sides, mitered to length, deep enough to accommodate the panel, some kind of archival mounting board or tissue, the print, a window, and acrylic glazing, narrow enough to hold the components tightly (makeup depth as needed). Sandwich them together, apply the C-channel all around with glue on the substrate's back, and hang. The print, only in contact with inert or buffered surfaces, can be removed at any time, by simply pulling the C-channel from the substrate. Then there's the option of incorporating the substrate itself into the presentation by cutting larger than the print, for an aesthetic reveal, not that I would consider masonite all that aesthetic.
     
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  9. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    It's not just acid migration you gotta be worried about when using these kinds of sheet goods as a backing, but potentially also formaldehyde
    in the glue, or other outgassing nasties. Leave masonite for lining doghouse floors.
     
  10. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Subscriber

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    A couple other rigid materials used regularly for mounting large prints are Sintra, a PVC based board, and Dibond, an expanded foam board with thin layers of aluminum on each surface. Both are archival and substantially lighter weight than Masonite, but more expensive.
     
  11. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    There isn't any formaldehyde in masonite. It is simply hot pressed steamed wood fiber held together by its own lignin. The process is simple but requires high pressure steam and high pressure rollers. MDF and other processed wood panels do contain formaldehyde, as they are ground wood and adhesive.
     
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Good observation, Rick, but what you gotta keep in mind is that nowadays a lot of substitute materials are coming in from overseas and it's hard to know exactly what's in them sometimes. Even my dedicated plywood supplier couldn't give me a precise answer yesterday on an analogous question (some of these questions are code dictated locally). The mere thought of masonite etc would probably stop the pacemaker
    of any real art conservator's heart. It might be fine for casual craftsy use, or temporary commercial displays, but certainly doesn't belong around anything of serious quality or intended permanence. It ain't all that flat either, which will be apparent if you try to mount a glossy
    print to it. Ordinary fomecore isn't very smooth either. Sintra is so-so. Dibond... well, ya get what ya pay for, and you'll pay for that!
     
  13. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    If you aren't opposed to a C-print, all of the major labs can print and mount it on 3mm styrene, which is very smooth, fairly rigid and totally inert. All of my studio work is printed and mounted this way.
     
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  15. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I'm a retired cabinet maker, and I used to cut butt loads od modern MDF and melamine panels. I found I'm allergic to many of those products due to the formaldehyde, but never reacted to masonite. I would never mount a photo directly to the stuff personally, but possibly use it for a backing material behind something else. If someone where to want to mount a photo to it, I would seal it with a good blond shellac first then use a photo grade adhesive.
     
  16. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Yes, always true shellac, which is distinct from varnish. But that means you can't use a waterbased glue for the print. Another potential issue is the fact that sheet good mfgs for building materials aren't exactly monitored like a pharmaceutical concern - there can be a fair amt of residue cross-contamination from one product to another, including sulfur compounds. In our shop here we do cut entire pallet loads of masonite Duolux for a particular photographic organization (I won't say which one, because I think the stuff is a bad idea to begin with - but they only use it for temporary annual exhibitions). And I sell equip and supplies to everyone from high-end cabinets makers to these recent America's Cup teams with their carbon fiber concerns. But what you get allergic to just depends on the amt of exposure. The biggest culprit in this area is Port Orford cedar. The friends and clients of mine who were building Ellison's giant mansion out it just couldn't seem to get rid
    of their "colds" month after month. Eventually skin allergies started popping up. It's a beautiful wood if you like that blonde Scandinavian
    look or a true weathered silver gray, uncoated ... but hey, folks, some gloves and dust masks go a long ways to preventing this kind of thing.
    Spray contact adhesives are a different story, however ... and frankly, you won't even have to worry about either the archival effects or
    getting allergic, because once you get used to those glues, you'll either self-immolate from a spark, asphyxiate, or go brain-dead first like
    every other gluesniffer!
     
