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

Oil paintings on canvas are trendy and are found in many homes, businesses, and government buildings. Oil paint on canvases is a popular medium for artists due to its look and feel when brushed. Do you have a collection of oil paintings on canvas you need to store? If yes, the information below will be beneficial indeed. It lists the dos and don’ts of storing oil paintings on canvases. How to store them, where to store them and what materials you need when packing oil paintings for storage. Read on to discover everything about storing oil paintings on canvases in your home or a storage unit!

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Do: Wrap all Oil Paintings on Canvases when Stored

No matter where you store your oil paintings on canvases, you must wrap them. Wrapping will protect the delicate surface of your oil paintings. It will also protect the frames and keep them dust, dirt, and fingerprint free. 

Don’t: Store your Oil Paintings on Canvases in the Attic or Basement

One of the worst mistakes you can make with oil paintings is to store them in your attic or basement. The reasons include heavy moisture, mold, mildew, and excessive heat. The excessive heat you’ll find in your attic, even in winter. Extreme heat can permanently damage the paint on your oil paintings. It can also cause warping and damage the canvas fibers. Humidity and moisture, often found in basements, are just as damaging for oil paintings on canvas. One problem is that the wood frame absorbs moisture, but the paint does not. This situation can lead to cracking and shrinking as well as mold. 

Do: Purchase Large Paper Pads for Wrapping Oil Paintings on Canvases

We talked about wrapping your oil paintings when you store them. The best way to do that is with large paper pads, which you can purchase online. Paper pads are just what their name implies; large pads made with paper. Paper pads are typically two layers of thick paper with a thin corrugated layer sandwiched in between. Most paper pads are big enough to fit a large oil painting on a canvas. You can wrap each painting similarly to the way you would wrap a present during the holidays. 

Don’t: Use Bubble Wrap to Pack your Oil Paintings

Bubble wrap might seem like a great idea for packing oil paintings on canvases, but it’s not. The reason is that the bubbles can leave an impression on the oil paint that won’t be easy to remove. (Talk about a bad first impression!) We recommend flat paper pads that won’t harm your oil paintings. We also recommend against using packing peanuts. Packing peanuts can shift when moving your oil paintings and damage them, sometimes significantly.

Do: Pack Your Oil Paintings in Boxes for Long-term Self Storage

If you store your oil paintings on canvases at home, putting them in a carton is probably not necessary. They should be fine if you keep them in a closet or area with very little foot traffic. However, boxing them is critical when you have your oil paintings in self-storage long-term. Many things can go wrong in a storage unit and damage your paintings. For example, something can fall on them, or they can fall over, insects can damage the frame, etc. 

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

Don’t: Lay Your Oil Paintings Flat

It’s essential that you never lay your oil paintings flat, no matter where you store them. First of all, laying them flat can cause the canvas and frame to warp. Secondly, if anything falls, it could damage the painting, possibly irreparably. Also, if you accidentally step on an oil painting lying flat, you could destroy it. No matter where you store your oil paintings, always store them standing up on one edge. It’s the safest way to keep them and exposes them to the least risk of damage.

Do: Use Mirror Boxes to Pack your Oil Paintings

If you pack your oil paintings for long-term storage, mirror boxes are best. Mirror boxes have two sides, an inner and an outer. When put together, they telescope, so you can make them larger or smaller. Once packed, most oil paintings on canvas have two layers of corrugated carton. In other words, mirror boxes provide the ultimate protection for oil paintings. By the way, most Storage Solutions locations sell mirror boxes for a very reasonable price. They also sell the packing paper you need to do it right.

Don’t: Store Oil Paintings on a Canvas where the Temperatures Fluctuate Significantly

Earlier, we discussed avoiding the attic and basement when storing oil paintings on canvas. The reason why, as we now know, is due to temperature and moisture. That’s why you mustn’t store oil paintings where temperatures fluctuate significantly. Your garage might not get hot as the attic or damp as your basement, but the temperatures can fluctuate greatly. For instance, in winter, it can be freezing in the morning but much warmer in the afternoon. (In summer, precisely the opposite.) 

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

Do: Pack Canvases for Oil Paintings in Shipping Tubes

The best way to protect canvases without frames is to roll them up and place them in shipping tubes. If they’re painted, place a sheet of acid-free paper between each painting. If storing them at home, you can possibly skip the tubes. However, for long-term storage, they’re a must.

Brought to you by Storage Solutions

We hope today’s information about how to store oil paintings on canvas has been informative and helpful. If you have an extensive collection of them, correctly storing your oil paintings on canvases is critical. If done well, they will last much longer and give you yours of enjoyment.

At Storage Solutions, we help people like yourself store their oil paintings on canvas daily. Many people store them in our climate-controlled storage units for ultimate protection. Climate-controlled storage units keep the temperature between 50℉ and 80℉  throughout the year. That helps prevent any damage from extreme temperatures and temperature fluctuations.

If you have more questions about storing your oil paintings or anything else, click this link. It will take you to Storage Solutions’ main website. There you will find all of our locations and phone numbers for each. If there’s a Storage Solutions location near you, we suggest visiting and meeting the onsite manager. They will gladly answer any questions and help you choose the perfect storage unit for your particular needs.

This post was originally published on 12/11/2020. It was updated 09/13/2022.

Read more on the Storage Solutions Blog!