PMG Pressure-Sensitive Tape and Attachment Removal

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Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog
Pressure-Sensitive Tape and Attachment Removal
Date: Initiated January 2012
Contributors: Stephanie Watkins

The Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog is created and maintained by the Photographic Materials Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works as a convenience for the membership. The treatments, methods, or techniques described herein are provided for informational purposes. The reader assumes responsibility for any application results.

Considerations for Removing Tape and Attachments

For a discussion of general considerations please see:

Book and Paper Conservation Catalog 15.2.1 Conservation/Curatorial Decision-making

Brief Historical Facts of Tapes and Attachment Adhesives

Types of Tapes and Attachments and Identification Characteristics




  • Gums

Helpful Removal Techniques and CAUTIONS!

For general considerations on attachment removal, which can be applied to the paper component of photographs see:
Book and Paper Conservation Catalog Treatment Variations
Some specific considerations for photographic materials:

  • Plastic layers: avoid heat and solvents, which can distort, solublize,and otherwise alter the surface.
  • Gelatin layers: avoid water based methods, consider condition of image layer before applying solvent or heat.
  • Dye based processes: avoid solvents which may cause dye migration and/or color shift.

Post-Treatment Considerations

Organic solvents and heat used to remove and reduce pressure-sensitive tape adhesives can alter the physical and chemical characteristics of image layer and supports of photographic materials. It can be extremely difficult, if not unlikely, to completely remove a pressure-sensitive adhesive, such as rubber components or plasticizers, from organic materials.

External Resources: WEBLINKS (Alphabetical)

For paper-based photographs please also see: Book and Paper Group Paper Conservation Catalog, Chapter 15: Hinge, Tape, and Adhesive Removal[[1]]

Printed Resources: BOOKS, ARTICLES (Alphabetical)

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