The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Conservation Issues

Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby SquareFrames » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:42 am

Hi Ormonde,

I have bee using MDF for many, any years without any problems, I have also been using Corri-Cor, and other corrugated, fluted boards for a few years as well. I will continue to ue it when its required, i.e. when other boards dont work and curve too much, I have even used Foam Core board as a acking board (one or twice) its far too expensive here in the UK to continually use it, but I have no qualms of using MDF when required, and informing others to use it, as lng as one thing, its not cut using a high speed saw, using wall mounted material cutters such as the Fletcher 3100 and Keencut Excalibur range, etc, there is no problem with it (in my humble opinion) I havent heard of any picture framers in the UK getting health problems cutting MDF in this way.
Now, if only I could get off my 10 Richmond Superkings a day, I have given up on alchohol (years ago), darned harder to give up the nicotine weed.....never tried other forms of weed or wacy bacy......so dont have to give that up........I just keep on 'doing what I have to do'
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby John » Thu Jul 22, 2010 9:23 am

Of course there are times when the ultimate conservation standards should apply, but for most of the jobs that come our way, we have found MDF to be perfectly suitable and we like the way it provides physical protection as well as adding structural strength to the job.

We will continue to use it, regardless of the emotive rhetoric that can be found here and elsewhere, until were convinced that we shouldn’t by some actual hard evidence.

Yes, MDF is not a “conservation” material, but I would like to see some proof that, when used with a barrier board, the artwork is not adequately protected (at least, for 99% of the artwork that we frame)?

It could be that in an accelerated ageing test, artwork framed with an MDF outer backing, would begin to show signs of deterioration sooner. But by how much? My hunch is, not enough to be significant.
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby birdman » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:39 am

We now only very occasionally use mdf, mainly strutbacks for budget frames. In general we use Back 10 conservation board, it's easy to use and cleaner than mdf and probably more important we hardly get any 'flumbs'.

If we followed the argument for not using mdf through to it's conclusion we would not use wood for the frames either because they too contain acid and have to be kept away from the artwork.

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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby prospero » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:43 am

Just to show that I do actually take notice of what's said on this forum, I have reached a compromise re. MDF. For some time I have used a barrier of polyprop film behind the backing board. It's cheap and quick to cut. I just plonk the back on it and slice around. So I retain the superior strength/rigidity of MDF and (hopefully) negate the (alleged) ill effects.

Comments? :roll:
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby Dermot » Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:11 pm

[quote="prospero

polyprop film behind the backing board.

[/quote]


Will Polyprop Film not outgass :giggle: :mrgreen: :D :head: :roll: :sweating:
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby prospero » Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:26 pm

Dermot wrote:

Will Polyprop Film not outgass :giggle: :mrgreen: :D :head: :roll: :sweating:



:lol: OK. I'm going out to buy some tinfoil. :D (I may be some time......)
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby Roboframer » Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:57 pm

I can't argue ref strength and the probability that a minimum of a 4 ply undermount will protect artwork for a good time regardless of your choice of backing board.

I've read/heard that MDF is quite absorbent (didn't someone successfuly hoover through it)?? and other bad things but I've not seen any lab tests and probably wouldn't understand them if I did. I've just chosen to use better stuff which cuts easier and has a multitude of other uses, all to conservation standard and I plug the hell out of that to my customers.

I think many framers dropped, or at least started using far far less MDF when corricor was invented some years back after someone started a big MDF health scare (probably the people making corricor!)

As for wooden frames, well, end grain is more of a threat than side grain and you can always seal the rebate and also seal the glass/mount/undermount 'sandwhich' with foil tape. So you could argue that is no different to a barrier from MDF except that, in the case of mounted work, the frame is nowhere near the artwork (a wooden slip may be though) and the MDF covers the whole back of it only 1.4 mm behind an undermount - and if it DOES cause or accelerate any type of growth etc, you won't see it until it's too late and it comes through to the front of the artwork. 'If' is a big word which can be made smaller!

