Block Mounting: A cost effective alternative to picture framing

No doubt you’ve heard about block mounting and may have even been advised to block mount your print or poster. But what exactly is block mounting and is it really suitable for your poster?

What is a block mount?

Block mounting is the process of mounting or sticking any print or poster to a solid backing board which allows you to hang your artwork with a frame-free finish. This is an affordable alternative to framing your picture.

Posters can be block mounted on a number of mediums including MDF (medium density fibreboard), foam board or a variety of polyurethane boards. Block mount boards are typically 1cm to 2cm thick and often have black or white edging.

Block mounting your poster

Is block mounting for me?

If you love your artwork to have that frame-free finish or are working on a tight budget, block mounting may be for you. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when considering block mounting as an alternative for you:

What’s my budget?

If you have posters that you wish to display inexpensively then block mounting will certainly be an option for you. You can typically expect block mounting to be half the price of picture framing, possibly even more of a saving.

How valuable is my artwork?

If you have a high value artwork (monetary or intrinsic value) or your artwork is impossible to replace then block mounting may not be suitable. This is because high value or original art should only by framed with conservation framing in mind. Any non-conservation framing or block mounting will destroy the value of your artwork immediately and will lead to deterioration over time.

For how long do I want this on my wall?

For a business or home where you only wish to display your block mounted poster for a short time frame, then block mounting is perfect due to its low cost and light weight wall fixture requirements (more on this shortly). However, a good quality block mount on a polyurethane board will not only be cost effective, but will also last for many years. As opposed to MDF block mounts, polyurethane boards resist moisture absorption and therefore don't swell and bow over time. To add that extra bit of protection, we recommend adding a laminate which will provide some fade resistance and stop dust and finger prints from permanently marking your image.

Is a light-weight product an advantage for my hanging system?

The simple answer is yes! When it comes to picture framing and block mounting, premium materials can be lighter. A light weight polyurethane backing board has several advantages over a wooden MDF board, but one of the practical advantages you will see immediately is the weight saving. The light weight of your block mounted art means that you have more options when selecting wall fasteners. You don’t need the sturdy, intrusive and often challenging wall fastening hardware that you need for heavier items. In some cases, adhesive hooks work just fine… but you need to select the right hooks for the size and weight of your block mounted picture.

Is safety a big consideration?

Of course safety is important. What I mean here is; do you need to avoid the use of glass because of the risk of breakages and potential injury resulting from smashed glass? Are you hanging an artwork in a kid’s playroom or hanging posters in a correctional facility where glass is banned? If the exclusion of glass is essential then block mounting is perfect.

What are my block mount options?

So, you’ve decided that block mounting is ideal, but what board do you select? Here are some of the most common options:

MDF (medium density fibreboard) – this is a compressed wood fibre board and is the cheapest option. MDF is the heaviest option which can lead to challenges when hanging it. It is also the option that will absorb moisture leading to swelling a bowing over time. Furthermore, the finish is the roughest because the boards have texture (the poster is mounted on a flat – but not perfectly flat – surface. The edges are usually stained black and this stain is absorbed into the board and fades quickly.

Foam board – this foam board, or foamcore as framers call it, is available in various thicknesses. Framers often use 3mm or 5mm thick foam core, but it is also available in 10mm and 20mm thicknesses which is used for block mounting. This board is light weight but has a tendency to bow – and who wants their favourite poster hung with a curve along it? When framers us the 3mm or 5mm foam core they are using this within a picture frame, and this frame provides the rigidity required keeping the picture flat. Without the frame, there is nothing to provide the stiffness.

Polyurethane board –these boards have a polyurethane core with 2 layers of paper or plastic on top and bottom. The Kapa boards we use are perfectly flat with excellent stiffness. This means that your block mounted poster will mount flat with no imperfections and the boards rigidity will ensure the entire board is flat for years to come.

Gatorboard - Gatorfoam is brand of board which has a core made from extruded polystyrene foam with two layers of wood fibre veneer on top and bottom. These boards are extremely rigid due to the fibre veneer and are one of the most expensive block mount options. Not only is the board more expensive than the other options, but it is also difficult to work with, leading to increased labour costs.

So now you know a little bit more about block mounting and the block mount options available, you can decide if your next artwork is suitable for block mounting or if you should consider another option such as framing.

See How We Block Mount

Richard Tarrant - Bio

Richard Tarrant - Founder and CEO of PictureStore Pty Ltd
Richard is founder and CEO of PictureStore and has worked since October 2000 to make wall art accessible to all Australians. Google+

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