What is Flush Mount?

“Flush mount” is a term that is commonly used to refer to flush mount albums or flush mount books. Historically, “flush mount” is more commonly used to denote “albums” than “books” because flush mount originated as a new form of wedding album. This new flush mount album was different from Perfect Bound Books, Matted Albums and Slip In Albums as a result of its unique features. There is no strict definition for what a flush mount album is, but there are several features that most flush mount albums have historically had.

What features does a flush mount album have?

A flush mount album has historically had these features:

What are cores?

With a flush mount album, photo prints are dry mounted onto an archival board. This board forms the rigid backbone of every page. Sometimes this board is referred to as a “core”, “substrate” or “substrate core”. Photo prints are mounted on each side of the core like a sandwich. Cores are often made from PVC. However, at Zno we use a more modern, environmentally friendly material called PS, which stands for Polystyrene.

Sometimes it’s a challenge to visually identify if a book or an album actually has a core. The easiest way to spot a core is if the core is black, because a black core will contrast with the white border of the photo prints mounted on top of it. Most cores come in white or black.

A book with a white core can be more ambiguous because some photo books feature thicker photo prints without a core. Such books will look like a flush mount albums but are distinctly different. Two photo prints that are mounted back to back, however thick, is not a flush mount album. When a photo book has thicker prints, without a core, it is not as rigid. Thicker prints will add some rigidity but they do not compensate for lacking a core, which is made of an entirely different material. At Zno, we do offer a core-less book called the Slim Photo Book.

This is one reason why layflat books produced by consumer labs that are touted as “premium” or “deluxe”, because of “thicker pages”, are still more flimsy than a real flush mount album. Such books can be called Digital Press Print Layflat Books. While it may be difficult to see the difference between a Digital Press Print Layflat Book and a flush mount album on a website, it’s very easy to feel the difference in person. When you hold a flush mount album, you can test the bendability of a page. A real flush mount album will have little bendability.
comparison of flush mount album and layflat book

What are layflat pages?

Layflat or “lay flat”, refers to albums or books where pages lay “flat” without a gutter bulging between the left page and right page as was the case with Perfect Bound Books. Originally, only flush mount albums featured layflat pages. But nowadays layflat has become a more common feature in albums and books, which may lack the other features of a real flush mount album. A helpful way to understand the “layflat” feature is that all flush mount albums are layflat, but not all layflat albums or books are flush mount albums. This is because a book or album can be layflat, while not having a core or Silver Halide or Giclée printing. Such books can be classified as Digital Press Print Layflat Book.

What is Silver Halide or Giclée printing?

You can read our paper article to have an in depth understanding of what Silver Halide and Giclée printing is. But a short explanation is that Silver Halide and Giclée printing are different from Digital printing. Both Silver Halide and Giclée print better photos than Digital, which is usually inkjet or laser. Silver Halide and Giclée are the preferred printing methods by professional photographers.

Originally flush mount albums all used Silver Halide printing. Today, some flush mount albums use Giclée printing. The vast majority of layflat books offered by consumer labs use Digital printing, hence why they can be classified as Digital Press Print Layflat Books. The form factor of Digital Press Print Layflat Books may look like a flush mount album, but the printing method that is used is entirely different. The reality is that layflat books, which use Digital printing, offer no better printing quality than perfect bound books, which are sometimes called “press printed books”, or “coffee table books”.

There are even quite a few professional labs that have started offering Digital Press Print Layflat Books under the name of “press printed layflat books”. In many cases, such books will even have luxurious linen or leather covers, but nevertheless will be printed digitally with inferior inkjet or laser printers.

What is flush mounting?

In the consumer world, we use the term “pages”, but in the professional lab world, the term “sides” is sometimes used instead. A “spread” is two “sides”, or the “left page” and “right page”. The center that’s located between the two “sides” (or pages) is called the “gutter”.
explanation of term for page and side and spread
If something had “flush mounting”, this classically meant two things:
  • A single print is mounted across the gutter
  • A single print extends to all edges of a spread and is “flush” with the cores of each side
graphic showing flush mounting
This style of photo mounting results in a seamless spread. This allows for doing one design that stretches across two sides. With this approach, designs no longer needed to be split, as was the case with Perfect Bound Books, Matted Albums, Slip In Albums.
Perfect Bound Books typically limited designs to one side in their software as a safety feature. This was done because while you could hypothetically print in the gutter, your image would effectively be lost due to the gutter bulging.
Matted Albums and Slip In Albums are also limited to designs on side, but for different reasons than Perfect Bound Books.
Digital Press Print Layflat Books are not technically flush mount albums, but they allow for printing across a gutter and to the edge of a spread.
Some professional labs also offer a “micro cut” on the gutter of flush mount albums as an alternative to a crease. This is a departure from the classical flush mount album, but this method still uses a single print.

