Feeling Crafty? How to Safely Store Paintings


Paintings are delicate and beautiful creations that express how the painter viewed the world. For this reason, they are unique and priceless. The paintings in your collection deserve your every protection while they’re being displayed and while they’re stored away from sight. Special steps, such as the ones listed below, must be taken to preserve the integrity and beauty of your paintings while in storage.

Avoid Moist Areas 
The canvas on which most paintings are created is generally made from cotton or linen. To help the paint adhere to these materials, a certain primer was used on the canvas. This primer is actually very reactive to moisture. This is a common issue with oil paintings. Moisture can cause this primer to expand and contract, essentially tugging and squeezing the dried oil paints. This causes the painting to crack. Additionally, the wooden frame of the painting will warp and swell due to moisture, ruining its structure. When you decide to store your paintings, do not choose a room prone to moisture, like a basement or an attic. The room you store your paintings in must benefit from humidity control, whether in a self storage unit with atmosphere control features or in a specially-designated craft room.

Do Not Store Near Windows
Sunlight is another enemy of your paintings. Direct sunlight or direct light from a bulb can cause the color in the paints to fade over time. It is best to store your paintings in a dark place away from light sources. It is actually recommended that you store paintings in a room that’s completely void of windows. If this isn’t an option for you, opt for getting a specialized container to hold your paintings and block out all light access.

Keep It Off the Floor
Regardless of where you store your paintings, they should not be placed on the floor. When paintings are left on the floor, they are vulnerable to damages from pests, pets, and footsteps. In general, you should never place anything delicate on the floor where it could be trampled, and basement floors can collect moisture. Opt for keeping it upright in a holder or carefully separated on its own shelf or holding slot.

Temperature Control is Key 
Extreme temperatures are dangerous and can destroy your paintings. Extreme cold can cause the paint to become brittle and crack, leading to flaking. This is especially true of watercolor paintings, which are easily influenced by the temperature of any moisture or aqueous substance near it. Extreme heat can damage the canvas and frame of the painting, also causing the paint to crack and peel. Pastels, though a powdered pigment, are also affected by extreme temperatures, and the more wax-based styles can melt and run. The ideal temperature at which to store paintings is around 70°F (21°C), which is generally accepted as room temperature.

Safely storing your art collection requires meticulous attention to detail, but it is well worth the effort. A quality painting takes a great deal of time and effort to make, and having all wasted by improper storage is devastating for any art enthusiast. Although these steps seem high-maintenance initially, they’re easily achievable by choosing the right room and container.

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