How to Protect Your Art with Archival Framing
Your custom framing choices make your artwork look good, but did you know they can also help preserve it? Not all framing materials offer the same level of protection when safeguarding your art, so it’s important to know your options. Whether you’re looking to frame a vintage family photograph, an original painting, or a one-of-a-kind textile, we’ll guide you through the best archival framing choices.
When to Choose Archival Framing
Sometimes, long-term preservation is not a primary concern, such as when framing a readily available art print or other easily replaceable artwork. In that case, general-purpose materials will get you the look you want at a lower price point.
But archival framing is the way to go for anything you want to preserve. Some frames, mats, and mounting boards can end up causing discoloration and deterioration of artwork over time. Additionally, certain glazing options will not protect from damage caused by UV rays. So, if you’re framing anything precious or one-of-a-kind, such as a family heirloom or original art, you’ll want to choose archival framing options.
Archival framing products are specially designed to protect artwork from potential damage caused by external sources, framing treatment, or internal factors. Every component of archival framing, from the use of acid-free materials to specific mounting techniques, has been designed to protect and preserve your work for decades to come.
Archival Framing Products
FastFrame carries an extensive selection of archival framing products that can be tailored to meet each project’s specific requirements.
Archival Mat Boards
Standard mats and mounting boards contain acids that can deteriorate artwork over time. The acids come from the degradation of lignin, a component found in wood. Because standard mats and mounting boards are made from wood pulp, the acids from those materials can transfer to artwork, causing discoloration and damage.
Archival, or conservation-quality, mat and mounting boards tackle the acid issue in a few different ways. They are crafted from a special type of cellulose fiber and adhere to rigorous quality standards. Because of this, they are devoid of lignin and acids, offering resistance to fading and bleeding. Some archival mat and mounting boards also contain a unique technology that actively traps gases, keeping them safely away from your artwork.
Metal frames are a great archival option; they are stylish and inherently acid-free. Premium anodized aluminum is especially ideal—this material is considered preservation grade, exceptionally physically stable, and environmentally friendly.
Since wood frames contain lignin, they can also lead to acid damage. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t give a wood frame an archival treatment. Solid wood frames and wood composite options can offer archival-level protection when combined with high-quality, acid-free sealing tape. Affixing the tape to the frame’s rabbet (the area of the overhang where your artwork package sits) creates an essential barrier between the frame and the artwork. This helps prevent acid degradation and contributes to the preservation of your piece.
Protecting your artwork from the degrading effects of UV rays from sunlight and even artificial light sources is essential. Thankfully, many glazing options offer superior UV protection. FastFrame is proud to offer the full range of Tru Vue® glass and acrylic conservation and museum-grade glazing options, all of which provide 99% UV protection.
For maximum archival protection, we recommend Tru Vue® Optium Museum Acrylic®, which also boasts anti-reflective, anti-static, and shatter-resistant properties. If glare from windows and lamps is a concern, Conservation Reflection Control® Glass and Acrylic can reduce it by scattering light. Conservation Clear® Glass and Acrylic are also great options if you simply want UV protection.
Talk to the Pros
As you can see, there are many great options when it comes to archival framing. If you’re unsure which is right for you, visit your local FastFrame. Our professionally trained framers have years of experience with archival framing. They have the knowledge and design expertise to guide you through the entire process. Let us help you protect and preserve your cherished pieces for decades to come.