I like the light weight of foam board and for a standard job the cost of the under mount can cancel out the cost of a foam board backing. Arqadia's Jumbo eco board is (FATG) conservation quality and costs something silly like £1.64 a sheet for jumbo size, which is bigger than 60x40.
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby SquareFrames » Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:55 pm

Hi

I agree its all like de ja vu all over again, but this subject of MDF will continue to pop up from time to time, and rightly so. I agree with Roboframer that a lot of framers dropped MDF as soon as Corri-Cor came onto the market, and again rightly so, its a personal choice. Like most framers now who continue to use MDF, for me there is no problem, no factual papers saying MDF is causing harm to artwork, some say its helps or enhances mould growth, for me I have found a dfifferent outcome, at no time in all my years framing have I never had a piece of MDF 'go bad' and for me that should be enough, especially when I am teaching and using it everyday in my school. But I also show every student the other boards that are available on the market. For exapmle, I have one former student who is unable to use MDF as his Fletcher 3000 is unable to cut it, so he uses D&J Simons' Back10 and Arqadia's fluted boards, on my recommendation.

Now like a lot of framers who still use MDF, these framers may also use other types of board; Birdman says he uses MDF now for budget frames and uses mostly Back10, an excellent board, but I personally use it for drymounting when I have to use the Hotpress which isnt that often (as stated in another post), I also use fluted boards provided by Arqadia in both sizes and also their white backed board, which is another excellent board, and they also provide a 'green' somehwhat flimsy board which is said to be Museum standard, but I havent used it although I have it in stock. That's my personal choice not to use it. There is also a silver foil backed board for mainly use in areas where high humidity is a problem, such as bathrooms, etc. I have used it, but not that often

I also an in total agreement with Roboframer when he says that the end grain of moulding could cause more harm to the artwork rather than the MDF or other backing boards, and agree that this can be solved by taping up and sealing the end grain.

There are a few ways of protecting the artwork from the materials we use, we as framers just have to use the best ones available, and the best methods / techniques at the time of doing certain jobs, if that means thats one franmer uses MDF, another Corri-Cor, another Back10, etc., as long as the artwork is under no threat, there is no problem.

ANYHOW
Anyone in Northern Ireland intersested in the last share of 288 sheets of MDF, 50 sheets remaining: 1.25 a sheet + VAT (sorry my Pound sign on keyboard isnt working)

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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby prospero » Thu Jul 22, 2010 9:47 pm

Just to throw more coal on the fire......

There is MDF and then there is MDF. It varies. I have had some that is very unpleasant. I can only describe it as 'sweaty'. :? And then there is the nice dry smooth stuff. :D
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby Roboframer » Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:49 pm

SquareFrames wrote:I also an in total agreement with Roboframer when he says that the end grain of moulding could cause more harm to the artwork rather than the MDF or other backing boards, and agree that this can be solved by taping up and sealing the end grain.


I didn't say end grain could cause more damage than MDF and I was talking about sealing the rebate of a frame, which will be side grain with 99.9% of mouldings.

Cut a plank at ninety degrees and that's end grain, therefore a 45 degree mitre joint is not pure end grain and it doesn't matter anyway as the mitres are butted together to still leave no end grain in the rebate.

I'd only seal the rebate for a close-framed conservation job and wouldn't use a wood that 'weeps' like pine anyway, and if I sealed the glass (etc) 'sandwich' for any reason, it would not be to protect from the wood (even though that would be achieved) but to help prevent air and bugs getting in.

It's funny, I've tried my hardest to find MDF used as a backing on TFG and I can't - there's mention of 'Masonite' boards, which I think is what we'd call hardboard, but not as a frame backing.

