How to Store Canvas Paintings & Other Artwork

Whether you’re a life-long art collector or a budding artist, most of the pieces you own are likely on canvas. This material is durable and a popular palette for everything from oil paints to acrylic. If you own canvas artwork and need to store it, it’s extremely important to do so with care. Before you stash your artwork, be sure to read these tips to keep your canvas, and the art on it safe.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Make Sure to Avoid Direct Sunlight

Keep all your canvas artwork out of direct sunlight. The UV rays from the sun can cause your paintings to fade, and the sun can also break down the strength of the canvas. Over time, your artwork will become fragile and the colors could be less vibrant. This applies not only to storage but also when you display the artwork in your home.

Make Sure You Store Canvas Paintings Upright

If you stack your canvases horizontally, it can cause the canvas to loosen and sag over time. Never lay your canvas prints or artwork on a flat surface. Instead, keep each piece stored in an upright position. If you lay them flat, you might start to see impressions from the stretcher bars show on the canvas’s surface. Keeping the pieces upright will also keep dust and other debris from settling on the artwork. It’s also a helpful way to maximize available storage space.

Store Canvas Paintings in a Cool, Dry Place

Moisture can wreak havoc on canvas art prints and artwork. It can cause mold and mildew to grow. Once the mold is on your canvas, it’s almost impossible to remove. Heat is another common issue. It can make the canvas expand and contract, causing the artwork to warp. Store your canvases in a cool, dry place away from humidity and moisture. Climate-controlled storage space is an excellent solution.

Avoid Storing Canvas Prints on the Floor

This might seem like common sense, but artists ruin canvas prints like this quite often. If you lay your canvas pieces on the floor, they’re vulnerable to all kinds of damage. Anything from spills to pests can come into contact with the canvas, wreaking havoc on the art. Look for a handy canvas rack storage system to keep your artwork neat and off the floor.

Protect Your Canvas Prints with Cloth

To preserve your canvas art prints, cover each one with a light cloth. You can use anything including an old sheet, as long as it fully covers the piece. When you use a cloth to cover your canvas, it prevents dust, cobwebs, and grime from building up and settling. This applies not only to storage but also if you plan to stash some canvases in your closet. Now that you know how to store your canvas, what should you do when it comes to completed artwork?

storing canvas prints

Store Large Paintings and Canvas Prints in Mirror Boxes

One of the best ways to store your canvas art prints is to use a storage unit as we mentioned above. When your artwork is in the storage unit, pack it in mirror boxes. That includes painting, canvas prints, and decorated mirrors. That way, practically nothing will be able to harm them. Mirror boxes are large, flat boxes, usually in two parts. Those two parts telescope into each other for added protection. A mirror box can protect your art from sun, dust, moisture, vermin, and other types of damage. In fact, they can protect your artwork from practically anything except a major flood.

You can purchase mirror boxes can at several locations. Moving companies have them and will usually sell them to you. You can also go to moving truck rental companies and find mirror boxes there. Wherever you purchase them, make sure to get plenty of acid-free packing paper and tape. Also, if they sell paper pads, purchase enough to wrap your artwork before packing it. That will add an extra layer of protection to every piece you own. Here are the basic steps to pack your canvas, canvas prints and other artwork into a mirror carton:

  1. Put together the top and bottom of the mirror box with packing tape.
  2. Fill the bottom with a layer of crumpled packing paper.
  3. Wrap your print or painting with a paper pad.
  4. Place it inside the bottom (slightly smaller) box.
  5. Put crumpled packing paper into the top (larger) box.
  6. Put the top over the bottom.
  7. Seal with packing tape.
  8. Feel satisfied with yourself and your packing skills.

Store Large Pieces of Artwork In a Crate

Another excellent method to store artwork and large canvas prints is to have it put into a wooden crate. In fact, this is probably the safest and most protective art storage method around. A wooden crate is tough, providing valuable protection against, well, everything. Even if something falls on it, a wooden crate will protect your artwork well.

The downside to wooden crates, however, is the time involved, and the cost to purchase wood, nails, and other supplies to build the crate(s). You will also need some basic tools like a circular saw, hammer, screwdriver, and tape measure. Be sure to measure your artwork to make a crate that fits it well. Some people hire a professional to make their crates, which will add to the overall expense. If you want to do it yourself, though, here’s a basic overview of the steps for how to store canvas paintings in crates.

  1. Measure your artwork’s height, width, and length.
  2. Purchase enough materials to make a crate about 10% bigger than your artwork.
  3. Make the crate, leaving off the top until the end.
  4. Line the crate with cardboard on the inside.
  5. Place crumpled packing paper inside. (Don’t be stingy! Use enough to add a strong layer of protection.)
  6. Place your artwork inside the crate.
  7. Put more crumpled paper inside to protect it completely.
  8. Place the top of the crate on and fasten it with nails or screws. (We recommend screws to make it easier to open the crate again in the future.)

In Closing

In closing, there are several methods for storing canvas prints and other artwork. We suggest using a climate-controlled storage unit if you don’t plan to display your art for an extended period of time. If you do decide to store your paintings, we’re here to help. If you have any questions about how to store canvas paintings, ask the experts at Storage Solutions today.

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This article was originally posted on 9/16/2019
It was updated on 11/16/2020