How to Store Paintings, Protect Them from the Elements

man sitting by wall of paintings

If you want your art to last through the years, you need to learn how to store paintings. Whether the art is on canvas or framed, there are tried-and-true methods that will keep them safe in storage. However, it takes a bit of preparation on your part to make it work.

How to Store Paintings Properly

Some people may think that they can place artwork in the attic, basement, or storage unit with minimal protection, and the art will be just fine. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

Paintings are delicate and require careful storage to keep them in the best shape possible. Honestly, the best way to store paintings is by hanging them. Art is meant to be hung, and you get to enjoy its beauty.

However, some situations require you to pack up your art and store them for a period of time. Learning how to store paintings means that you’ll need to carefully consider the location, prepping each piece, and how to position it.

Location matters

When choosing the best room to store art, choose an area that’s completely finished. Attics and basements with concrete walls and floors are unacceptable unless they’re finished and have climate control.

That's because art can absorb the moisture from the concrete, which will then damage the paint.

It’s also important to choose a room that doesn’t have an exterior wall. This keeps your art away from windows and sunlight that can also cause damage.

Climate control is necessary because changes in humidity and temperature can cause the canvas to slacken or tighten. In turn, these changes lead to cracks and chips in the paint. High humidity can also promote mold growth, which will also ruin the paint.

Ideally, your art storage room will have consistent humidity between 40 and 50 percent and temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

It should also be an area with minimal traffic, so no one will be bumping into any of the pieces.

Prepping each piece of art

The first step in preparing your art for storage is to clean it. A clean, microfiber cloth will remove dust from all the surfaces.

If a piece has a wood or metal frame, or you have metal wall art, using the right polish will prevent scuffs and rust. Polish can also prevent dust from settling on the art itself.

If you have valuable art or original works that you don’t trust yourself to clean, you can also pay someone to clean it professionally.

Next, you’ll need to wrap each individual piece. If you’re only storing them short-term, you can simply wrap them in plastic wrap. It's a safe way to keep dust and other debris out before you add additional padding.

However, plastic wrap can also trap humidity and cause damage to paintings over time. If you still want to use plastic wrap, check on your paintings every few months to ensure there isn’t any damage.

You can use fabric for padding, and many use crescent board to separate pieces. Whatever you decide to use, just make sure it’s acid-free.

Ideal positioning

Once you have the right location and you’ve prepped the art, you’re ready to store them. The most important part to remember is that you shouldn’t lay art pieces on top of each other. This puts too much pressure on them.

It’s also crucial to keep artwork off the floor to protect them from potential flooding and critters. You can use a storage rack, shelving, or anything else that elevates them. As you place them on each shelf, store them like books, side by side.

If your storage room has a window, make sure your art is away from direct sunlight, as it can fade the paint. The storage rack should also not be close to vents or fireplaces because it can cause changes in temperature and humidity.

If you can, you can also hang up your art if you have room in the storage area. As previously stated, art is meant to be hung.

Keep Valuable Art Safe by Learning How to Store Paintings

Art adds more variety and personality to a home, and some people enjoy collecting pieces from their favorite artists. However, some circumstances require us to place the art in storage for a time.

By learning how to store paintings, you can ensure that your favorite works of art will stand the test of time. That requires picking an ideal location, preparing the piece for storage, and positioning the piece properly.

Do you have any other tips for storing paintings? Let us know in the comments section.

Featured Image Provided by Unsplash


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