What is Foam Core Mounting? How is it Done?

Thinking about mounting photos or posters onto foam core for display? Great idea! Foam board is an attractive, versatile, and inexpensive material for displaying images. The mounting process is also quick and straightforward. Here is everything you need to know about printing and mounting onto foam board for your next project:

What is foam core mounting?

Foam core mounting is a common display technique that involves adhering an image to a board with a foam core and a matte paper surface. Mounting photos or posters on foam core is an attractive way to complement an image without overwhelming it. It is furthermore inexpensive, lightweight, and long lasting when displayed indoors.

foam core mounting display
Photo by Jason Travino

What is foam core?

Foam core is a sturdy, lightweight material that is easy to cut, which makes it an exceptional choice for mounting photographic prints, posters and banners. It consists of a polystyrene clad center layer sandwiched between two outer layers of white clay-coated, matte paper. Foam core is known by many names, including “foamcore,” “foamboard,” and “paper-faced foam.”

What is foam core mounting?

This technique involves affixing a photographic image to a foam board for display. This can be done with glue, adhesive spray or double-sided adhesive sheets, but many foam core boards come with self-adhesive coatings.

What about mounting posters onto foam core myself?

Professional mounting services are affordable, fast, and frustration-free. It is possible to do foam core mounting on your own, and some people do attempt to mount posters or prints themselves. However, keep in mind that, the larger the print, the more difficult the process will be without the proper tools or an adequate work space. The use of improper materials or techniques can lead to bubbles, wrinkles or warping. Our rule of thumb: if you’d need a print shop to print the image you are trying to mount, you will likely need a print shop to do the foam core mounting as well.

foam board mounting
Photo by Dean Hochman

What are the most common uses for foam core mounting?

There are hundreds of practical uses for foam core mounting. Foam core prints, posters and signs are perfect for presentations, trade shows, projects, community events, directional signage, advertising materials, lectures, and home design. Lightweight, portable and easy to customize, they add visual pop to office spaces and modern flair to bland home interiors. While foam core mounted images are long-lasting, they are also ideal for temporary use due to their low cost.

What are the advantages of foam core mounting?

Mounting posters on foam core is a fast, cost-effective way to make an impression. Because foam core is ultra lightweight, large images can be hung on walls or suspended from ceilings with ease. Foam core artwork is also easy to transport, meaning a sleek, professional trade show display can go from the trunk of a car to a wall or easel in moments. Its rigid design resists wear and tear, but its low price tag means that damaged or outdated artwork can be painlessly replaced.

These same advantages apply to foam core projects for the home. Foam core mounted photos are a striking way to showcase family memories and personal creativity. Smartphone cameras allow people to take professional-level family portraits and vacation photos. Why confine those works of art to social media platforms? With foam core mounted photos, murals of the Grand Canyon or the Golden Gate Bridge can be quickly and safely mounted over a bed or a sofa. In the future, new images can be added without breaking the bank.

What are the disadvantages of foam core mounting?

Despite its many virtues, mounting photos on foam core does have a few downsides:

  • Not compatible with all adhesives: certain glues and paints can interact with the foam, causing it to dissolve or melt. Water-based glues can also warp the outer layers of the material as it dries. As a result, dry mounting techniques are recommended.
  • Slightly acidic: the surfaces of some foam boards are slightly acidic, meaning they are not recommended for archival images. Luckily, there are acid-free versions available for use with fine art and images that require framing.
  • Susceptible to water damage: Photos and posters mounted on foam core can be susceptible to moisture damage if exposed to the elements. Therefore, this technique is not the best choice for outdoor displays. Furthermore, foam board mounted photos should not be displayed in damp environments like a bathroom or kitchen.

If foam core won’t work for your next project due to any of the reasons above, you can learn more about other options by reading Sign Materials 101 and Photo Printing Materials 101.

What is the difference between mounting on foam core and printing on foam core?

With foam core mounting, a preprinted image is adhered to a foam board. However, foam core printing bypasses the affixing process and prints the image directly onto a foam board with the use of high-quality printing machines. The advantages of this method include more vibrant images, greater longevity and the ability to cut the artwork into four sections for display. Direct printing also provides a moisture barrier when a photograph is laminated. This prevents warping and allows images to be displayed outdoors, something that is not recommended for images that have been mounted.

foam board mounting
Photo by Marc’s Postcards from Beloit.


How is foam core mounting done?

The professional mounting process begins with a high-quality image print. This print is carefully rolled or laid onto an oversized foam board using a hi-tack, permanent adhesive. Self-adhesive is typically used, but adhesive sprays or dry mount presses may be used with prints of certain sizes. Great care is taken to ensure that the print is perfectly affixed and free from bubbles, wrinkles or other imperfections. After the print is properly mounted, the foam board is precisely trimmed to make sure all the edges are straight and even. If requested, the print is then laminated to protect it from moisture and increase its durability. The artwork is then ready for display.

foam core printing and mounting
A full foam core stage set we created for San Diego’s Old Globe Theater.


Read more about foam core and foam core mounting or get a quote for your next project on our product page.