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Why Foamcore and Commonly Used Backing is Bad for Your Framing

This image shows how foamcore yellows, out gases and deteriorates over time

This image shows how foamcore yellows, out gases and deteriorates over time

Many framing businesses use foamcore in their framing projects.  When I am asked to remove a prior framing job done elsewhere, it is almost always backed with foamcore.

On many previous blogs, I continually mention that foamcore is very harmful to artwork.  As you can see in the accompanying photograph, the print was framed with foamcore, maybe 10 years ago.  In that short time, the core, or central interior portion of the board has greatly discolored.  This is evidenced by the release of out gassing from the foamcore.

This, in turn, will contact your artwork or, even your college diploma and can do a variety of things to effect the appearance.  From discoloring to fading, etc., your prized possession will be affected.

Additionally, other non retail based frame stores, like college diploma frame sellers use backing that is just as bad as foamcore.  The backing or mounting board maybe in the form of wood pulp based material, chipboard or even fiberboard.

Any of these backing boards are very bad for your artwork and documents, and must be avoided.  Over time, the acids or out gassing will release from these boards and contact your item.  In turn, as mentioned earlier, a number of things can happen.

The best backing boards include archival grade corrugated plastic sheets (also known as Coroplast® ), archival fluted polypropylene sheets, and conservation corrugated boards. All of these backing boards are 100% museum grade, inert, fully acid free and lignin free.  These boards are firm enough, like the prior mentioned  backing boards, but without the contamination that these boards have.

The true quality test is to examine the material after being framed for some years. With the acidic boards or foamcore, you will notice the change in either the boards or the artwork.  The museum grade boards will stand up, not break down and stay stable in appearance.

A final note, any backing boards mentioned, even the archival grade ones should never be used immediately behind your diploma or artwork.  There should always be a minimum 4 ply 100% cotton rag barrier to protect it.  Then, the thicker archival boards should be used.  So, 2 layers of backing should always be used.

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