Do you need a backing board? Probably yes. A backing board (also known as an undermount or liner) is a key part of the framing. It not only keeps the picture flat against the back of the mount (pass-partout) but it also serves as a barrier against any acidity in the back of the picture frame. Off the shelf frames, and photoframes are frequently backed with MDF, so the backing board layer helps to protect your picture or photo.
Armed with the above info, you should be able to specify and order a custom frame mount at any picture framers shop counter. You'll be helping yourself, and helping the framer to give you quality framing advice.
If they have to cut a mount by hand on a manual machine it can be a bit of a bind. That's maybe why we have happy repeat customers all over the UK who buy from our online shop. The website works out the price, then its a simple click-and-buy, and it arrives delivered to your home, office or desk in a few days. Its "fire and forget" shopping.- so easy. (see for yourself here, no need to buy!.) If you get the irresistible urge to click the "add to cart" button, and buy your picture mounts online from us, we wont mind. After all, its often easier to click, than find and visit a frame shop, then go back again next week, or the week after and pick up your order. Many framers will accommodate a genuine emergency "while-u-wait" mount cutting job, picture framers are people too, and some are helpful, some are not. But many (wrongly in our opinion) turn away, or don't value customers who simply want a mount to fit into their own picture frame.
Fire and Forget shopping is just the sort of thing a nation full of blokes do on ebay a fortnight before Christmas. You have to weigh up whether the delivery charge is saving you the time and cost (car parking, perhaps) of two special journeys. Or a first time visit to a framer who may, or may not, tell you to naff-orf because you already have a nice frame from Ikea, your picture doesn't quite fit, and you only want a picture mount. At Moonshine Framing we value all our customers, online and at the shop counter. Our only regret is that we are frequently too busy to reply to emails or get to the phone quickly enough.
In most cases you should be able to buy a frame mount off the shelf in a high street photography shop, big-box DIY store, or elsewhere. But remember that most of those mass produced frames and their mounts are made down to a price, and they will usually be neutral ph and cream core rather than acid free/conservation quality white core, which is the better quality, and which we offer over our own shop counter as the "default" board for bespoke framing and special order picture mounts.
The tell tale signs (or otherwise) of a framer with quality board:
Some picture framers won't use standard mounts at all, preferring only to stock one brand or another of acid free white core board or conservation mount board.
This is great for keeping their costs down, and their stock management easy, sometimes it helps them keep prices keen if a competitor is playing the "price cutting monkey" game. Cutting prices often means cutting corners, and it may limit your choice. After all, its good to have a choice, and not get the feeling that they are saying "this is all we have got".
We offer both standard and conservation quality in our online picture mount shop. For bespoke work, we use and recommend acid free white core, preferably a conservation standard. There is no difference in price at the shop counter, because we do not want our customers to sacrifice quality for price. So when we mount pictures for framing at its conservation quality, but standard board prices - Online we have discounted the standard boards so that realistic savings can be made, specially if you are putting a few pictures into DIY or ready made frames -you make the informed choice which is the right board for your picture.
Some picture framers (like us) prefer to keep a variety of types in stock, not merely a choice of colours, so that they always have the right board for your picture mounts. That way you get an equal choice regardless of your budget. We stock Slater Harrison's Colourmount in standard, Acid Free and Conservation quality. As a rule the darker colours just slip out of the official "conservation" category only because of the colour pigment in the face papers. In practice these face papers are not in contact with your mounted art.
Our own "Key Colours" are not tied to any one supplier or make of board. They have been selected carefully, and they are based upon what our customers order, both nationwide, and at the shop counter. Arquadia boards are in stocked in the standard for Acid-Free/Conservation mounts.
Look for a framer who stocks quality brands, rather than generic ones. Many of the "generics" are actually manufactured by top quality manufacturers, but usually sold in bulk packs. This is fine if the framer has a brisk business and turns over the stock quickly, because the customer will always be getting fresh board. . Sometimes generics are bulk packed in wrapping that is designed to get them only from the warehouse to the bulk user, where they are opened immediately and used up quickly. Problems start for the customer when framers start trying to cut quality picture mounts from board that has been lying around in opened packs that have been in the racks for months, or even years. If its a busy place, no worries, the board will probably be factory fresh, specially the fast moving popular colours (whites, creams blacks, bottle green, midnight blue etc).
If it is a small framers, a home business or a one man band, the chance is that he or she orders the board in as they need it, not in bulk. So you can be fairly sure that its come in a smaller sealed "retail" pack straight from the wholesaler. In our workshops we seldom have a bulk pack of a popular colour more than a week old.
Modern mount boards are designed to last for years, in fact the art-bak backing we use and supply is supposed to be guaranteed for 300 years! But bear in mind that mount colours may vary batch by batch. This is rare, but does happen. And your old mounts (particularly standard board) may have faded slightly over time too.