How to Store Oil Paintings Without Ruining Them

How to Store Oil Paintings Without Ruining Them

Whether you own an original and expensive piece of art or you have a treasured reproduction like the ones available at 1st Art Gallery, it’s important to properly take care of it. This will help to ensure that it lasts a while and that its value isn’t degraded over time. This means making sure that oil paintings are not only properly put on display but that they’re properly stored when the time comes as well. Follow these steps to properly store an oil painting.

What are the Risks of Improper Storage?

To stress the importance of proper oil painting storage practices, it’s worth taking a moment to recognize what improper handling and storage can do.

As far as direct damage, it’s best to avoid tears, breaks, and even smaller impacts like fingerprints on the canvas or polished finish. Stains and marks are negative signs to keep an eye out for as well.

Premature aging can affect an oil painting too. Concepts like exposure to ultraviolet light can cause significant damage.

Preparing an Oil Painting for Storage

The first thing to do before storing a painting is to clean it thoroughly. It’s suggested to use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe away any dust without damaging the painting. Alternatively, a safe bet is to take it to a professional for cleaning to avoid any incidental damage from inexperience.

It’s also a good idea to talk to a professional when it comes to wrapping an oil painting. However, it’s generally agreed to not use a wrap like saran wrap before storing a piece of art, even if it does seem to be common practice. This can trap harmful elements like humidity in with the painting, causing damage.

Acidic materials are bad for paintings as well. If a material used in storing an oil painting isn’t acid-free, it’s likely that the owner will see signs of premature aging and even dye the back of the print or canvas, essentially devaluing it.

It’s better to use something like a crescent board to store art. This helps to separate oil paintings from one another, especially if they’re stacked or packed for moving. Plus, the crescent board is acid-free!

Considering the Environment

The environment that a painting is kept in has a huge effect on how well-preserved it remains. For example, if an oil painting is stored in a damp basement or even in an area where it’s exposed to direct sunlight, it’s likely to take damage that it wouldn’t if the environment was carefully balanced.

First, make sure that the painting is kept in a finished room. These will work better for climate control than an unfinished attic or basement. It’s also well worth it to ensure that there aren’t any open windows or air vents – at least, air vents that won’t blow directly on the painting. It’s a good idea to try and find a room that doesn’t feature an exterior wall either.

Generally, it’s a good idea to avoid any room where you notice signs of potential damage. This could be a room that has a musty smell or seems moldy or dusty.

To get into the details, the ideal climate for a piece of art is a humidity of around 40% to 50% with a temperature hovering between 70 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In Celsius, this would be 21 to 24 degrees. A humidifier can help greatly with the humidity but even within this range, it shouldn’t change more than 5% in a full 24-hour day to avoid damage such as yellowing, cracking paint, warping, or the growth of mold.

How to Store Oil Paintings Without Ruining Them
Keep the Painting Away from Food Storage

This might seem like an obvious choice but it’s important enough to stress. If an oil painting is kept near food, it’s much harder to stain or mark the painting.

On top of that, having food in the same storage area as a painting can invite pests that will also damage the painting. In other words, don’t keep an oil painting where even something like boxes of dry food are stored.

Light Damage and Oil Paintings

As mentioned earlier, direct light on oil paintings can cause a number of issues. For instance, ultraviolet light can age a painting quickly while even direct light can cause heat damage. It’s best to not store an oil painting anywhere too sunny or under direct light from fluorescent bulbs.


To make the most out of an oil painting for a long period of time, it’s best to ensure that you take care of it properly when it’s both in and out of storage. By following these tips, you can ensure that an oil painting will be around for a long time to enjoy and share with others. It will even help keep the value high!

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