Safe Handling of Artwork for Proper Restoration


Do you own precious artwork? Whether art hanging in your home was passed down through generations or is a piece you obtained more recently, everyone has a fond attachment to the artwork they place on their walls. After all, artwork has the power to express our interests, lift our spirits, affect our feelings and our mood — all good reasons why it’s so important that we properly care for the artwork in our home. Safeguarding and proper handling of artwork can actually pay off in the event your piece ever needs to be restored.

Most traditional paintings are done on fabric or a wooden panel. Without getting into the technicalities related to the various layers of a painting, it’s safe to say that all paintings vary from a single thin layer of paint to multiple layers. On top of the paint there is usually a coating made of either synthetic or natural resins. This coating helps to protect the painting underneath from damage that can occur due to dirt, water, smoke, and other things. If now or in the future your painting requires restoration, it’s likely due to one of the following:

Heat: Heat tends to dry out the material of your painting, and this accelerates the aging process. Remember that heat rises (and dirt along with it), so paintings stored in an area such as an attic may gather quite a bit of grime if left alone for any length of time.

Smoke and Soot: In addition to accidental fires that may occur in a home or business, you should consider fires that you light for warmth and aesthetic purposes. Paintings hung above a fireplace, for instance, will likely sustain damage from heat, soot, and smoke, which will change the tone of your painting.

Moisture, Water, and Humidity: Moisture actually weakens the paint layers on your painting. If there is just a thin layer of paint as opposed to multiple layers, this damage could occur even faster. Likewise, rapid changes in humidity never bode well for a painting, as this may cause the painting to become brittle or sprout mold.

Light: Natural and artificial lighting, especially UV lighting, can be terrible for a painting. Causing it to fade or discolor. You should keep your paintings away from direct light as much as possible.

If you’re moving a painting in an effort to have it cleaned or restored due to damage, handle it with care. Larger canvases should be moved by more than one person and carried from both sides of the frame. If the painting is extremely old or valuable, gloves should be worn when handling the painting. If you don’t feel that gloves are necessary, be sure to wash your hands to minimize dirt and oily deposits as much as possible. Remove any jewelry that could scratch your painting, such as rings or bracelets, to avoid an accident. Also, you should never attempt to restore a painting yourself. Instead, speak with an expert about how best to restore your painting to its former glory – and how you can prevent any future damage to it.