By Patrick Galvan,

After working on canvas paintings for months, the last thing you want is for your artwork to get damaged, especially if selling your work is a major source of income. Unframed canvas paintings are susceptible to color fading and scratches when stored with other items in a closet, basement, or garage—and, worse, they can be badly warped by high temperature and humidity. That’s why it’s important to store them somewhere safe.

With a climate-controlled storage unit at a nearby self storage facility, you can store your unframed canvas paintings to ensure that they’re in good shape when you go to sell them.

Below are some tips for properly prepping your paintings for storage and moderating the temperature and humidity levels in a climate-controlled storage unit.

Prepping Canvas Paintings for Storage

Even the smallest things, like dust and dirt, can damage your paintings while they’re in storage, which is why you need to cover your paintings, keep your hands off of the canvas, and store paintings in the proper containers.

According to John Rogers, owner of Gallery 72 in Omaha, Neb., artwork needs protection from dust and dirt, which can damage the paint (especially oil paints) on canvas. That’s why Rogers suggests using loose plastic to cover canvas paintings, as it allows enough air circulation without letting dust or dirt in.

When covering canvas paintings, make sure not to touch the surface of the canvas since the oils on your hands can damage the paint as well. If you must touch a painting’s surface, wear gloves made of 100% cotton—never use latex or any other kind of non-slip material, as these can easily rub off layers of paint.

As for storing unframed canvas paintings in specific preservation containers, Rogers suggests rolling large paintings and storing them in diameter tubes, which prevents crushing or distortion. Smaller paintings, however, can be kept in flat file cabinets with a layer of archival paper or foam board between them.


Keep Paintings in Climate-Controlled Storage

Despite keeping your paintings in diameter tubes or flat file cabinets, they can still be vulnerable to extreme temperature and humidity levels, which can deteriorate paint and make canvas buckle. For this very reason, you should never keep your artwork anywhere besides a self storage unit equipped with climate control.

Climate-controlled storage is a great feature to have when storing paintings because it allows you to monitor and maintain the temperature and humidity levels of your unit. Storage renters around the nation use climate control on a daily basis to protect sensitive items, including electronics, antiques, wooden crafts, and—you guessed it—artwork.

“Any [unframed canvas painting] should be stored between 70-75° with about 50% relative humidity,” says Vanessa Amor, Business Manager of Museo Vault Fine Art Storage. She adds that these conditions match standards set by the art insurance industry and museum associations.

Although climate-controlled units are typically more expensive to rent than standard units, the additional cost is worth the peace of mind you’ll have when storing your life’s work.

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