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Tips for looking after your framed pictures

Here are some tips for looking after your framed pictures from Pure Framing.

When you have invested money in getting a picture framed professionally, you will want to look after it and avoid doing anything that might damage or shorten the life of your frame.  Here are some easy pointers for staying clear of some of the common pitfalls:

Transporting the framed picture

Picture frames are delicate objects and need handling and transporting with care.

  • Always carry the frame upright and take hold of it firmly on both sides (never carry it by the top of the frame).
    Always carry a frame by its sides
    Always carry a frame by its sides
  • Transport and store the picture upright to avoid putting pressure on or dislodging the mounted item which will have been secured at the top. If you transport a large glazed picture on its back without sufficient support the glass may crack due to vibrations during transport.
  • Make sure that you surround the frame with soft padding to avoid knocks, scratches or bumps. Something like towels, blankets or an old duvet will be ideal.

Think about where you are going to hang your framed picture

Hanging the picture in an unsuitable location can damage the frame and the picture inside it.

  • Avoid “hot spots” – pictures should not be hung above radiators or any other places in the house where temperature will fluctuate from hot to cold. Changes in temperature can cause paper and wood to dry out and adhesives to fail.
  • Avoid hanging the picture in humid or damp conditions. If you do this you increase the likelihood of the papers / mounts inside the frame becoming damp.  Damp can cause the picture in the mount to ripple, it can encourage fungal growth (causing discolouration and damage).  Avoid hanging a picture on a newly plastered wall – allow 6 months for the plaster to dry out first.  Extra protection against damp can be built into a framing package, but it will only delay damage in a very damp location.
  • Avoid hanging pictures in direct sunlight. UV light is very damaging and fades colours and degrades paper.
  • Once you have decided to hang your picture, make sure that you hang it securely. For larger pictures, two wall hooks will be better than one – set them about a quarter of the way in from either side of the picture.

Displaying your picture to the best advantage

Giving a bit of thought to how you display your picture (or pictures) will give you a more enjoyable and effective display.

  • Think about “eye level” – this is how most pictures are designed to be viewed.
  • If you are hanging a group of pictures of different sizes, try laying them out on the floor first to come up with a “design” for your group that you like. Aligning the top edges is a good place to start, but the group need not be symmetrical to get an effective display.

Aftercare

Cleaning

You will want to keep your pictures clean, so here are some tips on how to do this to avoid damaging them.

  • Avoid using water or cleaning fluids on frames, it can spoil the finish, and moisture may get inside the frame. Instead, just dust frames with a soft brush.
  • Keep your glass clean by dusting with a dry glass cloth. If you have to use glass cleaner then apply to the cloth first, not directly onto the glass or it could seep into the framing package.  Remember that specialist glass (such as Anti-Reflective) has an optical coating which is easily scratched, so take particular care.

Checking

The Fine Art Trade Guild recommends that pictures should be taken to your picture framer for a “check up” every five years.  However, here are some of the more common problems you can look out for yourself in the meantime:

  • Check the cord or wire on your frame from time to time to make sure that it isn’t wearing out or coming loose. If it is, take it to your framer for replacement.
  • Check the contents of your frame for any evidence of deterioration. Things to look out for include any discolouration, small brown dots, small insects under the glass.  If you see any evidence of this, take it to your framer for checking and advice.
    Discolouration visible on the mount
    Discolouration visible on the mount
  • Check the back of the picture to see if the tape sealing the back of the frame is intact and not peeling. If it is breached or coming away take it to your framer for replacement.
  • If your picture is an un-glazed, varnished oil or acrylic, check for evidence of the varnish discolouring on the face of the painting. This will gradually discolour over time.  This can be cleaned / replaced by a professional fine art conservator.
  • You may find that canvasses stretched over wooden stretcher bars may sag over time. If this is the case then talk to your picture framer about tightening it or having it re-stretched.

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