  17. Lauris

    Lauris Member

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    There are a few different kinds of pressed wood board. Egg tempera painters (many of whom do think about how archival their supports are, due to the medium itself having a proven archival track record) are commonly using untempered masonite, which is as indicated above, just pressed pulp without formaldehyde or oil type additives. There is a layer of Gesso between the board and the paint, but it is the good old fashioned hide glue kind. So.... pressed wood > glue/gelatin > image, sounds familiar!
    Unfortunately, untempered masonite is hard to track down, as suppliers aren't always aware of their products contents. If I can track down a current brand name, I will update.
     
  18. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I have personally never heard of a photographer mounting a print, an expensive one at that, on masonite — one of the least used and archivally appropriate methods of permanent mountingn for display or storage. Use Gatorboard (wood or styrene composite) or have the print hot-bonded to aluminium (di-bonding), then sealed.
     
  19. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Just to get back to this thread and for future reference . . . I've just mounted up another series of photos on to self-adhesive foamboard, as I mentioned earlier, but this time I made the order through a wholesaler instead of the local stockist.

    I looked through what they had as stock items and found that the self-adhesive 10mm sheet was available up to 140cmx300cm (55"x118" approx.). The actual mounting will still be a bit stressful (understatement...) if you don't have a roller, and certainly would need at least three people -- at least two handling the print and at least one looking after the print-to-board contact. The glue makes an non-adjustable bond immediately, so practice carefully before you remove the cover sheet from the adhesive! The material is fume-free and very clean in use, so has everything to recommend it over the spray-adhesives which I used for one-offs years ago.
     
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  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i regularly get work mounted on 3/8 mdf
    and my print mounter asked me last week if i had
    seen the work they do with 1/8 masonite
    ( i think he said masonite )
    heavy, yes but when a print is beautifully mounted
    on it, a box put around it, and something behind it
    ( so it floats )

    WOW!

    hope your print turned out well bill

    john
     
  21. richard ide

    richard ide Subscriber

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    One person can mount a large print simply by pulling back the release paper a bit at a time and rolling the print down as you go.
     
  22. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    there's always Diasec...face mount to plexi with a backing of anodized aluminum...
     
  23. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    As usual, this thread has become a potpourri of misinformation. Yeah, MDF and masonite if you're selling someone a print intended to hang next
    to their Elvis rug in the trailer house, preferably under the roof leak so the inevitable discoloration of the print can get blamed on something
    other than the hokey method by which it was mounted in the first place. ... Then the other extreme... face mounting on aluminum, which if
    properly done means the framing per se for a single print will probably more than the camera which took it. There are all kinds of options, but
    they are certainly not all equal by any means, either in elegance or "archival" properties (or in some of the above suggestions, "anti-archival"
    properties).
     
  24. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    How is a range of options misinformation? If you have a great print and the buyer wants it to look the best, why forego the best possible presentation (as long as it suits that particular image)?

    As an aside, when I frame my work, I hinge mount with archival tape to acid/lignin free mountboard, 8 ply window mat cut to be exactly .25 inches larger than the actual image dimension on all sides. I dislike attaching prints to alternative substrates with the exception of face mounting for aesthetic reasons.
     
  25. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Hmmm . . . anti-archival . . . this could be a sort of punk trend? Self-consuming photography? Ephemeral images, that are somewhat more ephemeral than usual . . . Not sure how it would sell in the galleries though. Mind you, a big chunk of masonite could always be repurposed to fix the trailer roof.

    I vaguely recall someone trying to make a big montage print on a sunlit wall in a gallery, which was supposed to decay and degrade over the course of the exhibition and that it was quite difficult to achieve in a predictable way. Then there have been several of the projects of JR, with the degradation of the substrate, rather than the image itself, being part of some sort of entropy aesthetic.

    All possibly quite interesting - but to make your work rot by accident, not design, seems somehow less sensible.
     
  26. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    Does this count?

    [​IMG]