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I have a few relatively new both screen and digital printed concert posters which were rolled. I would like to frame them in exact size frames but I am not sure how to go about safely doing that without them sticking to the glass. I can't use spacers as they aren't perfectly flat and I don't want to dry mount them.

Is my only option then to use acrylic to frame them? I already have UV glass and I'm not sure what the chances of it sticking to the glass are. If there is a high chance they will stick to the frames should I bite the bullet and spend a little more for acrylic? And if so should I get abrasion resistant (even more expensive...) or normal? Is TAP Plastics my best bet for acrylic or somewhere else?

Also polycarbonate is a no go here right? Finally, I also saw that wooden frames can leech lignin into the borders of art if they don’t have a border around it. Should I be sticking to metal frames then? Or is that not a huge deal? Currently my frames are black painted (not sure about treatment) MDF

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    You say you do not want to mount the posters so this is not an answer but... Putting that air gap in between the work and the glass is the purpose of matting. It doesn't really matter what the "glass" material is, if there is contact it can lead to water damage from condensation, maybe abrasion and sticking. As far as the frames go, MDF will definitely be leaching chemicals that could damage the work over a long stretch of time. Matting (mounting) properly will space the work away from any hazards, without it you will be at risk of damaging the posters.
    – rebusB
    Nov 18, 2023 at 15:28
  • @rebusB it was my understanding that matting wouldn’t do much as the paper was previously rolled so it would still touch the glass in the middle.
    – ajgrinds
    Nov 19, 2023 at 4:31
  • The matte should overlap all sides of the work so that would not happen. Its also why though its counter intuitive posters should be rolled with the image outfacing.
    – rebusB
    Nov 20, 2023 at 15:22
  • @rebusB I dont want a matte.
    – ajgrinds
    Nov 20, 2023 at 22:17

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Based on my research, I went to TAP Plastics and purchased OP3 acrylic ($16.75 / sqft).

It is much clearer, and more known than what Michaels was trying to sell me for the same price called "Conservation Acrylic". There is a way to get them to bundle a custom frame and the not-so-clear acrylic for $42, but it is of the same unknown brand.

I can return the glass I bought from Hobby Lobby and they will install the new acrylic for free.

As for the overall best conservation on a budget with already rolled posters, here is what I am doing: (Yes I know it would be better at a custom framer but I am on a budget) (Price is for 18x24)

$16.99 black MDF frames premade from either Hobby Lobby, Michaels, or Amazon. (Wait for either 50% off, 70% off, or buy one get two free) The frames aren't amazing but they look pretty nice, are cheap, and are good enough. Everyone says don't get MDF, but they have been fine so far. Michael’s frames are higher quality than Hobby Lobby imo. They also come with glass, not that we care, and usable mounting brackets if you wanted to be super cheap and save $3 buy buying the wire yourself. (You’d have to wire a lot of frames to make it worthwhile tho) However, they have horrible staples that are a pain to take out. There is an image comparison below, I’m not sure there’s a huge difference but given the choice I’m choosing Michael’s.

$12 Lineco Frame Sealing Tape to prevent any lignins in the MDF from leaching into my art. You don't need a whole roll per frame, just a few cents worth. I got it from Amazon, local stores are significantly more expensive. Hobby Lobby will seal it for you for free if you use them to buy the foam backing. Not sure about Michaels.

$50.25 OP3 (UV) Acrylic from TAP. It's currently $16.75 / sqft or you can get anti-glare for just a little more. I didn't get anti-glare as I don't like how it makes the colors seem dull, scratches easier, costs just a little more, and if it does scratch, you can't buff it without removing the glare coating. Glass was my first choice but glass doesn't allow the print to breathe which can cause it to stick or to mold, it is heavier, and it can shatter potentially ruining the art. Matteing would be better to keep the poster off the glazing material, but I want exact-size frames and the concert posters generally have to be rolled when you're at the concert to prevent immediate damage.

$6 acid-free foam backing. It's not Japanese cotton, so it may still contain some lignins but it should be very good.

$3 mounting from Hobby Lobby: points, screws, paper backing, and mounting wire.

Hobby Lobby might tell you that backing paper won't stick to the MDF paint but it will, if you push back they are likely to just paper it for you anyway. If they don't, you can buy some online. If they do and it doesn't stick, Elmer's glue. yes, it's not great but it is so far away from the art that it will be fine.

The total cost for my frames is around $77.50 each and should preserve and display my art for years to come.

Some other notes: working with an independent shop is great, but they won't be nearly as forgiving if you change your mind and will likely cost a little bit more than a chain store. That being said, if going with a truly custom frame, they will definitely be able to help you way better than the big box stores.

The Queen poster (red, front) is Hobby Lobby and the Metallica poster (colorful, back) is Michaels. Images

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    "Everyone says don't get MDF, but they have been fine so far." As with most things art conservative, it might take a long time for signs of deterioration to show up. A lot of this type of advice is therefore hard to assess. It's like the well-known fat-over-lean rule for oil painting: if it's not abided, signs will show up, but it could be well past one's lifetime. Just to say that this is usually a consideration between price/practicality on the one hand, and longevity/preservation on the other.
    – Joachim
    Nov 21, 2023 at 7:35
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    @Joachim what I found as the reasoning for not getting MDF doesn’t usually have to do with the preservation of the artwork, rather the longevity of the frame. If the frame breaks down so be it it can be replaced.
    – ajgrinds
    Nov 22, 2023 at 16:59
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    That makes sense, yes.
    – Joachim
    Nov 22, 2023 at 18:13
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    So what about contact with the glass, or in this case plastic? I do not see where your original question was addressed. The Acrylic specs talk about UV protection but nothing about moisture or "breathing" more than glass. Both seem pretty impermeable. Did I miss something?
    – rebusB
    Nov 22, 2023 at 19:40
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    @rebusB yes. It is still touching the acrylic but the acrylic is porous and doesn’t absorb heat (or lack of) like glass. This means that moisture won’t condense on the cold glass as the image and air on the other side heats up. It also means that it can allow any moisture coming off the image to escape rather than getting stuck between the art and the glazing.
    – ajgrinds
    Nov 23, 2023 at 21:02

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