How to Protect Your Art from Sunlight

 A painting by UGallery artist Pat Forbes hanging in a client’s home
 A painting by UGallery artist Pat Forbes hanging in a client’s home
 A painting by UGallery artist Pat Forbes hanging in a client’s home

You've found the perfect unique painting to add to your collection. As luck would have it, you've also identified the perfect spot in your home - a vacant wall that is warmly illuminated each day by a pleasing stream of natural sunlight. But wait, didn't you read something about sunlight being damaging to your artworks? Now you're left with the quandary of how to tackle this sun-drenched dilemma. Can you still hang that beloved piece in its favored spot?

You may have noticed a common theme in our recent articles about how to care for your artwork. While some aspects of care vary depending on the mediums utilized to create the art, one piece of advice is universal. Protecting your art and particularly your paintings from heat and sunlight is fundamental in preserving the quality of each individual piece.


How Sun and Heat Can Damage Your Art CollectionSunlight With White Clouds by Lukas From Pexels

Beyond its necessity as a fundamental element of human existence, there are endless reasons why sunlight is good. Plants, food, energy, and mood-boosting vitamin D that are derived from the sun are all things that enhance our lives and provide us with essential fuels for survival. While much of what we experience in the world is made whole and better by sunlight, unfortunately when it comes to our original art, the opposite is true.

Direct sunlight and scorching temperatures can cause a host of issues and problematic implications for your art. The culprits in the equation are the ultraviolet rays (UV rays) which are responsible for damage over time and degrading the quality of our artwork.

Watercolor paintings as well as other works on paper are susceptible to fading as well as color bleaching. However, acrylic paintings and oil paintings, although made with harder pigments, are also at risk of fading when exposed to bright sunlight for long periods of time. Certain types of sculptures such as wood can be negatively impacted by the harsh rays of the sun and should also be treated with care.

While we don't have all the answers, we're going to share what we know to be true about how to care for your art, and that includes what to keep in mind when dealing with the impact of natural sunlight.

Six Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Art From Sun Exposure“Sunshine 1” by UGallery artist Natasha Tayles

1. Avoid Sun Exposure Altogether

While it can be a challenge to limit sunlight and those pesky UV rays, taking steps to eliminate direct exposure will have a huge impact when it comes to protecting your paintings. Make sure you hang your art in locations within your home so that your treasured pieces aren't exposed to bright sunlight. Another valuable tip is to close window shades during certain times of the day when the sunlight is the most focused and intense based on the location of your artwork.


2. Periodically Rotate Your Art

While the most surefire way to prevent damage from sunlight and UV rays is to avoid them altogether, this isn't always practical. One way to mitigate the impact of an overabundance of natural light is to periodically rotate the art pieces within your home.

Given that some areas of our homes receive more sun than others, considering doing a regular rotation so that no single painting occupies regular residency in the same spot. If you maintain part of your collection in storage, it's a good way to give those works new life while giving others a temporary rest. Not only is this a useful mechanism to help ensure your art stays protected, but it can also keep your home's decor and overall aesthetic fresh and interesting.

3. Mitigate Temperature Fluctuations“Cloudy Afternoon” by UGallery artist Jesse Aldana

This is a pretty simple and straightforward tip. Keep the temperature in your home regulated so as not to expose your artwork to extreme heat (or cold, for that matter).

4. Use High-Quality Framing Materials

We've acknowledged that there are instances when you don't want the sun dictating where you can and cannot hang your artwork. Framing your art with high-quality archival materials is among the best ways to combat the effects of exposure to sunlight in these cases.

With this in mind, the first step is to seek out a professional framing service for the best options to protect your art. Make sure to use a framer who utilizes archival materials such as acid free paper and matting. There is a range of options when it comes to the glass you can select to overlay your artwork, with museum glass being the most resistant to UV rays. This includes the option to protect your art with UV filtering acrylic plexiglass.

Given that canvas is usually ready to hang as an unframed artwork, educate yourself about what types of varnish or sealant have been applied on your oil paintings or acrylic framing surfaces. If you're uncertain about whether the protection is adequate, ask questions to determine if additional treatment of your canvas painting is advisable and necessary.

5. Use Care When Storing Art

We've talked quite a bit about the best ways to store art that you aren't quite ready to hang or that you are preparing to transition to a new location. Temperatures and humidity are major considerations when it comes to the best ways to safely maintain your stored artwork.

With this in mind, prep your art before storing it by utilizing acid free print boxes or another protective packaging. You can find these items at most conservation suppliers. Once you've done the prep, keep your stored artwork separated in a cool, dry, and dark place. In most cases, you will want to store your art flat.

6. Add a Protective Layer to Windows

Now that you've strategically placed, rotated and framed your paintings, there is one additional step you might not have considered. In addition to protective applications to the paintings directly, you can also filter out damaging UV light by incorporating a UV film on your windows in your home. 3M makes a reliable product and there are options on Amazon as well, given you know the required specifications and identify the best options for installation.

While there is no guaranteed way to eliminate the potential impact from natural elements short of keeping your works hidden away, this isn't a desirable option. As art lovers, we purchase art to take in the joy of our collection as part of our daily experience. We hope these simple steps are helpful to prevent and mitigate damage from sunlight and other elements in order to extend the lifespan of your treasured artworks.

Looking to add to your collection of original art?  You can peruse our selection with new art posted weekly.