How to Care for Your Wall Art to Make it Last a Lifetime

Mother and daughter hanging art on the wall

Last updated January 10, 2023 by Foundmyself

Whether your walls are chock-full of stunning artwork already or you’ve just purchased your first piece, there are a number of simple, important things to do to ensure it lasts as long as possible. Let’s delve into our top tips.

1: Choose acid-free paper and ink (if possible)

If you’re shopping for art prints and haven’t purchased the artwork yet, seek out a printer that has archival, acid-free paper and ink. Why? Because any acid in the source materials can yellow and even weaken the underlying canvas surface over time. An acid-free print, on the other hand, can last much longer.

If you’re shopping for original works, contact the artist before purchasing to learn more about the materials they used. While a canvas containing acid shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker, it’s definitely worth keeping in mind, especially when spending your hard-earned dough.

2: Mount it properly

Even if you don’t have curious toddlers or rambunctious pets, hanging your wall art securely is important.

Wall anchors come in different flavors, like toggles, picture hangers, and plastic anchors. Toggles and hangers made specifically for large pieces of art are the strongest and best used with heavy works.

Picture hangers are generally a safe bet if you adhere to the weight limits listed on the packaging and nail it into your wall properly, ideally into a stud for larger pieces.

Plastic anchors — usually designed to not damage walls — would only be a good option for very lightweight pieces, and are probably not your best option.

3: Avoid direct sunlight

Your art isn’t a vampire — a well-lit room is fine. Direct sunlight pounding on the piece day after day, though? That will lead to bleached colors and possible warping from heat, as well.

So, make sure you find a spot that doesn’t get direct sunlight for any extended period. If you have a valuable piece that you want to go the extra mile to protect, you could invest in UV-filtering glass, as well. It’s coated with materials that block much of that invisible, ultra-violet radiation, but still allow most visible light to pass through.

That said, even regular glass from a nearby window can cut UV rays by more than half. Just make sure the window’s shut!

4: Maintain temperature and humidity

While not always possible, do your best to avoid placing your wall art in an excessively humid or dry environment, or in a space that changes temperature or humidity frequently. This can lead to cracking, warping, mildewing, and other awful enemies of preservation.

Thankfully, a comfortable human environment makes for a pleasant space for your art. In general, between 68°-76° degrees Fahrenheit (20°-24.5° degrees Celsius) is perfect, with a relative humidity of around 40-55%.

5: Keep it clean

Too much dust accumulated on your art could discolor it over time, so use a soft, dry microfiber cloth to wipe away dust bunnies. Be gentle!

6: Store it properly

If your art’s coming down from your walls and heading to mid-to-long-term storage, you’ll want to consider a few additional things. First, as with hanging art, avoid rapid shifts in humidity or temperature, find a spot that’s out of the sun (ideally pitch black), and use acid-free packing materials.

For example, you can stack flat artwork on top of other pieces horizontally, but use a thick piece of acid-free paper as a barrier between the art. Find a board that’s at least a few inches larger on both the width and height to make sure any small shifts in position of the artwork doesn’t result in the pieces touching each other directly.

If you have an area that’s climate stable, dark, and gets little to no foot traffic, your art can be stored for ages, ready and waiting for its next big reveal.

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