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Author Topic: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board  (Read 2929 times)

pcgpcg

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Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« on: February 18, 2018, 02:17:05 AM »

I’m looking for a low-cost and lightweight solution for mounting a 32" x 96" B&W print. It will be hanging in a wine bar and does not have to be archival. I'm thinking of using 2"polystyrene insulation board, then putting a lightweight wood frame around it, with no glazing. I have no idea if mounting to polystyrene board is problematic or not, and I'm not sure what I should use to adhere the print to the board. I’m thinking of insulation board because it is lightweight, rigid for its size (2” think), and the price is right - a 4’x8’ sheet costs $22 at Lowe’s.
Is this a bad idea? What should I use to mount the print to the foam board?
« Last Edit: February 18, 2018, 02:40:27 AM by pcgpcg »
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farbschlurf

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2018, 02:47:53 AM »

When I was a student and had very little money I once tried what you plan to do, for a "underground exhibition". I had pretty much the same thoughts. The results where so-so. Actually they where ok for the low price. I simply used double-sided adhesive tape for fixing, but I can remember I had to find a special one, because the solvents used in some adhesives dissolved the board ... more or less quickly there were holes. You need to test. I think the In my case it were C-prints, relatively thick paper, but the texture of the boards surface wasn't completely hidden. Also the board is rather soft, so if you mount the picture or press on it in one place too hard, the quickly will be a dent. It was really  a "quick and dirty" low-budget solution in my case, and it fitted the "showroom", so it was ok. Depending on the viewing conditions, it might work.


 
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Richard.Wills

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2018, 06:10:57 AM »

Polystyrene is flammable and gives off very nasty fumes. You would be better off with canvas.
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Peter McLennan

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2018, 10:46:06 AM »

I say to go for it. A few tests should prove or disprove its viability.  PVA glue immediately comes to mind.
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pearlstreet

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2018, 11:39:58 AM »

Polystyrene is flammable and gives off very nasty fumes. You would be better off with canvas.

This would be enough to make me not use it.
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stockjock

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2018, 11:45:37 AM »

My recollection is that those types of insulation aren't perfectly flat.  If you use something like the 3M 77 adhesive spray to adhere the print to the board you will probably get a kind of eggshell effect on the print where it looks dimpled.  That might not matter if you using a thick enough paper.  Also, cutting Styrofoam cleanly isn't easy.

You might have better luck with a large piece of Masonite.  That usually has one smooth side and it is relatively easy to cut.  The problem is most boards have a slight wave to them.  I don't know if that would be fixable by gluing a 1x3" backer to it that could also serve as the mounting point. 

But since you don't care about archivability and cost is clearly an issue what about simply pinning the photo to the wall?  That is often how some galleries and lower end museums display work in temporary exhibitions where no one has been willing to invest the $1-2,000 a frame that size would cost.  Other places sometimes use a bunch of neodymium magnets backed by screws in the wall.

And I noticed the last time I was in Ikea that they were selling very large, "framed", pictures for not much money.  My recollection is 39x55" for ~$50.  They weren't glazed though  so I'm not sure how that would work.

Good luck with the project and I hope you let us know how it turned out.
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farbschlurf

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2018, 01:11:33 PM »

Should have added I only made that _once_! I used DIY photo hangers after that "experience". Maybe you can consider that, many examples can be found and cheap, too.
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mearussi

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2018, 07:06:34 PM »

If you're looking at the same stuff I saw in Home Depot I would recommend instead their 1/8" plywood, and if it's large then glue some 1"x 2"s on the back to keep it from bending. What you use to mount it depends on what paper you're printing on. For RC (standard cheap glossy, luster) spray on adhesive, if paper or canvas then any wood glue would work.
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Stephen Ray

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2018, 09:55:11 PM »

Is this a bad idea?

Yes, bad idea.

If the print can be touched by people or things, you should have it professionally mounted to 1 or 2 inch gatorfoam at a large format print provider or sign shop in your area. The print should also be laminated but your print paper(?) may not be receptive to that.

If the print will definitely not be touched, you can just gallery-wrap the paper print around 1x2 inch lumber with staples.

Both of these methods are successfully used all the time.

Good luck.
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mscherlacher

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2018, 11:41:15 AM »

Maybe try hardboard, Masonite is the brand name. $8 for a 4'x8' sheet. If you have a local steel warehouse go there and pick up a stick of 1/2" square tube usually under $10 a 20' stick. Use the steel to reinforce the hardboard and to hang the piece from.
Of course you will need some basic tools for this, but it's cheap and effective. If you coat the hardboard with gesso, use a stable mounting addesive and spray the mounted print with print shield you would have a fairly reasonable long lasting piece.

You could go the plywood route too, if you do use the stuff made for underlayment it's about $17 a sheet and smooth and thin. On second thought the underlayment may be the best way of the two I mentioned, it may be lighter and stiffer. It's been a while since
I've bought a sheet. These are the best cheap options I can think of and of course there are much better ones but they will cost you. Some body here will come up with a winner for you.

