Your picture frames carry priceless memories. They are also a considerable investment, especially if you have a collection (antique picture frames, contemporary frames, etc.) for a gallery display. With a little TLC, you can actually extend the lives of your picture frames (and your photos, too!). When you have new memories to display, you can simply reuse the frame.
Here are some things you can do to take care of your picture frames:
Keep away from moisture and direct sunlight. These can do considerable damage to your picture frame. Over time, exposure to light and heat can cause fading, cracking and warping on the wood and the finishing of the frame. Direct sunlight also results in faded and brittle photos. Meanwhile, moisture can result in the build-up of mold and mildew, which can weaken the frame’s support base. Moisture can also cause the photo (and even the matting) to stick to the glazing. Thus, when looking for a place in which to hang your picture frames, choose a spot that is away from air conditioning vents and is not directly facing a window.
Go for acrylic glazing. For oversized frames, especially vintage picture frames that tend to have wide moldings, acrylic glazing can lessen the overall weight of the frame. Since acrylic is lighter than glass, the frame does not have to “work hard” to support the overall weight. Also, if ever the frame is dropped or is mishandled, the shatterproof quality of the acrylic glazing prevents further damage to the frame, as well as to the photo inside it.
Allow your frame to “breathe”. Even frames need some breathing space. Even if you hang the frame away from heat or air conditioning sources, extreme temperature changes can cause condensation, which in turn results in moisture buildup inside the frame. If the frame is totally sealed, this moisture is trapped inside the frame and will eventually seep into the photo and the other framing materials. Before framing, check that the backing board is sealed with breathable material such as paper tape.
Practice proper cleaning procedures. Regularly give your frames a light dusting using soft wool or a feather duster. If the frame is fitted with acrylic glazing, use a soft cloth to clean the surface. Harsh brushes can scratch the acrylic, which is shatterproof but is especially vulnerable to scratching. Also, when using spray cleaner, be sure to remove the photo first before you clean. Rather than spraying directly onto the surface of the frame, spray the cleaner onto a soft, lint-free cloth, which you can then use to give the surfaces a wipe-down. With a gentle rubbing motion, get rid of smudges, fingerprints and dust build-up. Then, make sure that the glass is totally dry (with no remaining cleaner residue) before you re-frame the photo.
Store frames properly. Store frames upright, and never one on top of the other. Wrap each frame with bubble wrap to prevent scratching the glazing. If you have to put the frame face down, be sure to first place a towel or a blanket on the surface where you will lay the frame down.