Move and store your paintings with care

Doug-Eisele-painting-restoration-39Part 3 of 3 –

How you frame, store, move and maintain your fine art paintings can make a big difference in how long they last. Proper attention to these details assure that your family can enjoy your artwork far into the future.


Ideally a painting should be held in the frame with metal offset clips attached to the frame with screws. Brass mending plates can be bent and adjusted to place light pressure on the back of the stretcher or strainer. Sometimes nails are used to frame paintings, but nails can rust, fall out or protrude through the canvas. Ask the framer or conservator to pad the rabbet (the part of the frame that touches the face of the painting) with felt or another suitable material to protect the image.


Paintings should never be stored in damp areas such as basements, nor should they be left in attics where temperatures can greatly fluctuate. Ideally paintings should be hung on a wall even when in storage, but they may be stored vertically with stiff boards protecting the front and back of each painting.


doug-eisele-moving-frameMove paintings as little as possible. Whenever paintings are handled, they are at increased risk of damage. If you must move a painting, be sure that your path from location to location is clear so that you do not have to maneuver around furniture or obstacles. Lift larger works with one hand on the bottom and one on the side to keep the piece steady. Smaller works may be carried by holding each side. Unless a painting has flaking paint, it should be carried vertically just as it was hanging on the wall. Any wires that may be loose and hit the back of the painting should be secured and all hardware should be inspected before the painting is re-hung. Take care that the painting does not rest on the stretchers as this can leave marks and indentations.

Do not lift the painting using the top of the frame or stretcher; these areas can break under the weight of the whole painting. If the painting is too large for one person to lift properly, have a second person help lift and carry it. If the painting is to be set on the floor or leaned against a wall, elevate it slightly on small padded blocks.


Paintings should be inspected every six months in order to identify any problems before they become severe. Paintings may be lightly dusted with a sable brush (never a feather duster) and only after checking for any loose, flaking paint. Do not use solvents or liquids of any kind on the painting. Never use aerosol sprays such as air fresheners, window cleaner, furniture polish and foggers around paintings. Remove paintings from the room when painting, plastering or steam cleaning carpets.


If a painting is in an area that has been flooded or damaged by fire, remove it and take it to a conservator or painting restoration specialist. If there is any sign of flaking paint, lay the painting flat with the image facing up. Do not wipe smoke, soot or debris from the surface as this may loosen paint and cause severe damage.

Insect infestation, flaking paint, paint loss, torn canvas, cracks with lifting edges, wrinkles or draws in the canvas, mold growth, grime or discolored varnish are all problems that only a professional conservator is trained to address.

In case you missed it:

Part 1 – What’s happening to my paintings?

Part 2 – With proper care, paintings can hold beauty for years

This blog is part of a continuing series offering advice on preserving, displaying and caring for art objects in your home. Additional information is available at the author’s website. See your local, independent insurance agent for advice on coverage to protect fine art and other items of value.

© Copyright 2016 Doug Eisele; used by permission.

Share This Blog:


One Response to “Move and store your paintings with care”

  1. Kyla Cruz

    Pack paintings by collecting boxes that will fit them comfortably and securely and using bubble wrap, newspapers and other packing materials to ensure they are protected during transit. Thank you for posting.

Comments are closed.