Here are some guidelines for looking after framed prints and posters:
- Never, ever store framed prints or posters in an attic, shed, garage or anywhere else that is subject to large changes in humidity and/or temperature. Even within a short space of time the print or poster will wrinkle up. Even dry-mounted posters and prints are not completely immune to bubbling or going wavy in such conditions. Over a longer period there is likely to be mould growth etc and the print or poster will be completely irreparable.
- Know the difference between glass and plastic glass. Prints or posters framed using glass will be heavier but apart from that it is hard to tell the difference as good quality plastic glass is as clear as normal glass. The only limitation of plastic glass is that it will scratch if it is cleaned with anything abrasive, whereas normal glass won’t. In normal conditions it is unlikely that more than a wipe with a dry cloth will be needed. If a more thorough cleaning is necessary then just use a soft damp cloth for plastic glass. Do not use alcohol based cleaners as this may discolour the plastic glass.
- For landscape style prints and posters always hang them with two hangers rather than one. Not only will this mean you won’t have to keep straightening the picture up there is less risk of it being knocked off the hook when cleaning, or someone knocking against it (in a hallway for instance). Even heavy portrait style prints or posters can sometimes benefit from being hung on two hooks to keep them completely stable.
- Check the solidity of the wall before hanging a picture even if it is a light frame using plastic glass. If in doubt forget using a normal picture hook and drill a hole, put in a plug and screw in a screw with a large head to hang the picture on.
- Even though many modern prints and even posters are printed using light-fast inks it is always a good idea to keep them out of direct sunlight. Even if the inks are completely light-fast (and this can vary), if the print is a limited edition signed by the artist in anything other than pencil it is quite possible that the signature and numbering will fade. In fact, this can occur over time even when not in direct sunlight so imagine how much quicker it will be in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can also add to the damage to the frame and its contents by the large changes in temperature in a short space of time that the frame and the print or poster are subjected to.
- If you need to pack a framed print or poster away somewhere or for transportation then make sure you pack it in bubble wrap to stop it getting knocked about whilst in storage. If you are packing several framed prints or posters of similar size then pack each pair face to face. They need to be of very similar size in order to be sure that the frame of one is not pressing on the glass of the other one it is facing.
Following these simple guidelines should help to keep your prints and posters in good condition for many years to come and prevent you having to scour the Internet for a replacement one day.
- It is best to use only 100% acid free museum standard materials with a pH factor of 7.5 to 8.3 for any mounts or hinges that come into contact with the artwork. In the USA the term matt is used instead of mount where mountboard is a backing board only.
- Wood pulp mountboard is not acid-free which means it can discolour the board or paper the artwork has been printed on. Mountboard should at least have an acid-free backing in contact with the print but the inner edge of the mount will discolour over time. It is best to use removable acid free hinges attached from the back of the print to the back of the mountboard but failing this use only a low tack masking tape.
- Prints on a lighter stock should be only attached at the top of the mount and allowed to hang free. This should stop any creasing around the edges due to changes in environmental conditions. The alternative is to have them dry-mounted or fixed to a self-adhesive board (see other articles to follow).
- It best to use a small craftsman for the framing rather than high street shops that tend to be more expensive and of a lower quality generally speaking. These can usually be found by trawling through the smaller adds in your phone book or craft magazines. Wherever you go you’ll find the attitude of a real craftsman is different. They will take the time to examine the print and select the appropriate colour of mountboard and frame to complement the colours in the image. If you are there then you should find them keen to discuss these options with you. The basic approach is to look at the main background colour of the image and work with that but this is not always the best solution. Brightly coloured images like fantasy and sci-fi art images can sometimes benefit from a more creative approach to the use of coloured mounts. Black and cream are always an option for the mount but have certain drawbacks. Black will tend to make an image look more stark so it can entirely ruin a subtle picture … like a print of a watercolour painting perhaps. Cream can tend to be bland, bringing out the yellow tones a little but that’s all. Generally, with bold images darker mounts work better than lighter ones.
- Artists UK can supply your prints bought at Artists UK mounted and framed using high grade generic plexiglass which has the advantages of being lighter, practically unbreakable and more resistant to UV radiation than glass. We do not generally recommend the use of non-reflective glass as this is not completely clear and tends to dull the image, especially when it is mounted and therefore not flat against the glass (which of course is one reason for mounting anyway – to keep the print away from contact with the glass where humidity might cause it to stick to the glass in the long-term).
- Over the years prints can still be damaged by poor environmental conditions even when well-framed so it is best to air-condition or dehumidify any room that has dampness or is prone to excessive water vapours (hanging quality prints in bathrooms is to be avoided at all costs!). Very low humidity is also to be avoided as is siting the print directly over a radiator or other heat source.
- Flourescent lighting and sunlight have harmful UV rays so it is best to keep even light-fast ink printed Limited Editions away from these and prints printed without these inks (practically all those published before the mid-nineties and some later ones) will fade.
- If the artist has signed in ink rather than pencil then this can be prone to fading so keep it out of direct sunlight.
- Never use any cleaning materials on the surface of the print.
- If there is any form of damage, staining or discolouring at any time then seek professional assistance rather than trying to correct it yourself.
Following these guidelines should help to ensure that your Limited Edition print stays in good condition, provides pleasure for many years and possibly becomes a very good investment for you.
Any questions, then email us from the Contact Us button on the link below or write a comment we can reply to.
Where the poster is tightly rolled you need to put it on a table or other flat surface and, after placing weights on the exposed flap, carefully unroll it across the flat surface. Leave it like that for an hour or two so that it does not curl up again before attempting to do anything more with it.
With old collectable posters and prints that are not printed on a heavy stock (ie. they are more like paper than board) we recommend that you have them dry-mounted before the usual matting and framing. This is a special process where the poster or print is rolled onto an acid-free board using a heat sensitive adhesive. It turns the paper into a board and ensures the paper won’t go wavy in the frame. It is very unlikely, but not 100% guaranteed, to get bubbles as it would if done by hand. It also helps to protect against discolouration damage from hardboard back-plates in the framing (but avoid the use of hardboard anyway if at all possible – good framers don’t use hardboard now). A good framing shop should be either able to do this for you or sub-contract it to a specialist who can do it. It will cost extra but the price is not usually that high and less if you have several to do at once. See also other articles on using self-adhesive board etc to follow …