The artwork you choose to hang on your walls is important. When you’re moving houses or switching out the paintings in favor of new ones, it’s vital to store your artwork properly to protect it from damage.
So, how to store paintings on canvas? Use acid-free/archival paper to protect the painting, then store it wrapped in bubble wrap or thin cloth standing up in a cool, dry environment. Unframed canvases can be covered with acid-free/archival paper, rolled gently, and stored in a mailer tube in a cool, dry environment.
Storing your paintings properly can be the difference between a priceless work of art lasting through generations in your family, or a destroyed irreplaceable heirloom you can never repair. Let’s review how to properly store paintings to avoid disaster.
Supplies For Storing Paintings on Canvas
Thankfully, storing your paintings properly doesn’t take a laundry list of supplies. You only need to have a few things on hand, listed below:
- Acid-free paper/archival paper
- Bubble wrap or thin cloth
- Masking tape
- Mailer tube (for unframed canvas)
- Mirror box (for framed canvas)
Archival paper and acid-free paper are sometimes interchangeable, but it doesn’t hurt to look for paper that says it’s acid-free archival paper.
The acid-free aspect is key, as this will protect your painting from damage. Paper that has acid in it, even if it’s only a little, can end up causing damage to your artwork if left for years.
It’s also important to wrap the framed canvas in either bubble wrap or thin cloth. This will protect it from dust, dirt, fingerprint smudges, or even from small scuffs or dings in transport.
You can use either bubble wrap or a thin cloth. Either way is fine. Bubble wrap will add a little extra protection thanks to the bubbles that act as a buffer, but cloth works great, too.
Once the painting is covered and wrapped, you’ll want to tape everything in place to ensure the careful wrapping doesn’t come undone. It won’t do you any good if the bubble wrap falls off as soon as it gets in storage.
Finally, it’s time to place the painting in its proper storage container. Framed canvases should be stored in mirror boxes, while unframed canvases should be stored in mailer tubes.
Before purchasing, make sure that you have the right size for the job. Mirror boxes are partially adjustable, but it’s still good to know what measurements will fit. Mailer tubes come in different lengths, so choose one that fill fit your canvas.
How To Store Framed Paintings on Canvas
Once you have everything ready to wrap, it’s time to assemble it for proper storage.
Storing a framed canvas is different from storing a canvas that is not framed, so we’ll start with storing a framed canvas first.
- Lay a piece of acid-free archival paper on the painting. Ensure that the acid-free paper is covering the entirety of the painting, including the edges if they have a gallery wrap. Tape the paper in place.
- Wrap the canvas in bubble wrap or thin cloth. The bubble wrap or thin cloth should completely wrap around the canvas front and back, top and bottom. Tape in place.
- Slide the wrapped canvas into a mirror box. You’ll slide it into one half of the mirror box first, then slip the other half on top to cover the entire painting. Tape the box in place.
That’s it! Once you’ve wrapped it and have it secured in the storage box, it’s time to move it to your storage location. We’ll dive more into the storage location options in a section below.
How To Store Unframed Paintings on Canvas
If your paintings are unframed, meaning the canvas has not been stretched onto a wooden frame, you’ll need to store it differently.
- Lay acid-free archival paper over the painting. Ensure the archival paper is covering the entire painting, with an extra border around the edges. Tape in place.
- Gently roll the canvas, making sure the archival paper is staying in place.
- Slide the roll into a mailer tube with one plastic end in place. Once the painting is in the tube, put the other plastic end on to enclose the painting. Tape both plastic ends in place.
That’s it! The mailer tubes are the best way to store unframed canvas paintings because they’re completely safe from sunlight, dust, dirt, fingerprint smudges, and other potential damage.
After the painting is secure in the mailer tube, you’ll want to store it upright in a dry, cool environment. Let’s talk more about the best places to store paintings on canvas.
Where To Store Paintings on Canvas
Even if your paintings are properly wrapped, that’s not a guarantee that they will be safe long-term. You also have to consider the right storage environment.
The paintings have to be stored in a dry, cool area. Both of these environmental factors must be together for the paintings to be safe.
You want to avoid basements, as they can often be cool but too humid. You also want to avoid attics, as these can be dry but too hot. Before choosing a storage area, consider how many windows there are.
Even if the temperature in the room is only 67°, if a window is allowing direct sunlight to beam onto your paintings in their boxes or mailer tubes, that heat will damage them over time.
The less sunlight, heat, and humidity, the better. One place that would be a great storage solution is a temperature-controlled storage unit. These are typically inside of a building, with an air conditioning unit running to keep the environment cool.
Renting a small storage unit at a local storage facility is a great way to safely store your paintings. Just be sure it’s temperature-controlled before renting the unit.
What Can I Use To Store My Paintings?
If you have a lot of paintings that you need to store, it may be difficult to figure out how to properly store dozens of mirror boxes or mailer tubes stuffed with wrapped paintings.
So, what can you use to store your paintings? We suggest using organizing bins or crates to keep them orderly. You can use a plastic tote or tub, a wooden crate, or even a cardboard box to store your paintings.
The idea is to have a bin (or several, depending on how many paintings you’re storing) to neatly stack and arrange your paintings.
If you’re storing framed canvas paintings in mirror boxes, stand them upright and line them up in the bin or box. Depending on the size of your mirror boxes and bin, you may only be able to fit a few in each box.
If you’re storing unframed canvas paintings, you can fit many more per bin, since they’ll be stored in smaller mailer tubes. Each mailer tube should be stored standing upright in the bin or box.
Make sure you get a box that fits the size of your mirror boxes or mailer tubes. If you’re storing extra large artwork that won’t fit in a store-bought box, try building your own wooden crate.
How Do You Protect a Canvas Painting in Storage?
It can feel like a lot of information to try and keep track of while planning to store your paintings, so we’ve provided a quick recap for you below:
- Cover your paintings in acid-free archival paper
- Wrap and store in a mirror box if framed, or roll and store in a mailer tube if unframed
- Store upright in a storage bin or box
- Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight
As long as you follow the four key points above, your paintings will be safe in storage. The first step is always to properly wrap and contain them, while the second step is finding a suitable storage space.
Remember to only store your paintings in a cool, dry place. This will protect them from potential damage from moisture and heat, both of which can ruin a painting if exposed for a long period of time.
Make sure to pack your paintings properly. If you skip the acid-free paper or don’t tape everything in place, the painting may degrade over time.
Store the paintings vertically. You never want to lay them flat or stack them on top of each other. Laying paintings flat for storage can make them susceptible to damage from being stepped on, or from the weight affecting them.
If you stack framed canvas paintings on top of each other and lay them flat, the weight of the wooden frame will start to create an indentation in the canvas that will show through even after you unstack them.
Only one painting should go in each box. Never store more than one framed canvas in the same mirror box. You can store more than one unframed canvas in the same mailer tube, as long as they are completely separated by a couple layers of acid-free paper.
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