What is cold mounting and what are your options? Cold mounting is the application of a uniform coat of adhesive to the back of the artwork for the purpose of mounting it.
Cold mounting is distinguished from heat mounting in that it doesn’t require heat to activate the adhesive. Heat mounting (also known as dry mounting) is commonly performed with a dry mount press that heats up, melting the adhesive in a uniform coat between the artwork and the foam board. Cold mounting doesn’t require a mechanical press and is therefore much less expensive than heat mounting.
The least expensive method of cold mounting is to use spray adhesive to coat the back of the artwork. Using an aerosol adhesive spray like 3M Photo Mount, Spray Mount or Super77 has the virtue of being cheap and easily accessible, but it can be messy. To achieve a uniform coat with spray adhesive without build-up near the edges, the spray area must extend beyond the artwork itself.
Prepare your work area by laying out newspaper to catch the overspray. Always wear a paper respirator mask when using spray adhesive. Make sure your work area is well ventilated as aerosol particles may drift in the air, clinging to surrounding surfaces as it floats down. Lay the print face down on the newspaper. Hold the can of adhesive 6”-8” away from the back of the artwork and spray while moving the can back and forth, applying a uniform coat of adhesive. Spray beyond the edges of the artwork onto the surrounding newspaper. Attempting to stop at the edges of the artwork can cause build-up along the edges. Note that if the adhesive is not applied uniformly you may end up with air pockets or bubbles.
Immediately after spraying, pick up the artwork and place it face up on the foam board or other mounting surface. You must be quick because spray adhesive has a fairly quick set-up time. Set-up time is the time it takes for the adhesive to dry enough to bond permanently. Make sure you have made guide marks on the mounting surface so you can position the artwork accurately on the first attempt. If you fuss too long with the positioning, the artwork may adhere before you are satisfied.
Self-Adhesive Foam Boards
Self-Adhesive foam boards avoid the mess associated with spray adhesives. Simply peel off the release paper and mount the artwork to the tacky surface of the board by laying the artwork out gradually. Self-Adhesive foam boards can be reduced in a mat cutter to the size you want. They should be cut to size before the release paper is peeled off because cutting them with the adhesive exposed is difficult. Self-Adhesive mounting boards are practical when it’s your intention to use a window mat over the artwork or when the artwork will conform in size to the mounting surface. Because the entire surface of the board is covered with adhesive, they are not practical when you want to float mount the artwork or when you want to display the area surrounding the artwork.
Cold mounting is less expensive than heat mounting (dry mounting) and when done correctly can produce a fast, firm mount every bit as presentable as that produced by a dry mount press.