As much as mounts are important to protect paper prints in photo frames, it’s not always the case you want to use a mount board, perhaps feeling an edge-to-edge finish would better suit the photo you’re framing. It should be noted; spacers are not only suited to paper prints. They’re suitable for all types of frameable material, including needlework as the increased space can prevent mould from developing on the thread, which is sometimes referred to as thread rot.
Why Space Matters
With picture mounts, the reason they’re used is to put a barrier between a print and the glazing to prevent damage, such as image transfer, which can happen if your photo sticks to the glass. If you’ve ever had an old photo that’s sat in a frame for years with no space between the print and the glazing, there’s a good chance part of the photo will have stuck to the glass. Removing stuck photos from glass is tricky and usually results in damage if it’s not done carefully and with a lot of patience. That problem is prevented when you frame with a mount board, but if you don’t want the border appearance surrounding your photo inside the frame, all’s not lost.
Frame spacers are the borderless solution to create space inside the frame. The reason space is needed isn’t just to prevent paper sticking to glass. It’s also to prevent mould and mildew from forming. Inside frames, regardless of how airtight they’re sealed, there’s going to be humidity changes. Without sufficient airflow in the frame, prints can buckle, and wood frame materials can warp. There needs to be sufficient airflow to prevent extreme humidity from encouraging fungi growth with the potential to ruin your printed material.
Types of frame spacers
Most frame spacers will be plastic and have a super thin profile. Spacers are attached to the edge of a frames glazing. In terms of colour choices, there are only two. Black or transparent. Both are suitable for creating space inside a frame to improve air circulation. It’s also possible to use these to enhance your frame by creating more space between the frame, the mount and the picture to give your finished framed photo more depth.
Increasing airflow on the reverse of frames can be just as important
For frames that’ll keep your sentimental prints protected for longer, airflow in all areas of the frame is important. Mould spores only settle where there’s high climate fluctuations such as what happens when a frame is hung on an external wall, exposed to extreme drops in temperatures during the night. For the reverse of frames, inside the frame, some strips of acid-free foam board can create a barrier between the reverse of your print and the backing board material, giving it some added protection against any potential problems on the backing board.
To increase the airflow between the frame and the wall you hang it on, a good tip is to attach some cork material to the corners which will act as bumpers, keeping the reverse of the frame from pushing up tight against the wall, restricting airflow.
Frame spacers at the front of your frame and cork on the back will increase airflow in and around your frame, keeping your prints protected for longer.