Prevent Art From Slipping Off the Wall

Imagine watching a piece of your art collection come crashing to the ground.

Professional Art Hanger and Storage Specialist Isaac Karner tells the story of a client calling him, frantic, over a shattered antique mirror. “It was strung on a wire,” he said, “that’s not the right hanging system for something that big and heavy.” The mirror was hanging above an antique piece of furniture, which was also ruined when the mirror fell.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to caring for your artwork at home. You likely bought your pieces with a clear vision, yet bring it home and see that you didn't consider the space, weight, and support to install it right away.

Consider Every Time You Move a Piece of Art

If you are bringing a new piece home, or you’re worried that your current collection is not hanging securely, or—the biggest project of them all—you’re moving, the following list outlines ways to protect your art at home:

1. Hire a Professional Art Hanger

Professional art hangers are skilled in how to best support and hang art with the right materials. “It’s a combination of what’s on the back of the art and what we are putting on the wall,” Karner explains, “we go by weight and we know what [hardware] is going to work.”

Professional art hangers work with a multitude of hardware and have a system based on weight and size to hang your pieces. If having the peace of mind that your art is securely hung on the wall is worth it to you, we would suggest hiring a professional.

2. Hang Art Out of the Way of Doors and Ventilation

When planning your art display, assume it’s a beautiful day with your doors and windows open. If a breeze or sudden summer rain could come in through a screened door and damage your piece, it’s a good idea to brainstorm alternate locations.

You also want to keep artwork out of direct draft from your ventilation system. 

3. Place Art Out of Direct Sunlight

Light damage is irreversible to your artwork. Curtains and shades will protect your valuables from light damage, but we know that there needs to be another solution. You shouldn’t have to keep your blinds closed and deprive yourself of sunlight because you’re a conscious collector.

For those that like to let the natural light in, consider a translucent protective film for your windows and skylights. “We try to be conscious of how much light the artwork will be getting,” Karner says, “and suggest better placement.”

Companies like Vista Windowfilm specialize in clear window protections that block against UV light and heat. You can also protect your art from sunlight with specialty glass in the frame.

4. Frame Everything

Framing your art collection is an investment. In addition to choosing a frame that complements the overall style of the piece, you want to choose the right glass to protect it from the elements. Here are the most common options:

  • Non-Glare Glass and Regular Glass: These are the materials mainly used on frames you will find at the craft and hardware store. These options provide half to zero protection against UV rays.

  • Plexiglass: A lighter weight glass, plexiglass protects against about 60% of UV rays.

  • Museum Glass: This is the most effective glass to protect your art. While also the most expensive, it allows less than 1% light reflection and blocks 99% of damaging UV rays. “We always recommend museum glass to protect the artwork,” Karner confirms.

5. Keep Your Home Around 70 Degrees

The ideal temperature to store artwork is 65 to 75 degrees. Be conscious of this when you’re travelling and leaving your home vacant. If the temperature at home is going to rise to 90 degrees while you’re out town, consider leaving the central air on during your trip.

6. Rotate Your Art Display

By moving your art display you are intrinsically more aware of the state of your collection. You can make sure the frames and backings are in good condition and double check that the art is hung with the best support available. This will also keep your senses fresh when it comes to understanding and adding to your collection.

7. Install & Maintain Smoke Detectors

Make sure smoke detectors are installed 100 feet from all art in the home. Be cognisant of whether you have a heat detector or smoke detector. Heat detectors are commonly installed in homes because they protect from fire, but they do not protect from cooled smoke entering your home from a distant fire. Be sure that your home’s fire protection is a smoke detector opposed to a heat detector.

8. Don’t Hang Valuable Art Over a Fireplace

Keeping your art directly above a fireplace invites smoke and heat damage.

9. If You Need to Store Art, Be Smart About it

Check out our full post on how to store your artwork here.

A special thanks to Isaac Karner, of Colorado Art Services, for his contributions.

Want to know more about conservation and storing artwork at home? Get tips from more experts in our free e-book, Essential Guide to Collecting Art, available to download now.