Care of Picture Frames

Why Frame Art?

Purpose – use appropriate materials to help prolong the life of the artwork by securing it in a physically and chemically stable package and enhance the appearance.

Much focus is made on the components of the frame:

  • High-quality materials such as ultraviolet filter glass or acrylic.
  • Your artwork must not be in contact with the glazing (glass or acrylic)
  • 100 percent cotton or lignin-free and buffered mat boards, are standard components of a preservation-framing package. Matboard that is used to support the artwork as a backing and for window mats should be 4-ply or thicker

If your framed art does not meet these basic requirements, it may not remain in its original condition for long

However, YOU have a vital role to play in protecting your artwork

Art on paper or canvas is fragile. Paints, stains and pigments, as well as the paper and canvas, are all vulnerable to environmental conditions within our homes and offices. Too much or too little heat in a room, high humidity, poor air circulation, sunlight, and artificial light can cause irreparable damage to paintings, drawings, and prints.

Temperature and relative humidity must be controlled. A stable environment must be maintained in order to reduce the possibility of mould and mildew forming in the package. Although art cannot be enjoyed without light, it is important to be aware that light can cause permanent damage to prints, drawings and even paintings. Heat and light accelerate fading and discoloration of paper.

Avoid hanging your framed artwork on outside walls, above fireplaces or radiators, or near air conditioning ducts. Bathrooms, kitchens and finished basements are also places to avoid.

Check your artwork at least annually (maybe with your smoke alarms) –  ensure that:

  • the hanging components both on the art and on the wall are still secure
  • make sure that the tape has not lifted from the back of works behind glass
  • check there is no sign of mould under the glass > once its there it is very difficult and expensive to remove
  • check that the cut edge of any matboard has not gone yellow – it may not be acid-free and should be replaced ASAP

Carrying Your Artwork 

Paintings and framed works should be carried in their correct vertical orientation whenever possible as debris at the bottom of the work can become dislodged.

Framed works on paper are in most cases “hinged” from the top to the back of the frame. Placing the work on its side will put stress on the hinges and the paper may come away from the mount. Framed works on paper should be stored in accordance with the orientation of the image.







Carry works with two hands

Carry small to medium works with one hand underneath supporting the weight and one hand on the side to steady it. Be careful not to place fingers between the canvas and the stretcher or strainer members when handling paintings, as this may cause distortions in the canvas and/or paint cracking and loss. Cupping your hand around the edges of a painting or frame with the heel of your hand will ensure that such damages will not occur and your fingers will not rest on the paint surface or frame.

Two people are needed to carry large items, one positioned on each side of the work. To carry large objects correctly, each person should place both hands on the side of the item. As above, when handling an unframed painting be careful not to place fingers between the canvas and the stretcher or strainer members as this may cause damage to the item. If there are handling straps attached to the back of the painting, use them rather than handling the actual object.

Had an Accident?

Carefully remove any broken glass before taking to the framer, otherwise you may find that as the sharp glass moves over the surface of the artwork it may get cut.