Backing Board – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Conservation and Restoration Glossary

What is Backing Board?

Backing board is a rigid material that is used to support and protect artwork, photographs, and other delicate items. It is typically made from materials such as cardboard, foam board, or archival mat board. Backing board is placed behind the artwork within a frame to provide stability and prevent damage.

Backing board serves as a barrier between the artwork and the frame, helping to protect it from dust, moisture, and other environmental factors. It also helps to prevent the artwork from bending or warping over time.

Types of Backing Board

There are several types of backing board available, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits. Some common types include:
– Cardboard: This is a cost-effective option that provides basic support for artwork. However, cardboard is not archival quality and may degrade over time.
– Foam Board: Foam board is lightweight and rigid, making it a popular choice for framing. It is available in different thicknesses and can be easily cut to size.
– Archival Mat Board: This is a high-quality, acid-free option that is designed to protect artwork from damage. Archival mat board is recommended for valuable or irreplaceable pieces.

Purpose of Backing Board in Art Conservation

The primary purpose of backing board in art conservation is to provide support and protection for artwork. By using backing board, conservators can help prevent damage such as bending, warping, and tearing. It also helps to maintain the structural integrity of the artwork over time.

Backing board can also play a role in preventing environmental damage to artwork. By creating a barrier between the artwork and the frame, backing board can help protect against dust, moisture, and other harmful elements.

How to Choose the Right Backing Board

When choosing a backing board for artwork, it is important to consider factors such as the size and weight of the piece, as well as the level of protection required. Here are some tips for selecting the right backing board:
– Consider the archival quality of the material: For valuable or irreplaceable artwork, it is recommended to use archival mat board to ensure long-term protection.
– Choose a thickness that provides adequate support: The thickness of the backing board should be sufficient to support the weight of the artwork without bending or warping.
– Look for a material that is lightweight and easy to work with: Foam board is a popular choice for its lightweight and rigid properties, making it easy to handle and cut to size.

Proper Installation and Removal of Backing Board

Proper installation of backing board is essential to ensure the artwork is adequately supported and protected. Here are some guidelines for installing and removing backing board:
– Use acid-free tape or adhesive to secure the artwork to the backing board: This will help prevent damage to the artwork over time.
– Handle the artwork and backing board with care to avoid bending or tearing: When installing or removing backing board, be gentle and take your time to avoid causing damage.
– When removing backing board, carefully peel back the tape or adhesive to avoid tearing the artwork: Take your time and work slowly to ensure the artwork is not damaged during removal.

Common Issues and Solutions with Backing Board

Despite its benefits, backing board can sometimes present challenges in art conservation. Here are some common issues that may arise with backing board and potential solutions:
– Warping: If the backing board becomes warped, it can cause the artwork to bend or distort. To prevent warping, store artwork in a cool, dry environment and avoid exposure to moisture.
– Mold or mildew: If mold or mildew develops on the backing board, it can cause damage to the artwork. To prevent mold growth, store artwork in a well-ventilated area and monitor for signs of moisture.
– Acid migration: If the backing board is not acid-free, it can cause acid migration to the artwork, leading to discoloration or deterioration. To prevent acid migration, use archival quality materials and store artwork in a stable environment.

In conclusion, backing board plays a crucial role in art conservation by providing support and protection for artwork. By choosing the right backing board, properly installing and removing it, and addressing common issues, conservators can help ensure the long-term preservation of valuable artwork.