How to Care for Your Acrylic on Canvas Paintings

Most of us who purchase original art treat these valuable works as heirloom pieces that our kids and grandkids will cherish beyond our own lifetimes. Although not much in life is guaranteed, using reasonable care, you should be able to expect that the quality of your paintings will endure for future generations to enjoy. This is true of your acrylic paintings on canvas as well, and we're glad to offer a few tips for ensuring their longevity.

Developed in the mid-20th century, acrylics are a relative newcomer among popular art mediums. Acrylic paintings on canvas create similar aesthetics as oil paintings but unlike oils, the acrylic paint is less likely to crack, wrinkle, flake, or otherwise weaken over time. Acrylic is a fairly sturdy medium. Additionally, the stretched canvas is a much more durable media on which acrylic paints are applied as compared to works on paper. But what does the sturdiness of acrylic paintings mean for the care of your original acrylic on canvas artwork? Let’s take a closer look at the options for caring for your acrylic paintings.


To Frame or Not to Frame“Summer Storm” acrylic painting on stretched canvas by UGallery artist Patrick Duffy

When it comes to whether or not to frame your acrylic painting, you may find differing opinions about the best approach. Unlike watercolors or pastels, framing acrylic paintings under glass isn't essential to protect the artwork because the acrylic medium is permanent once it dries and the paint surface cannot be easily damaged as compared to some art mediums. The fact that acrylic paint is usually applied to canvas surfaces which are then stretched and mounted also factors into the decision given that canvas is sturdier than the paper typically used for watercolor and pastel paintings.

Many experts agree that acrylic paintings do not require framing and mounting under glass given their more durable nature. Additionally, some art owners prefer the clean look of the unframed canvas for showcasing their acrylic paintings.

On the other hand, if your personal preference is to frame your acrylic painting, keep in mind a couple of considerations. Moisture becoming trapped under the glass is cause for concern with your acrylic paintings, which is one reason many people prefer leaving them unframed. Also, there may be a slightly distorted perception of the art given the reflective nature of the glass. As an alternative, if you appreciate the aesthetics of the solid frame, you can frame your acrylic artwork without a glass overlay. Float frames that encompass the outer edges of your canvas are a great option for providing a solid outline for your paintings that is visually pleasing without the unnecessary inclusion of glass.

The Acrylic Cleaning QuandaryPhoto by SHVETS production from pexels

The reality is that because of their softer texture, acrylic paintings are very susceptible to gathering dust, which easily adheres to the acrylic paint. While we know that a glass barrier isn't necessary for protecting your art, in addition to preventive care, the question remains about the best way to clean your unframed canvas acrylic painting of surface dust.

Cleaning your acrylic paintings is another subject for which diligent research may result in the discovery of many differing opinions. Some say you should avoid dusting or cleaning your acrylic works altogether because there can be a negative impact on your paintings. Other art industry experts indicate that using a soft cloth to gently wipe your canvas painting shouldn't significantly affect its condition.


While we agree that you should use care and be extremely cautious about cleaning your acrylic paintings, some processes will be more gentle than others. We are of the school of thought that advises against using most over-the-counter cleaning products, or any abrasive sponges or cleaning tools for cleaning your fine art. If your acrylic art is in dire need of a wipe-down, use a gentle cloth with a small amount of a liquid mixture of water and olive oil-based soap to give it a light once over. Compressed air which can be purchased in cans from a local office supply store is another viable option for ridding your acrylic painting surfaces of dust.

Important Disclaimer: We aren't experts on restoring art and are only sharing tips for cleaning that we've garnered through research. If you are apprehensive about cleaning your acrylic paintings, don't hesitate to seek out the expertise of a professional restorer who specializes in the various art mediums.

Safer Storage and DisplayPhoto by Alena Shekhovtsova

Forgive us for repeating ourselves, but not unlike our previous warnings with regard to watercolor and pastel art, your fine art including acrylic paintings should be protected from exposure to ultraviolet light. Acrylic paintings are particularly vulnerable to heat. Do not hang or store your artwork where it may be in harm's way due to direct sunlight. The same is true for avoiding areas prone to moisture and humidity to avoid issues such as mold growth, which can be a problem with acrylic paintings.

If for some reason you need to store your acrylic paintings for a period of time, keep them in a dry, cool environment. You should layer your individual acrylic paintings in glassine paper and store them vertically as opposed to laying flat. For the best protection, packaging your artwork in a box is an ideal solution.

We hope you’ve found value in these tips about caring for your acrylic paintings. If you’re in the market for additional acrylic works, check out our selection of original acrylic paintings as well our variety of new art posted weekly.