Caring for your artwork at home
Ideally pictures should not be hung above radiators. Extreme or rapid changes in temperature cause paper, canvas and wood to dry out and adhesives to fail.
Damp can cause pictures on paper to ripple. If the ripples touch the glass, the picture might stick and be hard to remove. Damp also encourages fungal growth, likely to show as brown stains. Conservation framing can slow these effects, but it is always best to avoid hanging framed pictures in humid conditions. Allow six months before hanging pictures on newly plastered walls.
Remember most pictures are designed to be viewed at eye-level. When hanging a group of pictures of different sizes align the top edges, or have a hanging theme for clusters. Groups of pictures need not be hung in symmetrical patterns, but they should follow some sort of overall design. Try arranging them on the floor first.
Use two hooks on the wall, each set about a quarter of the way in from either side of the picture. Check that the cord, wire or other hanger you use is designed to support the weight of your artwork. Where safety is critical, in children’s bedrooms, for example, ensure security fittings and glazing. Rail and other hanging systems can be used when pictures are to be rotated regularly.
A gentle clean
Dust frames or treat with a soft brush, rather than risk applying water or cleaning fluids. Do nott use cleaning fluids or water on the varnished surface of oil paintings; again dust carefully. If cleaning fluids have to be used on the glass, apply them to a duster first (rather than spraying the glass directly); take care not to let the fluids touch the frame, or bleed into mounts.
If you find any evidence of discolouration, unsightly brown dots, small insects under the glass or that the brown paper tape sealing the back of the frame has come unstuck, return the frame to the framer. Check for corroding picture wire or weak or loosening cord. The varnish on oil paintings will gradually discolour, especially if the picture hangs in smoky or polluted conditions. It should be replaced as it dirties. Oil paintings stretched over wooden bars may sag over time and the bars can make a slight imprint on the front of the canvas. Take the picture back to your framer for tightening or re-stretching. We would recommend inspection every five years.
Out of the light
Try not to hang pictures directly opposite large windows as sunlight fades colours and discolours paper. Special UV-coated glass can help to slow this down (we’ve added UV film in older properties, sometimes with a gentle tint). There are industry-wide standards for printing and framing materials. Ask your framer about the ways in which you can preserve your artwork for the long-term. We have experience in UV films for windows too, and can signpost you toward trusted companies to help with this.
Handle with care
When carrying and transporting a picture, grasp the frame firmly on both sides. If you have to store pictures, make sure they are stacked vertically and the right way up. When stacking pictures, stand them glass to glass so that the hangers do not damage the frames.