Mounting Board, Mat Board & Strips: How to Attach Artwork in a Framing Treatment

Artwork on paper should always be secured to something else that’s part of the framing treatment, either the mounting board or mat board. This prevents the art from slipping around in the treatment once it’s fully assembled and hanging. If you don’t secure paper art you’ll find yourself having to partially disassemble your frame and reposition the art occasionally, and this increases the chance of damage to both your treatment and your art.

There are numerous ways to attach artwork, some reversible, some not so reversible. Below, you’ll find examples of the ways we attach artwork at American Frame.

#1 Attaching to a mounting board: In this method, linen tape will be used to create a t-hinge to hold the artwork securely to the mounting board. First, center the artwork face up on top of a piece of mounting board. Use a ruler to be precise. Next, use 2 Post-it notes at each corner to mark where the top and side edge of the art is. Your piece should look like this:
Post-It notes mark the corners of the artwork

overhead view of Post-It notes marking every corner of the art

Now, lay your art aside and cut off strips of linen tape. Adhere the tape to the board at the top edge of where the art will be with the top third of the tape folded over so the sticky side faces up. This is the part of the tape the artwork will be adhered to. At this point the project should look like this:
attach linen tape to the mounting board, leaving a piece unattached

Remember, leave the top third of the tape folded over (don’t press it down onto the mounting board).
T-hinge created with linen tape

Add another piece of tape perpendicular, but on top of, the original piece, to make a secure hold.
attach artwork to the sticky ends of the linen tape

Line the print up within the Post-it borders, and press down onto the sticky parts of the exposed tape. Remove Post-it notes. This creates a hinge where you can lift the print off the mounting board and see the hinge from behind.
the artwork is now hinged from the back to the mounting board

#2 Attaching the artwork to the back of the mat: The second option is to hinge the artwork to the mat instead of the mounting board. To do so, place a few strips of linen tape at the top of the back of the artwork, leaving a decent amount of tape hanging off the edge like so:

(If viewing the artwork from the front, the sticky side of the tape will also be facing upwards)
attach linen tape to the back of the artwork

Flip the artwork over, carefully align the mat board on top, and gently press down.
Now, carefully turn both the artwork and mat board over and add another strip of linen tape perpendicular to the first piece, near the edge of the artwork, to create a t-hinge. It’ll look similar to this:

create a T-hinge on the back of the mat

#3 Using archival mounting strips to adhere the mounting board, artwork and mat together: Archival mounting strips offer a safe, reversible method for attaching art to a mounting board. Note that for this method, the artwork does need to have a border of at least ¾”. Otherwise, the mat board will have to cover more of the art in order to also cover the mounting strips.

To begin, hinge the mat board to the mounting board by putting the mat board face down above the mounting board and using a piece of linen tape to attach the two. This will allow the mat board to be opened and closed while still being attached to the mounting board.

hinge the mat and mounting board together with linen tape

Next, center the artwork on the mounting board and place the mat board on top to make sure the mat board covers the art correctly. Use bean bags or something relatively light to keep the artwork in place to prevent it from shifting. Then, peel the adhesive strip from the back of the mounting strips, slide under the print, and press down.

adhere archival strips under the print, around the border

It will end up looking similar to this:

mounting strips around the border of the art

The mat can now be placed on top of the artwork, pressing the strips down and into place to hold the artwork securely. Continue framing as usual.

*For true conservation framing, use rice paper and pure rice starch paste or methylcellulose. These items can be found at art supply stores or online. Items of substantial weight should be mounted using starch hinges, which are designed to hold their weight.

Mounting artwork can be quite involved if you’re looking to preserve the work or protect it from damage. Have you ever used any of the above methods for mounting your artwork when framing?
Be sure to leave us a comment if you have any questions about the processes!