Preparing Your Paintings for Long-Term Self-Storage


Some self-storage items are easy to store. Boxes of clothes, sofas, cabinets, linens, and iron patio furniture are all examples of low maintenance storage items. If these are the types of items you’re about to put into storage, then you won’t need to worry much about fluctuating temperatures or the humidity; but if you’ve got paintings, then the story is much different.

Wrapping paintings in the typical moving blanket or a number of sheets of paper might work in the very short-term, but any extended stay, especially in the hotter or colder months, will certainly damage your artworks if you do not put the necessary measures into effect.

At Sentinel Storage, we want to make sure that your items come out of storage in the same shape they went in, so we’ve compiled the following helpful tips to point you in the best direction for how to prepare your paintings for long-term storage.


Understanding the possible hazards

Changes in temperature, humidity, oily hands, intense light, unsafe packaging – these are all potential hazards to paintings, which you need to be cognizant of when you are preparing your paintings for self-storage.

Always proceed with these possibilities in mind, preparing for the worst, so that when you retrieve your art from storage, they will be in the exact condition you stored them as.


Handling paintings

Paintings must be handled with more care than your average item. Simply grabbing a painting could leave dirt or oil from your hands on the canvas, deteriorating the artwork. Always grab a hold of paintings by their frame only – keep your hands off the canvas.

Of course, if you pack the painting properly, you won’t need to worry about where you’re holding it, except for when you’re taking it down from the wall and wrapping it. There are special painting/mirror boxes that should be used for any valuable artwork.

That said, any painting going into a box still requires the proper packing. The best material to wrap a painting in is a polywrap. These are like tissues, but with about ten times the sheets, and finished with an outer plastic layer. The plastic layer should remain on the outside of the painting when you wrap it, and you should be covering the entire canvas and frame with the polywrap before putting it into the box. Clean paper (not newsprint or soiled paper, which could leave marks on the painting) can act as a substitute if you must, but, if this is the case, then we encourage using a number of sheets of paper to protect the painting as best as possible.

Before putting your poly- (or paper-) wrapped painting into its box though, be sure to cover the bottom of the box with a layer of crushed paper first. With the painting on top of the added paper, it will have extra cushion underneath it in the box. Be sure to jam more crushed paper down the sides of the frame of the painting, and then again on the top of the frame before sealing the box shut.


Moving paintings

When putting your paintings into a truck or other vehicle, always stand them upright. Leaving them lying flat can leave them vulnerable to something falling on top of it or someone even stepping on it. Same goes for when you get it into your storage unit: stand your paintings upright.

Make sure to secure the paintings in the vehicle, as they could be damaged if you leave them to flop around during transportation. Strapping or taping them to the wall of the vehicle is best, but you can also secure them to their place by carefully surrounding them by other items you are moving, keeping a tight load.

If you’ve hired a moving company for the move, then we suggest looking into shipping insurance for expensive items such as paintings. While they may be the experts, that does not mean mistakes cannot be made, and for irreplaceable items like artwork, it really isn’t worth the risk.


Storing your paintings

Paintings require consistent temperatures and moderate humidity to keep their condition. Dry or damp areas are bad places for storing paintings. With this in mind, your best solution is a climate-controlled storage unit, which will hold temperature and humidity to levels that will keep your paintings safe from these hazards.

Items such as refrigerators and washing machines that may still contain water need to be stored in other spaces or kept as far away from paintings as possible. In a similar vein, do not store paintings near anything particularly hot or cold.

In boxes, your paintings are safer than outside of a box, but, regardless, keep them stored upright to prevent the canvas from drooping and from potential falling hazards (as per above). As well, do not store paintings in direct sunlight or under bright lights of any sort, as these too can harm the artworks.


Follow ups

Be sure to follow up on your storage locker every month to ensure pests or rodents have not found their way into the unit. With paintings inside of your unit, such unwelcomed guests can damage more than a mere t-shirt, and you should be sure that nothing like that has occurred.

If you do find an infiltration of this sort, do alert the staff of the facility as soon as possible. At Sentinel Storage, we make your items our business, and we take pride in knowing that we keep your items secure: do not leave something like this to get worse.

We offer storage units of every type and size at Sentinel Storage, and will be happy to work with you to uncover the most suitable unit for your storage needs. Speak with your Sentinel Storage agent today for further advice on long-term storage for paintings, or for any other self-storage question you might have.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *