At our studio we often have people come to us with artwork that has seen its better days.  We either clean it, repair it or simply freshen it up.  Let’s look at ways to take care of those pieces.

How are they framed?

Certainly using a professional framer will help secure the work.  For original work and work that means a lot to you, make sure that everything that touches the piece is acid free and archival.  People used to back pieces with cardboard and use Scotch tape.  Framing materials not up to today’s archival standards will put valuable work at risk. 

Acid is the main culprit affecting works on paper.  Acid is found in glass, backing board, tape and some mats.  If possible use a mat to separate the work from the glass.  If you ‘re using a framer, don’t just assume that they will be using archival materials.  Question them to make sure that everything they use is acid free.   This will add cost to the framing but it is worth  it as time goes on.

Framing oil pieces is easier and simpler.  You can just pop it in a frame.  A backing attached to the frame will help keep dust out.

Archival materials were not always in use.  If you have an older piece it might be wise to have someone check it out to make sure it is not discolored (foxing), or affected by acid sometimes found in older materials.

Where do you hang it?

Moisture is a real threat to any work.  Hanging work in a bathroom or on an outside wall will affect it over time.  Moisture may make works on paper warp or mold.  Works on canvas also trap air between the stretched canvas and wall. Mold will grow and eat through paper or canvas.  A good way to prevent mold is to, occasionally,  put pieces in the sunshine for a few hours.  Sunshine dries the pieces out and will kill mold and stop it from growing.  It does not remove it.

A permanent location for a painting should not be where it will get direct sunlight, even through a window. Some paints, particularly watercolor, may fade.

Additionally think twice about placing a piece over a wood burning fireplace or in a kitchen.  Grease and soot are in the air and will collect on the surface of works.  After a few years it may completely change the colors of your favorite piece.


Although it’s hard to imagine, insects will get into and damage work, even in the cleanest location.  It’s simple enough to take the pieces down periodically and check them over.  If bugs are present either the owner or framer may take them apart to clean.


If a piece is dirty or damaged, I will suggest that you not try to repair it yourself.  Find a professional to do it for you. Paintings and drawings may also be damaged by falling from the wall or knocked over when children are playing near.  Some of this can be avoided by checking the back for loose wire or screws.

We all know not to leave children or pets in a closed car during warm weather, but add artwork, especially oils to that list.  Extreme temperatures that occur in hot, parked, car may affect the consistence of paints and sometimes change their appearance.

Sometimes pieces just look old and worn.  A new mat or fresh frame will give it new life.

Artwork is dear to us for financial and sentimental reasons.  Take care of it and you should have it for a very long time.  Call us at 843.673.9144 if you have any questions.