Picture Framing Glossary Part 1

15th Mar 2016

Whether someone owns a retail store or interior design company, it is important to know the terms associated with picture framing. This article explains the terminology, making it easier to purchase the latest antique oval frames, round photo frames, circular picture frames or black oval picture frames.

  • Absorbent – Term applied to papers that absorb water solutions or other liquids. Examples of absorbent papers are blotting and toweling products. Many mat boards tend to have absorbent properties.
  • Acid – A chemical substance with a pH less than 7.0. Acids can react with paper products such as photographs causing discoloration and shortening their lifespan.
  • Acid Burn – A permanent yellow or brown stain on paper art. Acid Burn occurs when artwork is framed with paper materials that are not acid-free.
  • Acid Etched – In glazing and decorative work, acid etching alters one or both sides of the glass sheet to change its reflective qualities. When the etching is completed, all acids are neutralized and the surfaces are cleaned.
  • Acid-Free – A term that describes paper materials with a pH of around 7.0. These materials are considered acid-free and are less likely to harm artwork or discolor over time. Paper materials with a pH below 6.5 or above 8.5 are not considered acid-free for the purposes of picture framing.
  • Acid-Free Paper – Paper manufactured such that active acids are not included or are eliminated. A paper that has a neutral pH factor of 6.5 to 7.5 at the time of manufacture. Acid-free paper can be produced from virtually any cellulose fiber source (cotton, wood or others) if measures are taken during manufacturing to eliminate active acid from the pulp. No matter how acid-free a paper may be immediately after manufacture, over time chemicals from processing or pollutants from the air may lead to the formation of acid in the paper. The presence of an alkaline buffer will reduce or eliminate damaging effects of these acids for the duration of the buffer's effectiveness. The most common buffering additive is calcium carbonate. Some acidic materials are chemically neutralized with the addition of alkaline products; other materials are processed to remove the acid.
  • Acid Hydrolysis – A chemical reaction where the acid in the paper reacts with moisture in the air, causing breaks in the chain of molecules making up the paper. The end result is weak, brittle paper.
  • Acid Migration – The movement of acid from an acidic material to a material of lesser or no acidity.
  • Acrylic – A clear, industrial plastic used as a substitute for glass in picture framing.
  • Acrylite® – Trade name for high quality conservation grade acrylic glazing.
  • Adhesive – A bonding agent, such as glue or paste, for joining two materials.
  • Adhesive Coated Boards – A board with an adhesive coating on one side that may be neat-activated or pressure sensitive.
  • Adhesive Release – A chemical solvent used to remove artwork from its mounting.
  • Alkaline – A substance with a pH greater than 7.0 is considered alkaline. Alkaline substances added to acidic materials will help neutralize the acid.
  • Alkaline Paper – Paper manufactured with sheet alkalinity, most commonly associated with the presence of calcium carbonate filler.
  • Alpha Cellulose – The purest form of cellulose. Cellulose is the chief constituent of all plants. Cellulose has three chemical forms or classifications: Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. The Alpha form of cellulose has the longest, and therefore the most stable chemical chain, in turn creating the longest and strongest paper-making fibers.
  • Anodized – A metallic surface (such as a picture frame) that has been electrolytically coated with a protective or decorative oxide. Anodizing protects the aluminum parts by making the surface much harder than natural aluminum.
  • ANSI – An acronym for the American National Standards Institute.
  • Archival Components – Are framing materials such as mat board, mount board and acrylic that are designed to help preserve and protect the artwork from the damage and degradation caused by acids, light and pollution. This includes components made pH neutral or slightly alkaline to help with acidity, those with UV protection to help with light, and those with zeolites to help with pollution.
  • Artwork Sandwich – The stack of components, ex. mat board, backer board and glazing.
  • Artwork Size – The measured size of the actual image, not including borders or paper size. For example: you can have an image with an 8”x 10” artwork size printed on an 8.5”x 11” sheet of paper.
  • ASTM – An acronym for the American Society for Testing and Materials.
  • ATG TapeA name brand for adhesive transfer tape, similar to double-sided tape but it is adhesive, sticky on both sides, without the tape. ATG actually means Adhesive Tape Gun, and ATG tape is dispensed from the Adhesive Tape Gun. Used for photos, framing, matting, crafts and scrapbooking.
  • Back Paper – Also known as a dust cover, is a liner paper adhered to the back of a frame. The back paper keeps dust and insects out of the frame package. It also helps reduce fluctuations in humidity, limits the infiltration of environmental gases, and gives your framed artwork a professional look.
  • Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) – Polypropylene that has been biaxially oriented, which causes it to become crystal clear making it an excellent packaging material for artistic and retail products.
  • Bleed – To give up color when in contact with water or a solvent. Undesired movement of materials to the surface or into an adjacent material.
  • Buffered – A process where calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate is added to mat board to make it more alkaline and therefore more likely to absorb acids and other environmental pollutants.
  • Buffering Agent – Chemical added to regulate the pH of paper. The most common buffering agent is calcium carbonate (CaCO3).
  • Calcium Carbonate – A chemical (CaCO3), occuring in nature as oyster shells, calcite, chalk, limestone, etc. or obtained commercially by chemical precipitation. Calcium carbonate is used as a filler in alkaline paper-making, as coating pigment and as a buffering agent.