How to Store Canvas Oil Paintings

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Things You'll Need

  • Oil painting in frame

  • Polystyrene (jablo)

  • Storage area that is cool, dark, dry, and free of insects

The painting has captured your eye at the auction, and suddenly you're the winning bidder. Never mind that the painting has to be stored away for a few months while your new home is being built. Now that you have invested in quality art, you want to protect the painting from potential damage. This guide will show you how to safely store an oil painting.


How to Store Canvas Oil Paintings

Step 1

Examine your painting. Make sure it is dust-free and secure in the frame. Remove any dust, if necessary. If unframed, get a frame. Oil paintings are easier to store in a frame because the frame provides some protection. Unframed paintings are more susceptible to bent edges, dust, and chipped paint.


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Step 2

Buy polystyrene, also known as jablo, to pad the painting. You can find jablo at hardware stores. This material will protect the canvas, paint, and frame from dust and scratches during storage.

Step 3

Locate a storage area. You want to store the painting in a cool, dark, and dry place that is free of insects. In a museum, oil paintings are always kept at a carefully controlled stable temperature to prevent fading, mildew, and paint decomposition. Oil paintings are ideally kept in an area that remains a stable 21 degrees Celsius and 45% humidity, and away from direct sunlight. Since museum conditions cannot be duplicated at home, try to find a storage area that does not have excessive levels of cold, heat, moisture, or dryness.


The storage area should be free of insects because their droppings contain acids that damage paint. Certain types of insects, such as wood lice and moths, eat canvas and frames. Never spray insecticide on paintings because it will damage the painting. If you are worried about insects, have the storage area treated by a pest control professional to prevent insect contamination.


Step 4

Store oil paintings standing upright. Place pieces of polystyrene between each painting so that nothing can scratch the canvas. This will also protect the painting from dust.

Step 5

If you must store unframed artwork, lay them flat with polystyrene between each painting. Do not put anything else on top of them because it could cause scratches and dents


Step 6

Never lean the front or back of a stretched canvas painting on a pointed object because it will cause dents.

Step 7

Take your oil painting out of storage and hang it as soon as possible. An canvas oil painting is best protected when hung on an interior wall out of direct sunlight.


Protect your canvas oil painting from dust whenever possible. However, if it gets dusty, dust is gently off with a dry clean white cotton cloth. Do not use cleaning solutions.


Never store an canvas oil painting in a plastic box because it could mildew. Do not expose the oil painting to direct sunlight.


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