Good luck.

mike
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pcgpcg

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2018, 08:20:17 PM »

Thank you so much to everyone who offered suggestions on how to mount large format prints. I successfully mounted the three photos and would not have been able to do it without the help from all of you. LULA rocks!

After carefully considering all the comments, here’s what I did:

I used the Lightroom export feature to size my prints to their final physical size in inches, 150 dpi, and sharpening for matte paper. I ordered low-cost prints from www.posterprintshop.com, and specified matte finish and a 2” border, as I wanted room for error.

The comments about the flammability of polystyrene convinced me to abandon that idea. I next considered Masonite, but was concerned about the acidity of this product eventually yellowing the prints. Even thought my goal was not archival quality, I wanted to avoid anything that would obviously be a problem if at all possible. I finally settled on Gatorboard. It was more expensive, but it was also lightweight and easy to work with. I purchased three sheets of ˝”x4’x8’ black Gatorboard locally ($83.34 each). I cut each sheet an inch larger in each dimension than the print w/borders. Again, not ever having done this, I wanted room for error, and that came free.

I was unable to find Gatorboard with adhesive available locally and the cost of shipping was prohibitive. So I purchased a 24” x 50’ roll of 3M568 Mounting Adhesive from Uline ($119.00 shipped).

At this point I was busy with another project that was higher priority so I had a week to worry and lie awake at night imagining all the ways this could go wrong. To make matters worse I had no time to try something different if it didn’t work, as a deadline was looming with no fudge factor built in. Fortunately it all went well. Here’s what I did…

Mounting Procedure: Note that I applied the adhesive first to the substrate, and not to the print, as suggested by the manufacturer. I did this because the recommended procedure would have been far too unwieldy for a print this size.

1) I prepared each print by unrolling it and letting it lie flat for a day. Then I rolled it up on a cardboard tube (I covered the outside of the tube with clean draft paper first to keep the print clean) with a strip of 24” wide draft paper lying in the middle on the face of the print, to protect the print when I unrolled it and pressed it into the Gatorboard. I rolled the print in the opposite direction from how I received it. This means the print face was facing inside the roll, and would allow me to unroll it face up. Being able to unroll the print in this fashion allows for a slow and controlled application of the print to the adhesive-covered substrate.

2) I then mounted the adhesive paper to the Gatorboard. This paper comes with protective paper on one side and the other side is slightly sticky. All of my prints were larger than 24” in the smallest dimension so it was necessary to lay down two strips of adhesive paper sided by side to cover the Gatorboard. I was greatly relieved to find that it was easier than I had feared to line the strips up so that there would be virtually no seam. I laid the slightly sticky side down, aligned the two strips, then used the provided plastic squeegee to press the paper firmly onto the Gatorboard, and finally used a razor blade to trim off the extra adhesive paper.

3) After all the adhesive paper was stuck to the Gatorboard, I proceeded to peel back the protective paper to expose the adhesive and discovered immediately that I needed to re-squeegee the paper so that the adhesive didn’t come up with the protective paper when I tried to pull it off. Doing that and pulling very slowly I was able to get it all off without any problems.

4) The next step required two helpers, one on either side of my work table, to hold the roll above the Gatorboard and slowly unroll it while I pressed the middle of the unrolling print onto the Gatorboard with my gloved hands. Since it was rolled up with some draft paper I was free to slide my hands around to ensure that it went down smoothly with no bubbles, etc. We unrolled about a foot of each print first, holding it away from the Gatorboard, so that I could do my best to align it properly before pressing it down, so it wouldn’t go off to one side as we unrolled it. Again, this was easier than I had feared. With the oversize Gatorboard and 2” margins I had plenty of room for slop, but ended up being off only about 1/8” over five feet. I think I was lucky and normally would expect to be off more than that.

5) I then went over the whole print with a laminate roller, working from the center out. Someone had commented to be careful not to press too hard and dimple the Gatorboard. Well I did that on the first print. Fortunately it's a small area and the print is mounted in a dimly lit room and it isn't noticeable. If you do this practice on some scrap Gatorboard first so you know what it takes to dimple it.

6) Next was trimming. I have a woodshop with a cabinet saw so this was easy. A high quality carbide blade went through the Gatorboard and paper like butter and left a very clean edge.

7) I didn’t varnish or otherwise protect the prints, primarily because I have no experience with this and didn’t want to ruin what was a good result so far. I may do it later after I’ve practiced on something smaller. The prints are mounted in a high-end restaurant and I don’t expect that there will be much of a problem with people touching them.