What are the alternatives to Flush Mount Albums?

The common alternatives to flush mount albums are:

What are Digital Press Print Layflat Books?

Digital Press Print Layflat Books are books that have layflat pages and use digital printing. These books typically do not have a core and they never use Silver Halide or Giclée printing. For all of these reasons Digital Press Print Layflat Books are not flush mount albums. But at first glance, they may have the “appearance” of a real flush mount album. Some professional labs will even offer Digital Press Print Layflat Books, which they call “Press Printed Layflat Books”.

At Zno, we do not offer any Digital Press Print Layflat Books. One reason for us not offering Digital Press Print Layflat Books is that our Slim Photo Book, which does use Silver Halide printing, is priced lower than most of the Digital Press Print Layflat Books by most professional labs. In other words, at Zno you get a Silver Halide Layflat Book at the price of a Digital Press Print Layflat Book from other labs. Our Slim Photo Book does not have a core and therefore, we don’t consider it a flush mount album. However, our Slim Photo Book is layflat and does use Silver Halide printing, so it’s a great low cost alternative to a flush mount album.

What are Perfect Bound Books?

Perfect Bound Books are sometimes also called “coffee table books” or “press printed books”. These books are digitally printed and have a bulge in the gutter. These books do not have a core, are not layflat, do not use Silver Halide or Giclée and do not have flush mounting. Zno does offer one Perfect Bound Book, which we call our Press Photo Book.

What are Matted Albums?

Matted Albums have similarities to a flush mount album, but are different. Matted Albums typically can be viewed as a collection of Matted Prints. Each side of a Matted Album will have matting with apertures for photos. Matted Albums usually will have a core to reinforce every page, are layflat, and will use Silver Halide or Giclée prints. But a key difference between a Matted Album and a flush mount album, is that the photo apertures on a Matted Album cannot extend across a gutter, as is the case with flush mounting. Since prints are framed inside a mat, this also means that a print will never be flush with the edge of a spread.

What are Slip In Albums?

Slip In Albums are an older style album that is typically DIY. This type of album consists of blank pages on which photo prints can be glued directly to paper or slipped into a plastic sleeve.

What Flush Mount products does Zno offer?

At Zno, we offer a number of products with flush mount features:

Flush Mount Album

Our Flush mount albums has the classical features of a flush mount album. These include a rigid core, layflat pages, Silver Halide printing and flush mounting. We differentiate our Flush Mount Album from our other albums and books by the core thickness and cover options.

Fine Art Album

Our Fine Art Album has the classical features of a flush mount album. These include a rigid core, layflat pages and flush mounting. The only difference between our Fine Art Album and our Flush Mount Album are the photo papers. Our Fine Art Album uses Giclée printing instead of Silver Halide printing.

Layflat Photo Book

Our Layflat Photo Book has the classical features of a flush mount album. These include a rigid core, layflat pages, Silver Halide printing and flush mounting. However, the core is much thinner than our Flush Mount Album or Fine Art Album. We limit the cover, size and other options of our Layflat Photo Book.

Little Black Book

Our Little Black Book also technically has the features of a flush mount album. It has a core, layflat pages, Silver Halide printing and flush mounting. However, the core is much thinner than our Flush Mount Album or Fine Art Album. We limit the cover, size and other options of our Little Black Book.

Flush Mount Print

Our Flush Mount Print is not an album or book but it technically has some features of a flush mount album. It has a core, Silver Halide or Giclée printing and flush mounting.

Flush Mount Card

Our Flush Mount Card is not an album or book but it technically has some features of a flush mount album. It has a core, Silver Halide printing and flush mounting.

Little Moments Calendar

Our Little Moments Calendar is not an album or book but it technically has some features of a flush mount album. It has a core, Silver Halide printing and flush mounting.

Little Prints Stand

Our Little Prints Stand is not an album or book but it technically has some features of a flush mount album. It has a core, Silver Halide printing and flush mounting.