The Dos and Don’ts of Storing Oil Paintings On Canvas

If you have a collection of oil paintings on canvas that you need to store, short or long-term, read on! We’ve got The Dos and Don’t Of Storing Oil Paintings on Canvas ready to help you do it right!

The World Loves Oil Paintings On Canvas

In the art world, canvas and painting go together like peas and carrots. Some of the most famous paintings in history have been on canvas—the Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. After the Bath, Woman Wiping Her Neck by Edgar Degas. And arguably the most famous oil painting on canvas globally, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

Now, let’s be honest; most of us will never be able to afford one of these fantastic oil paintings. Still, many American families have precious oil paintings of their hanging on their walls. Some were done by local artists, while members of the family painted others. Some may have been handed down from one generation to the next and now are in your care. Maybe you love oil painting on canvas and collect them as a hobby. Suffice to say that many people have oil paintings on canvas hanging proudly on their walls.

Don’t: Storing Your Oil Paintings on Canvas in Heat

If you have oil paintings on canvas that you need to store, doing it correctly is vital. That way, you can protect your precious artwork from damage, chipping, cracks, and dust. This is especially true if you’re having them stored long-term. For example, humidity can be devastating to oil paintings. It can force the multiple layers of paint to expand and contract and cause the canvas to loosen. 

Do: Get Proper Packing Materials for Your Oil Paintings

If you’re storing oil painting on canvas for months or years, you should pack them correctly. That means purchasing the right materials, some of which are easier to buy than others. Below is a list of all the materials you will likely need to pack your oil paintings:

  • Acid-free, blank packing paper in large sheets (Purchase at a moving truck rental company.)
  • Paper pads to wrap the paintings. (Purchase at a moving truck rental company.)
  • Several rolls of packing tape. (Purchase at a big box department store.)
  • Mirror and painting boxes. (Purchase at a moving truck rental company.)

Packing paintings in mirror boxes is relatively straightforward.

  1. Wrap a painting in a paper pad. Make sure to fold it well with plenty of pad over the actual painting.
  2. Set up and tape your box. (It comes in 2 pieces that telescope into each other. One is slightly larger than the other, which you can tell if you stand them side-by-side.))
  3. Crumple 10 to 12 sheets of packing paper and put them in the bottom of the interior (slightly smaller) mirror box half.
  4. Slide the wrapped oil painting into the mirror box, pushing it down gently but firmly onto the crumpled paper.
  5. Crumple more packing paper and put it in the top (slightly larger) mirror box half.
  6. Slide the larger mirror box onto the smaller.
  7. Tape the two box together well

Depending on the size and shape, you may be able to fit more than one oil painting in a mirror box. If you do, put them with their painted sides facing each other.

Do: Store Oil Paintings on Canvas Under These Circumstances

Why would you want to store your oil paintings on canvas? Well, there are several reasons, including;

  • Having your home renovated to protect them from dust, dirt, debris, and theft.
  • Moving but need to store your household goods for a few weeks or months.
  • If you’ve inherited a collection of oil paintings and aren’t sure what to do with them.
  • You have an extensive oil painting collection and don’t have the wall space to hang them simultaneously.
  • If you collect and sell oil paintings for fun and profit.
  • You run an art gallery or own your art supply store.

Do: Rent a Storage Unit To Store Your Oil Paintings

One of the very best places to store oil paintings is at a self-storage facility in a storage unit. There you’ll find clean, safe, and secure storage for both long and short-term needs. Storage units are video monitored 24/7 and have on-site managers during the day. Plus, you can rent the perfect size, depending on how many oil paintings you need to store. If you buy and sell oil paintings for profit, getting in and out of a storage unit is easy and fast.

A climate-controlled storage unit might also be the right choice. Climate-controlled storage units protect oil paintings from damaging fluctuations in heat and humidity. They’re the perfect spot if you’re storing oil paintings on canvas, especially high-value paintings.

storing oil paintings on canvas

Storing Oil Paintings FAQ

Love to scan and get you facts quickly? If yes, here’s a short FAQ list to answer your oil painting storage questions!

Can you store oil paintings in the basement?

No. The humidity and risk of flooding are too great.

Can you store oil paintings in the attic?

The attic is a ‘no’ due to its high heat and temperature fluctuations.

How to clean an oil painting (if it gets dusty in storage)

Use a soft, natural hair paintbrush for dust. If it’s slightly dirty, a 100% cotton cloth that’s dipped in soapy water works best. (Be gentle!)

How much does it cost to clean an oil painting?

It depends on the painting and how dirty it is. Prices can start in the hundreds of dollars and go up from there.

Now You Can Store Your Oil Paintings on Canvas Safely

We hope these Do’s and Don’ts have given you the answers you needed. The last thing we want is for your oil paintings to be damaged while stored! Best of luck packing and keeping all your precious works of art!