8 ) To address concerns about future warpage I decided to use the walls to hold the prints flat. I had a supply of aluminum French cleat material on hand so I epoxied a series of small cleats to the back of each print – on all sides and in the middle. I made a jig that registers to the edge of a print so I could install the cleats precisely and in a repeatable fashion. I then used a laser level on a tripod to mount the mating strips to the wall. I worked slowly and carefully and it took a little less than an hour to mount each print to the wall. The cleats hold the Gatorboard about a quarter inch off the wall.

Basically the entire process was easier than I’d expected and everything turned out well. I want to emphasize again that your responses to my post are what enabled me to get this project done. Note that what I ended up doing was quite different from my original plan. From your suggestions I determined that there were several methods that were likely much better than what I originally envisioned. Your willingness to take the time to contribute to the forum enabled me to formulate a mounting plan that was affordable, relatively easy, and worked out well. Thank you!




« Last Edit: April 30, 2018, 12:11:12 PM by pcgpcg »
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lara_ckl

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2018, 09:14:39 PM »

Congratulations!  Those look fabulous.  I don't think you would have gotten the same look with polystyrene insulation.
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framah

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2018, 11:04:36 AM »

Just as an afterthought here...

Remember that roll of paper inside the roll of PMA? That is laid onto the face of anything you are mounting and then that same squeegee is used to press the piece to the adhesive.
The PMA needs pressure to activate properly and squeegeeing it puts more pressure than a roller.

You would have to do it in sections but it does make for a stronger bond,


Not even going to mention that the PMA isn't rated to hold anything that large and that eventually, it will start to fail from the paper expanding at a different rate than the  gatorboard.

Nope, not going to mention that at all. :o
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pcgpcg

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2018, 01:01:28 PM »

Just as an afterthought here... the PMA isn't rated to hold anything that large...
What would you recommend instead?

... it will start to fail from the paper expanding at a different rate than the  gatorboard.
That seems odd since self-adhesive Gatorboard is available in 4' x 8' sheets. I'm wondering what kind of adhesive is used for that, that will not fail under those conditions. The PMA seems similar in feel to rubber cement, and I would think it would remain somewhat flexible over time.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 01:24:46 PM by pcgpcg »
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Dan Berg

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2018, 02:03:33 PM »

Gosh this is the perfect setup for canvas.
Print, spray or roll on protective coating.
Miracle muck with a roller onto gator board.
Canvas is repositionable on the muck.
Roll out any air bubbles.
Flip it over and trim with a razor.
Attach your hanger to the back of the gator and you are done.
So simple and now with the Timeless or Glamor II (Or others)overcoat it is protected from just about anything.
Yours looks really good but the first person the touches it with wet fingers it is toast.

mearussi

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2018, 07:32:08 AM »

Gosh this is the perfect setup for canvas.
Print, spray or roll on protective coating.
Miracle muck with a roller onto gator board.
Canvas is repositionable on the muck.
Roll out any air bubbles.
Flip it over and trim with a razor.
Attach your hanger to the back of the gator and you are done.
So simple and now with the Timeless or Glamor II (Or others)overcoat it is protected from just about anything.
Yours looks really good but the first person the touches it with wet fingers it is toast.
For anything really big I get lazy and just use Phototex--mounting problem solved.  :)
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BillK

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2018, 12:00:48 PM »

Agree with Framah,  PMA is fine for smaller prints, but will fail with prints as large as you are talking about. :-\
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framah

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2018, 03:48:39 PM »

If you can find Gatorboard WITH the adhesive already on it, then that adhesive has likely been rated to hold large stuff by the manufacturer.

Adhesives have a rated shear strength which is how much shearing movement it can withstand before failing.
 
That movement comes from the substrate you are mounting the piece on and the piece you are mounting...each expanding and contracting in different amounts and the adhesive is trying to keep to all together.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 03:53:08 PM by framah »
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little big man

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2018, 01:14:52 AM »

Since this topic wandered into the gatorboard arena, I'll just mention that Neschen's Gudy 831 mounting film has worked really well for me with gatorboard. 

Sean
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pcgpcg

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Re: Mounting a print to polystyrene insulation board
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2018, 11:14:02 AM »

Thanks for posting this Sean. A 24" wide roll is comparable in price to the 3M568, and the fact that it is also offered in a 51" wide roll implies that the manufacturer is not afraid to see it used in very large applications. The price of the 51" wide roll is discouraging if one only needed to mount a few photos, but I see no reason why you couldn't buy a 24" roll and use multiple strips, as I did with the 3M product.
http://www.talasonline.com/Gudy-831?custcol_matrix_size_vol=86

I know that 4'x8' Gatorboard is available in some locations with adhesive already applied, but I'm not aware of anyone who stocks it in Portland, OR, and that is probably the case in most areas. Apparently most distributors who stock 4'x8' Gatorboard w/o adhesive, do not also stock the product with the adhesive. A 24" roll of either 3M or Gudy product costs less than the price to ship one 4'x8' of Gatorboard.

Thanks again for posting. This is good information.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2018, 12:16:13 PM by pcgpcg »
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