Do you have any drawings you made as a child, or a really old newspaper? Chances are the drawing or newspaper is discolored, brittle or cracked; this can be caused by UV damage. If you don’t protect your paintings or photographs, they can end up much like the drawing or newspaper. Once artwork becomes damaged, its value is reduced and it can be very expensive to restore. In most cases of UV damage, the harm is irreversible. Luckily, protecting artwork from UV damage is not very difficult.
What Is UV?
UV stands for ultraviolet light, which is a spectrum of light that is present in sunlight and fluorescent light. This light has more energy than other forms, so it works more quickly at deteriorating artwork. It does this by breaking down the fibers in the photo or painting’s paper and canvas. Paper, however, is much more susceptible and needs more protection than paintings on canvas.
This form of light will also cause the paints or pigments used in the artwork to fade or discolor.
Frame to Protect
The best protection can start before you even hang your artwork. Framing your artwork properly can go a long way towards protecting it from UV damage. Be sure to have your framer use UV -blocking glass or plastic that is non-glare. This not only protects your artwork, but allows you to view the artwork without light glaring off of the glass.
Change Your Lighting
Another step to protecting your artwork is, of course, changing the lighting in your home. Replace all fluorescent lights with low lumen lighting. Lumen is the amount of light emitted from a bulb. It is measured in lux, which is the level of light that is projected from the bulb equal to one lumen per square meter. Look for bulbs with a lumen level of, at most, 55 lux. Incandescent or LED bulbs are your best choice.
You also need to keep your artwork away from direct sunlight. Hang your artwork on a wall that is far from open windows and especially not on one that receives direct sunlight. If keeping your artwork away from windows isn’t possible, consider having your windows covered with a UV filtering film that blocks the UV rays from entering the home. When installed correctly, these films do not alter the view or levels of light coming through the window, unless you want them to as they come in a variety of tints and colors.
Keep Your Lighting Low
Unfortunately, no matter what lighting you choose, all lighting fixtures emit some UV light. In addition to choosing the right bulbs, you should also use as little light as possible around the artwork. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to walk around in the dark. It simply means that you may want to think twice about installing wall sconces or painting lights that illuminate the painting or photo around the clock.
Limit the Heat
It is important to note that when you are choosing your lighting, you should consider the amount of heat the lighting emits. Heat is also very destructive to paintings and photos, making it very important to keep any bulbs as far away from the artwork as possible. Also, if your artwork is near an open window, you may want to consider a UV film that has a tint to it to make the light emitted through the window less intense and cooler.
Remember, while the artwork may add a decorative flare to your home, it also is an investment. It should be protected as much as possible from the ravaging effects of UV light.