Identifying the Hazards that Can Harm Your Picture and Frame

Don’t you just love your newly hung inline oval frame or that treasured memento you mounted on a display case? Your newly restored photo of your parents set in a vintage picture frame looks just lovely. The bad news, though, is that you are not the only one who is interested in these items. There are vermin, pests and grime that pose a threat to your picture frames. They can cause the deterioration of your photos and memorabilia and when left untreated the damage can be irreparable.

Here are some of them:

  • -Insects and vermin. There are a number of pests that can bore holes, munch at corners and leave stains and marks on the pictures.These pests include:
  • oBook lice. These flat-shaped, grey insects thrive on leather, glue and cloth. This puts mounting, backing material and the edges of the photo at risk.
  • oSilverfish. These thin and long insects are often also found in paper products, as well as glue and other starchy material. They leave small holes.
  • oTermites. Over time, termites can eat the wooden structure of your frames and also leave mud-like stains.
  • -Light and ultra-violet rays. The ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes discoloration and the fading of the image in the photograph, which is irreversible. Extended exposure to UV rays may also cause brittleness in the paper. However, it is not only UV rays that cause damage. Even light from electronic sources (i.e. light bulb or fluorescent light) can cause damage. However, the damage is slower as compared to UV rays.
  • -Humidity. The moisture in the air can cause the picture to stick to the glass. Removing this may do irreparable damage to the photo.
  • -Pollution. Dust, smoke and noxious gases are also hazards to watch out for. These do not just come from outside but also from household materials such as paint, cleaners and adhesives. Even the photographs themselves can emit gases that are harmful to them.
  • -Children and pets. Grimy hands and paws can spell disaster for your frames. Hang valuable picture frames well out of reach (but within adult eye level) of children and pets. If you plan to hang the picture in a child’s room, get acrylic glazing rather than glass.

How to prevent vermin from damaging your picture frames

  • -Invest in archival material. Archival paper and glue for the frame’s matting and backing is more expensive than the paper and glue that is normally used. However, if you want to preserve family heirlooms, a high level of conservation is well worth the investment. Invest in good photo-printing so that the photos are not self-damaging.
  • -Choose glazing that is equipped with UV protection. Glass and acrylic can be treated so that it is able to shield the damaging rays of light. There may be a minimal difference in the clarity of the picture.
  • -Include a protective cover in the picture frame. This cover is optional but helps prevent critters and moisture from getting inside. This also prevents contaminants in polluted air to wreak their own damage.
  • -Dehumidify your home. Get rid of humidity by lowering the moisture content in your home. Make sure that your house is properly ventilated and you can also use a dehumidifier from time to time.
  • -Regularly dust, clean and check your picture frames. From time to time, take the frames down for a quick check. The presence of stains, holes and cracks may mean that vermin may have already found a home inside the picture frame.
  • -Allow a room to “cure”. When repainting a room, do not put back the picture frames as soon as the paint has dried. Rather, wait at least a couple of weeks before you hang the frames back up.
1st May 2014 Eric Morgan

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