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Caring for Antique Picture Frames During the Winter Months

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Picture frames can be as valuable as the art or photographs within them, and they can often be passed down from generation to generation. Caring for your frames can become as important as caring for other valuables that can become fragile over time.

During the harsh winter months, your antique picture frames can suffer much like other pieces of wooden furniture or frames within your home. With these tips, you can keep them looking great and out of harm's way winter after winter so that they can last a lifetime.

Don’t store them away. Some people believe that wrapping up treasured frames during the harshest weather months is the best way to keep them restored. However, this is the farthest thing from the truth. Attics can remain too dry, and basements can stay too wet, causing more damage than good. Keeping your frames in an area where you might live, such as your temperature controlled home, is the best way to keep them in great condition.

Give them a good cleaning at the beginning of the season. Vintage picture frames will most likely be made of a type of wood, so they are more vulnerable to the elements. After the dusty fall or spring season, it’s important to give them a good cleaning using cotton swabs and white vinegar. After getting all of the dust and grime off, use a good wood oil will keep the wood in good shape to prevent them from expanding or warping.

Keep them away from heat, extreme cold and moisture. Wood tends to warp over time and can cause damage to their contents, or cause your frame to need expensive repairs. Heat will cause the wood the expand, while cold will cause it to retract. The same is true for too much moisture, so don't keep your frames near a place where steam may be present such as a kitchen or bathroom. Hang your frames where the temperature will always remain neither too hot nor too cold.

Prevent chips and cracks by hanging them away from doors. This can be said for all seasons, but if you have a particularly ornate frame with detailed molding that sticks away from the frame, it’s important to protect it from chipping or cracking. The repairs to this molding can be very expensive and must be done by experts. By hanging your frames away from doors that can be slammed into their sides, or high enough from little hands that may not treat them carefully, you can avoid chipping and cracking. This can also prevent injuries as antique picture frames tend to be much heavier than their modern counterparts. 

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