The artwork you display in your home adds character to the space, expresses your personal taste and may even inspire you. Without decorative art, your rooms may feel barren.
Whether you are an art collector or a homeowner who loves your chosen pieces, you should protect your investment from any potential damage. Unfortunately, there are several forces in and around your home that will deteriorate your art. But with the right strategies, you can keep your paintings, prints and photos looking like new.
Leading causes of damage
Your home is filled with hazards that could fade the image captured in your artwork. Here are the three chief culprits:
Light: Ultraviolet rays from the sun can drain the color from just about anything, including art. In some cases, the sun can even wear down the fibers of the material upon which the art was created, like canvas. However, sunlight isn’t the only harmful form of illumination; light bulbs can be almost as dangerous. Fluorescent bulbs are more harmful to art than incandescent, though the sun is still worse than both of those.
Temperature: Changing and extreme temperatures can damage your home’s artwork. Heat speeds up the deterioration process, while the cold can sap moisture and turn the material brittle.
Humidity: Temperature and humidity go hand in hand, and their effects on paintings, prints and photos is similar. The art will expand in the presence of excess humidity and contract when the air is dry. This fluctuation could warp the material, causing canvas to bubble or paint to crack.
The best way to protect your art from light is to avoid it entirely. However, you can’t very well enjoy the pieces if they are sitting in the dark, so the next best thing is to reduce exposure. Avoid hanging art in direct sunlight or near lamps. Make note of where the sun hits inside each room as the day progresses, and look for spots that remain out of the sun’s path. If you have to put art in a place that receives sun exposure, make sure the exposure occurs in the early morning or late evening.
Consider installing retractable screens on all of the windows in your home. Choose a mesh option that blocks a lot of light so your art will be safe. For example, solar mesh filters out 75 percent of ultraviolet rays and privacy mesh blocks up to 90 percent. Connect your motorized retractable screens to a sun sensor, which will automatically deploy the screens when outdoor conditions are bright.
You want your artwork to remain in an environment with a temperature of 50 to 70 degrees. Blocking ultraviolet rays from the sun with retractable screens will help keep the house cool. You may also consider using a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set the temperature of your home to reach certain points at different times of day. Preset the system so that the house is within the temperature safe zone at all times. Do not place the art directly beneath a vent or exhaust duct as the air blowing out may be a different temperature than the rest of the house.
Keep the humidity of your home between 50 percent to 70 percent – the ratio of water to air. Higher humidity is optimal for the growth of mold, which is just as bad for your health as it is for your art. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can manage the moisture content of the air of your home. Be sure the model you use reports the percentage of humidity in the air at that moment. Do not hang precious artwork in a bathroom that has a shower, as the steam produced from bathing could damage the piece.