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Laminating posters

Hello Grumblers,

I'm have a small picture framing shop in Winthrop Maine....just me working in it. I have some customers who come in to have a poster framed and "want to spend as little as possible". I know, we all hate to hear that but it's a fact of life I guess. Using a metal moulding, dry mounting and some sort of glass usually puts it close to $100. to have it framed. I'm thinking that if I laminated the poster, I could use cheaper mouldings and skip the glass for those customers going the cheap route.

My questions are: Do others offer laminating? Is is cost effective? What is the cost to get into it? How do you set pricing? Other advice you offer.

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SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I offer Lamination, but the truth is that it is more work and no Less expensive.

Sorry folks, welcome to the world of CUSTOM picture framing.

Bill Henry-

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
One of the problems with lamination is that it is difficult to mount (e.g. PMA) onto any kind of substrate. Because it's so smooth, you have to prep the surface first either with a fine sandpaper or (we use) lighter fluid.

Then you cannot use glass 'cause it may create "Newton's Rings" between the lamination surface and the glass.

We try to avoid framing laminated maps and posters whenever we can and severely chide the customer for having it done in the first place … in a very nice way, of course.

Art On Canvas

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
It rarely comes up, but when a client does inquire I tell them that I don't laminate anything. Period. Customers can choose from several types of glass and plexi instead.

Sometimes my wife wants something laminated, so I do have a roll of perforated matte laminate and foam overlays, so I'll do it for her only. I feel that it's too invasive and irreversable on artwork to start doing for customers. Why bother if it costs more than glazing?


Angry Badger
Dry Tac (formerly Hot Press)and Hunt/Seal both make laminating films. They are not money savers vs. regular glass and do require a drymount press to apply. I use them for commercial applications where weight, reflection and safety are issues.
If laminated to standard foam board, the finished product tends to bow outward, so if flatness is an issue the use of a more rigid mount such as Gator Board (also more expensive) might be advisable.
One way to cut costs on poster framing is to buy generic metal moulding in box quantities.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
There is a company in Rochester, NY that does plak laminating and it is a good, less expensive way to do a poster presentation. They can be reached at 585-244-2460. I am sure they will send you samples and a price sheet.

I found doing lamination myself more trouble than it was worth.


PFG, Picture Framing God
I just finished a Nat'l Geographic map of the US that measured 35"x43" for a customer who travels alot. He wanted to put colored push pins in all the cities that he visited so I recommended drymounting onto 3/16" foamcore.

I used an OEM matte black metal frame, Dry Tac pre-perf'ed lamination, and it turned out fine. One of the tricks used in laminating is to tack down the item being drymounted and mount it first. Then lay out the laminate and smooth it along the surface of the item. I found that using a drafting brush to smooth the laminate down helps alot. I start at one end and peel the release paper off of the laminate and square it off on the edge of the item being laminated. Then, as I slowly pull the release paper away, I brush down the laminate onto the poster or whatever and it comes out really flat and wrinkle free. It takes a little practice if you haven't done it before but it speeds up the laminating process dramatically once you get your procedure down pat.

Another good hint is to start the laminating process out at about 160 - 170 degrees and, after you put the item into the press (with laminating foam in place), run your temp. up to about 220 degrees and turn the press on for about 7 to 9 minutes depending on the size of the item being laminated. I have an old Seal 44x66 press and get good laminations without fail using this procedure. You have to work with your own press to come up with the proper temps. and dwell time that is best for that press. Be sure to lay the laminated item flat on the press lid after it is removed and WEIGHT it down until it is cooled. I have a couple of sheets of 1/4" plate glass that was mis-cut at a glass company for this purpose. I have a little bit of warpage but it is minimal if you allow the item to cool completely. If it bows out (towards the surface of the item), that is OK. As the foamboard picks up humidity, it will swell on the back side and generally flatten out. I usually have just the opposite bowing condition as the foamboard is sealed on the poster side and will usually bow towards the back of the foamboard.

