View Full Version : Help - Trouble With Backing Board

11-04-2010, 01:15 AM
I use foamcore as my backing board while painting as it is much lighter than hardboard etc. I'm having a problem with all the tapes I've tried to hold down my art spectrum paper on the board. The heavier masking tapes are too strong, they lift the surface of the foamcore when you remove it and the lighter decorator tapes just start lifting straight away!
Is there anything I can cover or paint the foamcore with to make the lighter tape stick better or can anyone recommend a different type of tape?

11-04-2010, 02:21 AM
Try sticking the stronger tape to a piece of your clothing before using it to make it less sticky. I do this all the time when using more fragile surfaces (I'm typically worried about the support not the backing board - but the result should be the same).

Phil Bates
11-04-2010, 02:51 AM
Hi Julie,

Gaterboard is just as light as foamcore but stronger with a harder surface. It will take repeated tapings without peeling. It will also last you longer than foamcore with less tendency to warp or bend.


11-04-2010, 06:43 AM
Bulldog clamps? I use them, works fine. I have three pieces of foamcore, for the three sizes I work in.

the drover's dog
11-04-2010, 09:38 AM
I had the same problem and after hunting in vain for gatorboard which is not easily available here in Oz, I gave my foamcore a couple of coats of acrylic sealer (used Jo Sonja's) and together with dabbing "magic tape" on my jean clad thigh before sticking it on the edges of the Colourart paper and the foamcore, I solved the problem of the peeling foamcore. I actually use about 6 layers of brown paper under my Colourart paper, so just stuck this down permanently to the foamcore and gave it two coats of sealer also. Works perfectly. It gives the foamcore and the brown paper a flexible plastic skin. If I'm painting on small A4 sized sheets I just use bulldog clips.

Problem solved.


Kathryn Wilson
11-04-2010, 09:49 AM
You seem to have solved the problem, but here is another solution. Painter's tape - you know, the kind they put around molding, windows, doors to exclude the paint from the surface.

Unfortunately, I've not been able to find this here in anything other than blue and some say this throws off the color - I don't think I've had that problem, but one never knows.

I've also used "artist tape" (which is white), but it will not stick to the support surface. It works, but not very well.

11-04-2010, 10:29 AM
I have the opposite problem. The blue painters tape damages the white edges of the Art Spectrum paper. Maybe it's my heavy hand. I need to remember to try the trick Timion suggested. I know it;just forget to do it. The masonite type boards, sold by Blick, is what I use to tape my paper to.

11-04-2010, 10:59 AM
I agree with Phil. I switched to Gatorboard some time ago for just this reason.

11-04-2010, 11:10 AM
I also use the 1/2" foam core board as my support. I used a sheet of very heavy duty, I'm tempted to say vellum, but it's more like plastic. I did some cartography years ago. I used to buy this to draw my maps on as it really held up to an electric erasure taking India ink off. It was about 6.25 per 24X36 sheet. I think the last I bought was in 2004. Shoot, I just can't remember what they call that stuff. Anyway, I have that taped down and covering my foam core. Even drafting tape was tearing up my foam core before I started covering it.
My foam core board is pretty big 24" X 32". I also ran some tape vertically and horizontally, to use as guidelines so I can tape down my supports straight.
Do you have a store that caters to draftsman? There's so much CAD now, it's hard to find these things people needed when everything was done by hand and not on computer.
How about some strong clear plastic people use to seal their windows in winter?

11-04-2010, 11:28 AM
Hi: I use foamboard also, but, I first take a large sheet of drawing paper and tape that to the board with the GREEN painter's tape (Frog?). Then I tape the pastel paper on the top of the drawing paper. This way, I can test my colors while painting right on the drawing paper. When I remove the tape and the drawing paper rips....no worries.
You did'nt say whether you use the foam core in your framing?
Good Luck. derek

11-04-2010, 02:24 PM
A note on the blue painter's tape - it will definitely throw off your colors. It will influence what you choose to pick up because it is so bright and so intense. At every workshop I attend the instructors ban the blue tape - the latest two being Richard McKinley and Sally Strand. I use either some clips or white tape for holding my work. Neutral surfaces and tape are essential!!


Kathryn Wilson
11-04-2010, 03:21 PM
Lynn - I've gotten that same comments, so found black tape - goes great with my black paper!

So what do Richard and Sally recommend? You didn't say.

Phil Bates
11-04-2010, 07:39 PM
Lynn - I've gotten that same comments, so found black tape - goes great with my black paper!

So what do Richard and Sally recommend? You didn't say.

Richard uses drafting tape (light beige, like masking tape) until he gets to the end of the painting, then he covers the edges with black masking tape, to help show it "finished". It's amazing how this step can reveal that you are further along with the painting than you think you are.


11-05-2010, 06:27 PM
Kathryn - yes, Phil is correct about Richard. Sally uses a light beige tape as well. She paints alot on 140 lb. stretched watecolor paper, using a watercolor underpainting. So she staples her paper onto a board that has newspaper on it and then covers the staples with the tape.


11-06-2010, 02:02 PM
:wave: Hello! I had the same problem when using foamcor for a plein-air backing board, and taping on the papers I would use out plein-air, then pulling it all apart when I tried to untape. There is a great solution to this: and its simple. Just cover your backing board with clear contact paper, both sides!! Tape comes of easy, and it makes the board stronger, too. Works great, I use a 9 x 12 size, fits in my backpack really well. Good luck! Oh , to my mind the blue painters tape, while less tacky, causes you to compare colors against the blue tape----you are not even aware of this happening, so I would never put that around my work.

11-06-2010, 03:45 PM
My suggestion is exactly the same as IMaybe; clear contact paper. My students use this on their foam board, and some of them have been in my classes for years. As for tape, well most use white artists tape as it blends right in to the white background of the foam board.

As for myself, well I use a backing board method I learned from Alan Flattmann. I glue "close cell foam" to a masonite board. My original source for the foam was some old Boy Scout ground mats my husband and sons used back in the day. They are blue, but the color didn't influence my color choices, but was a bit disconcerting to use so I now have some that are neutral gray. It isn't as light weight as foam board, but it is much more sturdy. I have arthritis in my forefinger, and the extra bit of cushioning from the foam helps a lot to keep that finger from hurting. You can find it in most foam supply stores. It is neutral gray in color and about 3/8 inch thick. I have several different sized boards, and the smallest of them, 11x14, is light weight enough that I take that to class. It is also a good size for plein air work.

I just Googled close cell foam, and came up with a source for those of you who don't have a foam store in your area. After reading about the various types, I figured out the one you want is what they describe as "gymnastic foam". It comes in several thickness including 3/8" and 1/2", and three different sizes. A full sheet of 96" x 48" 3/8" thick foam is $26.29 plus shipping of course. You can get a lot of different sized boards out of that. If it is more than you want, a 48 x 48 or 96 x 24 is only $14.99. Here's the web address of The Foam Factory located in Michigan.


11-11-2010, 07:14 AM
Hello, I've haven't been online for a while, our 2yr old bull mastif puppy died recently. It has been a real shock because he got sick really quickly and nothing that the vet tried could save him.
As usual everyone has given me great advice, I've decided to use a hardboard backing board in the studio (no problems with tape) and just use smaller foamcore boards for workshops and plein air where I can use bulldog clips. THANKS AGAIN EVERYONE!