The mention of things that are likely to do more harm than working with MDF, like cigarettes, is interesting and reminds me of the Bob Newhart/Walter Raleigh sketch (which I'd be eternally grateful to anyone that could find it - I can't but have in the past) - Imagine if tobacco was never invented, or should I say used for smoking .... no-one in the world had ever smoked and the world apart from that was still as it is now - scared of living near pylons, Global warming, wearing face masks in polluted cities - all the Health and Safety stuff etc - and then some nutter comes along and suggests drying out some leaves, rolling them up, setting light to them and inhaling the fumes.

We'd lock the idiot up!
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby Keith Hewitt » Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:06 am

SquareFrames wrote:ANYHOW
1.25 a sheet + VAT (sorry my Pound sign on keyboard isnt working)

Steven



Just a tip - when needing the £ sign, many involved in export instead use the following... :idea:

GBP - USD - EUR - AUD, etc etc. because the £ sign or $ sign may/will come up as another symbol, when using e mails to/from other countries. For example some Europeans when they use their sign, it comes up as a ? on my computer. And when its a ? symbol- you have no idea if its meant to be a £ or a :?
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby John » Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:31 am

In Windows, you can use the keypad in combination with the Alt key to display those hard to reach symbols: -

  • Alt 156 - £ (Pound)
  • Alt 0128 - € (Euro)
  • Alt 155 - ¢ (Cent)
  • Alt 157 - ¥ (Yen)
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby Primrose » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:15 pm

Love this thread!
So many framers with so much time!!
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby Not your average framer » Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:24 pm

SquareFrames wrote:MDF is the best board for large items and its lies faltter and is more stable. (my opinion)


In my own experience, MDF is not always as flat or stable as suggested, nor it is always the cheapest option.

In my own opinion, foamboard beats most other boards available from framing suppliers for flatness and stability. There are times when I need to use 6mm MDF, but it is always as a last resort.

I no longer use Art-bak or CorriCor, as I prefer solid core boards, such as the Solid kraft range, Simons BACK/10, etc. I think these are much stronger than corrogated boards and depending upon the supplier, the price can be very good too!

I used to use Brittannia's CombCor 5mm thick corrogated backing board, which is exceptionally strong and ridgid, but as the recession started to bite it was another stock item to justify. A nice product, but I only bought one box at a time and with carriage charges spread over so few sheets, I dropped it!

I still have a need for something more durable from time to time and either resort to 6mm MDF (the easy option),or (the better option) of a sandwich of 3.5mm foamboard with standard 1.4mm mountboard laminated to both surfaces in the heated press. This later option is extremely solid, durable and can be a good way to use up and left over mountboard in difficult colours, but more labour for the customer to pay for.
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby Graysalchemy » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:38 am

To add my two peneths worth I use 1.8mm Kraft Board. It cuts easily (unlike MDF) with blade, guillotine or a wall cutter, looks like MDF doesn't bow IMHO. It is probably as nasty as anything else regarding conservation but if you are framing to a reasonable level you will be using a barrier board anyway. It doesn't have the health issues of MDF and is cheap.

Having said all that I use a hell of a lot of MDF in commercial jobs for board mounting, chalk boards, display boards etc which I buy in pre cut to try and limit the health risk however it is always covered in dust.
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Re: The merits of MDF Backing Board?

Postby prospero » Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:20 pm

Cardboard does cut more easily than MDF. That's because it is not as dense and therefore does not provide the same degree of protection. :P If I'm framing something worth 1000s I want something substantial guarding it's six-o-clock. :)

Health issues with MDF? All this goes back a few years when there was a alarming report about breathing in MDF dust. But that report was concerned with workers sawing big chunks of the stuff day-in day-out in furniture factories. The amount framers use is not in the same league. And apart from that, cutting with a rotary blade doesn't produce anything like the amount of dust. There are far more clear and present dangers in the average framing workshop that we live with every day than the MDF of Doom. Unfortunately these scares persist. It's a bit like the Anthax panic in the US a few years back. People walking the streets wearing breathing masks. About a million times more likely to get hit by a bus than inhale Anthax spores. Better off with a suit of armour. :lol:
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