How to Store Paintings for Long-Term Life in Self-Storage

If you’re moving items into a self-storage unit and these items include paintings, then wrapping them in a blanket or in newsprint is certainly not going to do the artworks any favour. Do this, and when you retrieve your paintings, they will probably be damaged. In other words, don’t do this.

We at Real Storage are concerned with all of your personal self-storage items – that’s our job! That is also why we’ve created this helpful guide to storing paintings without damaging or devaluing them.

Knowing the risks

Paintings are unique pieces in a self-storage unit. Humidity can damage them easily. Leaving them in a vulnerable place can result in horrible results.

Grubby fingers, spilt beverages, ash from cigarettes, stains from cosmetics or other household chemicals, intense light, bits of food, and pests are just a few of the possible things that can go wrong while moving or storing paintings.

All of these hazards need to be kept in mind when putting your paintings into self-storage.

Packing paintings

Always handle paintings with extra care. Hold onto the frame when carrying them – never the canvas. Dirt or salt (from sweat) on your fingers can damage the paint on the canvas, so do not touch it. Pack the painting properly, and you won’t need to worry about the contact.

Paintings should be packed in special painting/mirror boxes, but tossing them in as is, is not going to be successful. You need to wrap the painting, preferably, in a poly-wrap (this is essentially like 10 layers of tissue paper, finished with a plastic sheet on the outside). Clean paper (not newsprint – the ink on the newsprint can damage the work) can be ok as an alternative, but ideally you use a poly-wrap. Cover the face and frame of the painting in the poly-wrap, taping it on tight (do not tape to the painting itself: tape should only touch the poly-wrap).

Before putting the painting inside of the box, put a layer of crushed paper in the bottom, and then wedge more down the sides of the painting, and on top, once it is in the box. The idea is that once the painting is in the box, it doesn’t move.

Depending on the size of the painting, and especially its frame, you can put more than one painting inside a box (wrapped separately). Be careful though that the paintings are not shoved together too closely, and put them inside either face-to-face or back-to-back.

Transporting paintings

Always move paintings standing upright; never lie them flat. Lying them flat can result on something falling (or someone sitting) on it. Moreover, stored flat can also cause the canvas to droop and stretch.

Secure the painting in the vehicle so that it will not move around. Flat and tied with a strap against the wall of a truck is ideal, but even in the middle of a load, surrounded by either items and loaded tightly, will work just fine. Be sure that the painting won’t move, and nothing can fall towards it.

If someone else is moving the painting(s) for you, then it is also advisable, as an additional safety measure, to inquire about shipping insurance.

Where to store and not store your paintings

Never store paintings in a place that is particularly damp or dry. A constant temperature and moderate humidity is what is required. Climate-controlled self-storage units are ideal places to store paintings, so we strongly suggest storing them in one of those, especially during the summer or winter months when temperatures are at their extremes.

Always store paintings standing upright; never lie them flat. In proper painting/mirror boxes, you can of course put other items on top, but only if the painting box is not going to shift and move. Any movement could cause something from above to fall on top, and this could have detrimental results.

If there are any damp items, such as refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, etc., in the storage space, keep the paintings as far away as possible. Similarly, if there are any hot items, such as a furnace, keep the paintings nowhere near. Again, fluctuations in temperatures or extreme temperatures can harm your paintings.

Keep any paintings away from direct sunlight, as sunlight can have serious damage to an artwork. Cover the painting with a blanket if it is not boxed and needs to travel or be stored somewhere where the sunlight can get to it.

If you’re storing your painting in a self-storage unit, be sure to check on it every month or so to be sure pests or rodents have not infiltrated the space, or that some dampness has entered the space. Make the necessary adjustments if you find that something like this has occurred.

Of course, storing your paintings in a self-storage unit, and a climate-controlled one at that, is the best way to keep your artworks safe. Real Storage has many sizes and types of units that will satisfy any need, including those for storing paintings.

Speak with your Real Storage agent today for further advice on storing paintings or any self-storage need – or speak with us to reserve the self-storage unit you require.