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How To Protect Art Prints
Whether you are an artist storing prints to sell at local art shows or an art collector showcasing your favorite limited edition prints in your home, learning how to store art prints and care for your art prints will keep them looking like new for many years.
There are many risks involved in caring for your art. However, if you know what to do and what causes the deterioration of fine art you can save your investment and keep the prints looking like they just came off the printer.
- How To Protect Art Prints
- What Can Damage Art Prints
- How To Protect Your Art Prints
- How To Protect your prints from the dangers of light
- How To Display Art Prints On Walls And Protect Them From Light
- How To Protect Your Prints From Heat
- How To Protect Prints From Humidity
- How To Protect Your Art From Pollutants
- How To Store Art Prints
- How To Transport Art Prints
- Final Thoughts On How To Start Art Prints
What Can Damage Art Prints
Most fine art prints are printed on archival acid-free paper with archival ink.
Acid-free paper means that the pulp used to make the paper has a pH above 7 (neutral) and buffed with an alkaline reserve.
Archival grade paper is often made from cotton pulp, not wood-based pulp.
Archival ink is specifically designed to be resistant to weathering and fading to last for a long time. (Source: SNCO)
Archival paper and ink are often used for “Museum Quality” prints and are meant to last years without fading. Museum-quality prints can also be referred to as giclee prints.
Even though prints might be printed on archival paper with archival inks, the handling of the product will impact the longevity of the print.
How To Protect Your Art Prints
Let’s go over what can damage the quality of your prints.
Sunlight and artificial lights from bulbs are the main reasons original art and prints fade over time.
How To Protect your prints from the dangers of light
Never hang or place your art in direct sunlight. It will not take long for the ultraviolet light to completely fade the vibrant colors of prints.
Artificial light and fluorescent lighten will also lower the longevity of your art.
How To Display Art Prints On Walls And Protect Them From Light
Hang your wall art on walls that sunlight does not directly hit and do not place lamps close to the art. A 40-watt bulb should not be closer than 20 inches from the print.
For extra protection, frame your art in a UV glass face frame for extra protection from light.
People who reside in cold climates heat their homes with either heat stoves or radiators. The heat reduces the rooms’ humidity, which will dry out the paper and make the paper brittle. Fluctuating the temperatures will also damage the paper by expanding and contracting it, which will make the paper warp.
How To Protect Your Prints From Heat
Keep prints away from radiators or heating stoves. Hang the art on the furthest wall from the heating source.
Use a humidifier to keep the humidity from dropping less than 40 percent.
The Honeywell Cool Moisture Germ-Free Humidifier HCM-350 is an affordable humidify that kills up to 99.9% of bacteria, mold, and virus in the water and has three-speed settings to adjust the moisture in the room.
Too much humidity can ruin a print as fast as having humidity that is too low.
High humidity will cause foxing (brown spots on the print) and mold.
How To Protect Prints From Humidity
Keep all prints out of rooms with high humidity like basements.
Do not wrap prints that can hold in moisture like saran-wrap, plastic, and bubble wrap.
If the room you are showcasing your art has high humidity, investing in a dehumidifier like the Arctic King 50 Pint Energy Star Dehumidifier will reduce the moisture in the room, protecting you hanging art from mold and foxing.
Pollution is another reason your prints will deteriorate. Acids, dirt, dust, and oils from your hand are natural pollutants that will ruin the art paper.
How To Protect Your Art From Pollutants
Do not have the print touch the glass of the frame.
Use 100% cotton rag core and backing paper matboard. Keep away from mats that say they are acid-free and use wood materials to make the mat. Over time the heat will cause the wood particles to release acid and the acids will turn the paper yellow.
Use 100% Cotton mats like Crescent RagMat Matboard. These mats are created to protect your prints from acids.
Use Lineco Self-Adhesive Linen Hinging Tape to mount your art or photographs. It’s coated with a neutral pH acrylic to prevent yellowing.
Wash your hands before handling the print and avoid touching the printed area.
How To Store Art Prints
There will be times when you will want to store your investment to protect it from light, humidity, and pollution.
The best way to store your prints is by taking them out of the frames and lay them flat in folders, cabinets, or collector boxes.
Metal storage cabinets like the Bieffe 10 Drawer Filing Cabinet is the best. Metal does not release chemical emissions like wood.
Store prints flat and separate each print with glassine paper.
The storage space should be in a controlled temperature room with a humidity level between 40% and 70%.
Keep your art collection in an acid-free container, preferably metal.
Art storage cabinets can become expensive so take a look around for a metal storage unit that will fit your art print sizes.
How To Transport Art Prints
There might be a time when you have to transport your art, whether attending an art show or attending an open gallery.
There are some precautions you will want to take when transporting your prints.
Keep your prints framed if you are going to display them with a frame.
If you present them with a mat and no frame, place the matted prints in a storage tray separated with glassine paper.
If you will present them with no mat or frame, place them in a portfolio to transport them.
- Alvin Elegance Portfolios
- Martin Universal Design Museum Artist Portfolios
- Prat Digital and Art Portfolio
Final Thoughts On How To Start Art Prints
Collecting art is an investment hand you will want to protect your artwork so it will not lose value.
Artists need a storage facility for storing art that has not sold.
Follow all of the steps above to keep your artwork like new for years to come.