Pricing is easy for me as I always sell lamination as a replacement&nbsp for glass for a particular circumstance. I price lamination out around the same price as Premium Clear glass. I would never recommend lamination for anything of value but, for such as this map where the customer is going to use it for utility purposes, I sell it on a regular basis.



SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I do a ton of posters. I have what I call a "poster special" - up to 24" x 36" (max. measure on either dimension, for the materials, etc.)- N58 profile, drymount to foamcore and regular glass - $59.99 out the door. This may go to 64.99 in the new year....

I also do a ton of Plakit (I too, am in Rochester NY) and there are several companies that offer this service, with varying pricing and quality. This process usually is competitive with the poster special BUT you can do Larger pieces with plakit very nicely - maps are a perfect application!!

Good luck.



SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I got tired of stocking laminate film, those sponge rubber thingies that go into the DM press, and all the other laminating junk. So I snd them over to Kinko's and they do a wonderful job.

In turn, Kinko's sends their folks over to me.

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PFG, Picture Framing God
If your looking for an inexpensive way to frame posters, do what Roz does, offer a "Poster Special". If you do your purchasing right, you should be able to show an excellent profit at $59.95. My shop offers them at three prices, anything up to 24"X 30" is $49.95, up 24"X 36" $59.95, up to 30"X 42" $69.95.

If you call Nielsen-Bainbridge or Alumaframe, talk to them about purchasing OEM in some sort of a quantity. Just offer one color to start with, black works best.

Purchase your glass by the pallet. A pallet is approximately 1,600 square feet. It should cost between five and seven hundred dollars, depending on your distributors. Be sure to shop these things, prices can vary a lot. Also quality can vary, ask if the glass comes from Mexico, if it does, try to avoid it if you can.

Check for competitive prices on foam core and dry mounting tissue. United sells one called MD-96, very good quality, very low price.

You should be able to purchase the materials for a 24"X 36" poster for around $12 to 15.00.

After you start advertising and your quantities get up there, start gang mounting these things. Your mount press uses a lot of electricity, so you want to keep it on a minimum amount of time during the work day.

Now that you know how to go about this, I would suggest you do some serious soul searching before you get started. Poster Specials can overwhelm your production and screw up your reputation big time. I learned the hard way on that one. Think about it, do you really want to be known as a " cheap or low priced " framer?

I have been working for years to overcome a reputation I built around "Poster Specials". I have to continue offering them, but I am no longer the least expensive on them. I have cut them down to less than 3% of our sales, from a record of over 70% about ten years ago.



SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
John: many thanks for that post. We do them on occassion, stock some black and contrast gray OEM metal and do them as you instruct.

I find I really hate the work, I get dull saw blades, metal filings all over the place etc etc.

And is that work I want? I don't know. I know gurus in the industry would say the poster special buyer of today is tomorrow's higher end buyer.

I won't throw them out. But neither will I advertise them

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Originally posted by Greg in Maine:
...I have some customers who come in to have a poster framed and "want to spend as little as possible". I know, we all hate to hear that but it's a fact of life I guess... I could use cheaper mouldings and skip the glass for those customers going the cheap route...

There are innumerable ways to cut the price of framing. But as others have pointed out, laminating probably isn't one of them. I fear you're chasing a red herring, anyway.

Don't misunderstand when customers "want to spend as little as possible". That is almost always a statement of ignorance, not a statement of their true wishes. If they really wanted cheap, they wouldn't be in your store. They'd be at a craft store, right?

What they relly want is VALUE -- the most for their dollars spent. Look up "value" in the archives, and you'll find lots of previous, useful commentary.

So, instead of trying to find the cheapest way to frame something (we independents can't win that one, by the way), learn to educate your customers about the myth of "cheaper is better". Tell them why your custom framing is worth more. When they understand, they will buy better.
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