FAQ: How to Care for Paintings on Wood Panels

 A seemingly endless variety of mediums and surface materials can be used as a canvas for art. Whether it’s linen, jute, metal, paper, cotton, or hemp, each substrate offers something original and each should be given individual consideration when it comes to caring for our art.

One of the oldest mediums used as a canvas or foundation for art is wood, such as paintings on wood panels. We have an affection for the unique qualities and nature-based elements of art on wood and are fortunate to represent artists for whom it is their specialty.


 An Overview of Art on Wood Panels

Many iconic artists of the Renaissance movements such as Botticelli and Raphael frequently created on wood panels, though the origination of the practice tracks further back to the 2nd or 3rd century. 

When people think of wood art, sculptures may come to mind, however wood grain surfaces can serve as an interesting substrate for paintings as well. Much of what is utilized by artists for today's wood panels is engineered in order to create a stable foundation for applying a pigmented medium. There are different products with a variety of weights and densities which are utilized by modern-day artists who paint on wood. Though artists aren't limited in the types of paint they utilize, oil paint and acrylic paints are common choices for creating wood panel art. 

The process for creating art on wood is similar to metal in many ways, in that artists take steps for proper preparation of the wood and protection of the completed art. This may include lightly sanding and priming the wood canvas for a smooth surface, as well as sealing the artwork.

As it relates to art on wood, the possibilities are endless. This can be as straightforward as a more traditional painting on wooden panels or as unique as skateboard decks transformed into colorful cultural masterpieces.

If caring for your art on wood has you "stumped," we're reviewing some common questions, as well as what we've discovered about art on wood surfaces and how to preserve and mitigate issues associated with these special pieces.

Frequently Asked QuestionPhoto by Angelo Giordano from Pixabay

How Should You Store Your Wood Panel Art?

While promptly displaying your newly acquired wood panel art is ideal, sometimes for various reasons it isn't possible. In this case, protecting paintings on wood requires proper storage. We often recommend storing fine art flat but the opposite is true with wood panel art. Instead, store your art on wood in a vertical position to protect the wood from warping. This can be accomplished by leaning your art against a wall to ensure the artwork remains upright and stable. As a best practice, when leaning your artwork on the floor and against a wall, ensure your wood panel art makes contact with the wall at the top points and the floor on the bottom on an even plane.

Temperatures and humidity are a consideration when it comes to storage as well, so be deliberate when you identify and choose a place to stash your wood art. Protect the painting surface by layering your works with acid-free paper.


How Should You Display Your Wood Art“In Walked Bud” acrylic painting on wood by UGallery artist Janine Etherington

As with many mediums we've discussed, the main consideration for displaying your wood art is exposure to the elements, such as fluctuating temperatures and high humidity.

Whether it's oil paintings or wood art crafted with an acrylic paint application, hang your wooden panel paintings in rooms where the temperature is maintained at reasonable levels and for which there aren't dramatic relative humidity fluctuations. When picking the perfect spot to hang your artwork, avoid walls that receive direct sunlight.

When it comes to artificial light, avoid ultraviolet-producing sources in the rooms where you display your art. UV-producing sources include halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent bulbs. Instead, opt for LED bulbs for spaces in which you showcase your original art.

If your wood panel art is particularly heavy, hang it with care, utilizing reinforcing mechanisms with a balanced weight distribution.“Forest Green” acrylic painting on wood by UGallery Artist Candice Eisenfeld

How Should You Clean and Care for Your Wood Art?

In recent articles, we've talked about gentle cleaning solutions for your art. Not unlike a traditional painting, cleaning your art on wood panels should incorporate similar techniques. A light wipe with a soft-bristled brush should do the trick for a surface layer of dust, but if the artwork requires a higher level of care, you have some additional DIY options.

Utilizing a mixture of warm water and dish soap is a common approach. Apply the sudsy combination with a soft microfiber cloth but be careful to protect the paint surface. It’s a good idea to use an additional microfiber cloth to gently wipe the surface afterward to remove excess moisture and maintain a dry exterior. 

If an artwork has been damaged by pollutants such as cigarette smoke, fireplace smoke, or insects, seek professional guidance as it relates to cleaning and restoration. As with other mediums we’ve discussed, when in doubt it is always best to consult a credible art restoration expert.

Final Observations

Original artworks are treasured heirlooms that can and should be enjoyed by future generations.  Using care in how we maintain our artworks goes a long way toward ensuring they can be enjoyed and appreciated as legacy pieces, which certainly holds true for our art and paintings on wood panels.

If you’re in the market for paintings on wood or other original works, we have a continuously updated selection by talented artists. You can peruse these artworks which are updated weekly on our website.