Nothing adds decorative flair like a good photograph or painting.
Unfortunately, these works of art can get damaged when they’re exposed to different light sources. Without taking the proper steps, you may lose these beautiful images to sun damage.
Learning how to protect these prints is key to preserving their beauty for years to come. Read on to find out how sunlight damages your photographs. We’ll give you easy tips to protect them from UV rays and keep them as detailed as ever.
Tips For Protecting Your Printed Photo
Proper storage can prevent your photo from being damaged. Here are some simple ways you can keep your old photograph looking detailed and colorful!
Minimize Sun Exposure
Make sure your photographs are stored away from sunlight. Direct exposure can damage your priceless images forever!
Consider tinting your house’s windows with a UV-blocking tint. This will significantly reduce the chances of your displayed painting or photograph being damaged by sun bleaching.
If you’re not displaying your framed art or photograph, store frames separately from each other in a cool, dry room away from the sun. Lay them flat if you can, or pad them with bubble wrap if you’re storing multiple photographs together.
Frame Your Image Under UV-Resistant Glass Or Acrylic
Regular glass will not block ultraviolet rays. Look for UV-safe glass and acrylic glass frames instead. These will block up to 98% of UV light. However, this may not be the most pleasing choice for framing artwork, as these frames can cause light diffusion and reduced clarity for viewing.
The best UV filtering option is museum glass. It provides 99% UV protection, making it a top choice for framed photographs and artwork. While more expensive than other glass frame options, it remains incredibly clear and has anti-reflective layers.
Print Your Picture On Archival Paper
Prevention is better than cure. When choosing a studio for printing your photographs, ask if they print on archival or acid-free paper.
Your typical printing options are gloss, matte, satin, and luster-finish papers – these have acidic chemicals that make your photographs prone to yellowing and fading. Archival papers do not have these acids, which is why they’re also called acid-free papers. By printing on this material, you can keep photographs looking detailed and vibrant for decades to come!
Opt For Archival Framing
You can take this acid protection a step further and ask for archival framing, which prevents your photograph from coming in contact with any acidic material. Any mounting tapes, mats, and boards that will touch your print will be free of acid, preventing it from yellowing later on.
Get Dust Covers
When getting a frame for your painting or photograph, ask the framing store to insert dust covers. These will protect your photographs from dirt, debris, and insects that may slip into the frame.
Avoid Extreme Humidity And Temperature Changes
Keep your photographs from being exposed to high moisture levels or extreme variations in heat. This will keep the chemicals from breaking down.
You can also use a clear coat spray application to seal them from humid or hot air – this is particularly recommended for art that you want to frame and mount in more humid areas of your home, such as your bathroom. An epoxy spray mixed with UV protectants can be used on canvas prints.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do pictures fade in direct sunlight?
The dyes and chemicals used to create your picture are held together by chemical bonds. These bonds are broken down by the UV rays in direct sunlight. While some materials are more resistant to UV light than others, repeated exposure to the direct sun will eventually cause light bleaching. This will drain the color from your picture.
Will indirect sunlight damage an image?
Yes. While indirect sunlight won’t fade a print as quickly, it will start to fade without the protection of UV glass or coating. Methods for avoiding indirect light may be impractical or slightly more expensive, but it’s still easier and cheaper than protecting photographs from direct sunlight.
Do other light sources damage photos?
Yes. Other light and heat sources such as incandescent or fluorescent lighting emit ultraviolet light, although at lower levels than sunlight. There have been cases where fine art has faded over time because of fluorescent lighting.
LED lights emit much less UV light, and are a safer option for lighting up framed photography. If you want to use lighting to highlight artwork, use LED lights with UV filtering to minimize potential fading.
Will lamination prevent ultraviolet damage?
No. Lamination will seal your photograph from moisture and airborne particles, but it won’t block out ultraviolet rays. It also won’t keep your photograph from being damaged by sunlight.
If you remove lamination, there’s also a strong chance that the photograph will be ruined, so do not do this unless you’ve made digital copies of your photograph as backups.
Your restored, protected prints will make beautiful artworks for decorating your house! Just follow these precautions so you can display your photographs without worrying about light damage or detail loss.
If you’re looking to restore an old photo or frame art prints that will last a lifetime, Image Restoration Center is your best choice. Get in touch with us now to find out how we can retouch and create lasting copies of your old photographs!