For those who have tried making V-Flats before, you may be familiar with the challenges it presents. It’s not just about taping the edges or joining the boards together; the difficulty lies in adding the black coloured sticky-back plastic to the white side of the Foam Board. One alternative is to paint one of the white sides with black paint, a method I have previously attempted. However, this approach may lead to the board warping during the drying process. (I wouldn’t recommend this process!).

V-Flats are oversized foam core boards joined together using a specific method with tape, designed to help photographers manage lighting and divide sections within their studios.

This is how I made V-Flats for my studio:

I used the following materials:

  • 4 x 10mm Foam Centre Board 1220mm x 2440mm. From Wessex Pictures  (this will make 2 complete V-Flats)
  • 1 x Black Matt Self Adhesive Vinyl Roll 1220mm x 5meter. From Ebay
  • 1 x 2” Roll Black Gaffer Tape (48mm x 50m)
  • 1 x 3” Roll Black Gaffer Tape (75mm x 50m)
  • 1 x 3” Roll White Gaffer Tape (75mm x 50m or shorter as you will only use a little amount)
  • Photo Mount Spray
  • Stanley Knife
  • Sponge
  • Masking Tape
  • Pen/pencil
  • Clamps
  • Cardboard
  • Lot’s of tea and a splash of patience!

Below is my step-by-step guide to applying the black sticky-back plastic without too much stress.

Top tip: Enlist the assistance of a helper, ideally a friend or partner, as there may be some disagreements during the process. 🤬🤭

Step one: Lay one piece of your foam board down onto a sheet of cardboard on the floor, then measure the length of sticky-back plastic required and cut to size, allowing approx. 2” overlap each end. 

Step two: Mark the SBP where it meets the edge of the foam board to allow for repositioning after the next step (see image below): 

Mark sticky-back plastic with masking tape

Step three: Peel back a generous portion of the plastic and apply photo mount spray. This will allow for easier positioning of the plastic when aligning it. Note: if the photo mount is not used, the plastic adhesive is extremely sticky making it impossible to peel off once it adheres to the board.

Peel back and spray with Photo Mount

Step four: Once you have aligned the plastic successfully, slowly work your way down the board ensuring no creases form in the plastic, and smooth out any bubbles. Minor bubbles can be addressed at the end. (see video below). It is important to note that V-flats serve a functional purpose in your studio and do not need to be flawless; in fact, they are expected to show signs of wear and tear over time.

Step five: Trim off any excess plastic and put aside while you tackle the next board.

Step six: Once all your boards are completed with one white side and one black side, you are ready to assemble them.

Felix Kunze (portrait photographer) has a great step-by-step video on how to tape the edges of your boards and how to tape them together to create your completed V-Flats. I did exactly as Felix instructed and it was really easy to follow.

Follow Felix’s step-by-step guide here.

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