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Face Mounted Photographic Prints - What Are They?

face mounted photographs

Methods For Mounting Your Photo Prints Explained

So you’ve taken a wonderful photograph & you’re excited to get it printed & displayed on your wall.

There’s a number of choices for printing & displaying photographs & one of those is face mounting to a variety of mediums.

So what is face mounting? It’s when a printed photograph is attached to a substrate, or backing board, in readiness for display or framing. A photograph can be face mounted to a number of various mediums in a few different ways.

Depending on the substrate used, slightly different methods of face mounting will be used.

There’s a fantastic choice of materials available, each with their own unique look & applications.


Explore how many types of photographic paper, as well as other print mediums are available for your photos with this guide to print materials.


3 Types Of Backing Boards Used For Face Mount Photos

One of the most popular ways to mount a photograph is to a mounting board.

Once mounted, a print can then either be framed or simply displayed as is.

There’s a few choices when it comes to mounting boards.

1. Polyurethane

The most recognised brand name is Gatorboard, but other manufacturers offer their own versions.

Polyurethane is a lightweight, but durable foam that is resistant to bending or warping.

Being lightweight makes it ideal for larger prints.

Gatorboard mounting substrate

2. Museum Mounting Boards

Made from 100% cotton, they are acid free & trap airbourne contaminants, making them the best choice for archival prints.

They are more expensive, but are suited to fine art & limited edition prints.

museum quality photo mounting boards

3. Dibond

Used in commercial applications, it's also a great solution for exhibiting large prints.

A hard plastic or PVC core is sandwiched between 2 aluminium sheets.

It’s still relatively lightweight but extremely sturdy.

Dibond photo mounting boards

Unless you’re framing the photograph, a clear coat is applied to seal the photographic paper, thus protecting it from UV & contaminants that can degrade the image over time.


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A clear coat can still be applied when framing, but usually the print will sit behind a sheet of UV glass or Perspex.


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Face Mounted Acrylic Prints

Different to mounting on a backing substrate, face mounted acrylic prints are created by the photograph being attached to the back of an acrylic sheet with the image facing forward.

The photograph is sandwiched between the acrylic & a backing substrate.

Viewed through this thickness of refractive acrylic, sometimes referred to as Plexiglass, is what gives these types of print their depth & colour vibrancy.


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Face Mounted Metal Prints

Metal, sometimes known as aluminium prints, have become quite popular.

They can sometimes be more expensive, but offer a fantastic quality & image depth.

There’s 3 printing methods, each offering their own unique characteristics.


Discover more about metal prints with this comprehensive guide.


But the face mounting method is simply the photograph being mounted to the aluminium substrate.

A UV & scratch resistant clear coat is applied to seal & protect the print.

These types of metal prints can be framed or hung as is.

Wood Panel Mounted Photographs

A unique way to present your photograph is mounting it to wood.

An image can also be transferred to wood, but this is a different process.

Again, it’s simply attaching the photographic print to treated wood & sealing with a protective coat.

Various timber can be used from bamboo, MDF to chunkier wood blocks.

Obviously weight will be a factor for larger prints, but wood is a fabulous & unique method for displaying an image.

Final Thoughts

Face mounting a photograph is one of the simplest methods for displaying an image.

But simple doesn’t mean inferior.

Nowadays there’s a great range of professional photographic papers, quality inks & print labs using the latest flatbed printing technology.

Many print labs offer face mounting to a medium of your choice, but if you already have a bunch of images you’d like to display, you can try mounting them yourself.

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