Floating Mounting vs. Floater Frames: What is the Difference?

Floating Mounting vs. Floater Frames_ What is the Difference_

Artworks are pieces that can enhance the appearance of the space in which they are placed. Generally, they give the décor a special aura that can be difficult for everyday people to interpret. Framing an artwork is one of the ways of enhancing and preserving it.

Talking about getting the proper frame for a work of art, you need to have an understanding of what terms such as molding, hinging, points, and rabbets mean. Aside from these terms, two other terms are often wrongly used interchangeably. These two terms are floater frames and float mounting. They are entirely different, but people wrongly use them interchangeably as most people erroneously assume that these two terms are the same.

“Float”, a word that both terms share, is where the confusion stems from. This word in both terms is used in the description of the effect that they produce. One is a special type of frame meant for canvas artwork (the art seems to be floating inside the frame), while the other is a form of mounting technique.

An Overview of Float Mounting

An Overview of Float Mounting

Float mounting refers to a specific type of mounting technique; it is not a type of frame! There is a standard technique of mounting artwork. This method uses an uncut mat board or mount board with no window. The artwork is attached with dry mounting, spray adhesive, tissue, or hinging tape to the mount board or uncut mat board. Although strips and photo corners may be used, they will still be visible. Mounting artworks using permanent adhesives are not archival, and so it should be used only with prints and items that are replaceable.

When using the standard method of mounting, the mat board is placed over the print. To help reveal the opening in the center, the size of the mat board should be smaller when compared with the artwork. This will ensure that a portion of the artwork’s edges is covered. However, it is not desirable to cover the edge for some artwork. The edges should not be covered for artworks such as a deckled watercolor or worn-down document that has got an important signature or unique edges in the corner.

In float mounting the piece, the entire artwork is displayed. This implies that there will be no covering on any parts of the prints; it is either the artwork is larger than the mat board that has been cut, or there is no mat at all. Depending on the look you desire, a range of ¼ inches to several inches should be the space of the float around the artwork.

Also, you can use a variety of hues to draw attention to the artwork. Do this rather than having a cream or white, black, or any other standard color for mount boards. Having the hues complement the artwork and its striking edges adds more interest to the piece. Float mounting goes well with pastel artwork, charcoal art work, watercolors, documents, prints, and photos.

An Overview of Floater Frames

An Overview of Floater Frames

Unlike float mounting, which is a type of mounting technique, a floater frame or floating frame is a style of the picture frame. It is meant for stretched canvas artwork and is available in both metal and wood. When you use floater frames, the edges of the artwork do not touch the inside edges of the frame. This makes it look like the art is floating within it.

Offset clips are used to attach the canvas to the back of the frame. These clips are fastened into the stretcher frame. It is easy to assemble and hang floater frames, just like it is with standard wood and metal frames.

Difference between Float Mounting and Floater Frames

Although float mounting and floater frames sound similar, they are two entirely different things. The floater frame is a product, while float mounting is a technique of framing. Also, they are not used for the same type of work of art. Float mounting is used generally for documents, prints, charcoal, and pastel artwork, and photographs. Floater frames, on the other hand, are designed specifically for usage with stretched canvases. Prints can’t be attached to floater frames, and canvases can’t be matted or mounted.


Float mounting and floater frames are two different terms that are often wrongly used interchangeably. These two terms are not the same. Float mounting is a mounting technique, while floater frames are a distinct type of frame. The differences between both terms can also be seen in their application. Float mounting is used for documents, prints, photographs, etc; while floater frames are used specifically with stretched canvases.

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