Tips for Safely Storing Oil Paintings

At Hollywood Storage Center (HSC), we recently had the pleasure of assisting a talented local artist named Dave. His vibrant collection of oil paintings had outgrown the confines of his studio space. With plans to showcase and sell these paintings at a gallery in a few months, Dave needed a storage solution that would keep his precious artwork in pristine condition. That’s where we stepped in to lend a hand. We introduced Dave to our vault storage units—a temporary haven for his stunning masterpieces.


Dave’s situation highlights the importance of proper storage for oil paintings. Whether you’re storing your child’s first masterpiece or a cherished art collection, we understand the need to protect your paintings.


To assist you in safeguarding your artwork during storage, here’s a preview of the oil painting storage tips we’ll be sharing:


  1. Proper handling and transportation
  2. Packaging materials and things to keep in mind
  3. Airflow and temperature control
  4. Advantages of vertical storage
  5. Why renting a storage unit can be the right solution, along with the options available at HSC.


Handle & Transport with Care

Handling and transporting your artworks can be a breeze if you follow a few guidelines.


Here are a few moving tips from the oil painting conservation staff at The Henry Ford:


  • Ensure the paintings are securely bracketed into their frames with strong wiring to support their weight and size.
  • Remove protruding hardware and wiring before storing with other paintings so as not to cause tears and scratches.
  • Remove all jewelry, belt buckles, etc., before moving the painting to prevent accidental damage.
  • Grasp paintings from both vertical sides to ensure secure handling.
  • Avoid holding paintings at the top of the frame or by the hanging wire.
  • If your painting is large or heavy, ensure you have extra hands and a guide for assistance.
  • Be mindful of surroundings to prevent furniture or sharp corners from bumping or puncturing the painting during the move.
  • Never drag the painting; always lift and carry it carefully.
  • Some paintings may require a padded crate for safe handling across long distances.


Shield from the Elements

To keep your oil paintings in top condition, make sure to store them in a stable environment. Avoid locations with extreme temperatures, such as hot and humid areas or very cold rooms, as these conditions can affect the paint layers and loosen the canvas.


Here are the preferred conditions your storage area should offer to preserve your artworks:


  • Store canvas paintings in a dark, dry room to protect them from sensitivity to light.
  • Maintain a constant temperature between 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, ideally not exceeding 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep paintings away from heat sources like furnace vents, fireplaces, warm lights, and direct sunlight.


Packing Your Paintings

Once you’ve found the right environment for your paintings, next you’ll need to pack them to keep them safe while in storage.


Consider these packing tips to keep your paintings protected:


  • Store unmounted paintings horizontally on acid-free paper or cardboard inside a portfolio or box made specifically for paintings.
  • For framed paintings, wrap them in tissue paper or a breathable material, ensuring adequate padding and support with items like bubble wrap or Styrofoam.
  • Avoid completely wrapping paintings in plastic as it can trap harmful humidity. Once wrapped, place framed paintings in a sturdy cardboard box with individual boxes being ideal; use cardboard dividers if consolidating. This setup allows the paintings to breathe while staying protected.
  • For space-savings, sandwich wrapped paintings between cardboard or foam core sheets, securing with tape to avoid contact with the surface.


Stacking Paintings in Storage

After safely packing your paintings, the next step is ensuring they are stacked and stored properly.


Here are some important things to keep in mind:


  • Framed paintings should be stored vertically on sliding racks, whereas unframed pieces can temporarily lay flat, but monitor for canvas sagging.
  • When leaning paintings against a wall, use padding or blocks to prevent skidding and damage. When stacking paintings, group them by size, and orient face-to-face and back-to-back with a larger cardboard sheet in between for added protection.
  • For canvas paintings, stand them vertically with dividers inside a box, rack, or storage bin to prevent surface contact.
  • Stretched canvas pieces should also be stored vertically to minimize dust accumulation and potential distortion. Place a thin fabric or tracing paper layer between artworks for added protection.


Labeling and Documentation


When it comes to storing multiple paintings, organization is key.


Here are some tips to help you keep track of your artwork collection:


  • Label each painting with essential information such as the artist’s name, artwork title, date, and any other important details so you remember which is which.
  • For even greater organization, create a detailed inventory document. Ensure that each labeled painting corresponds accurately with its entry on your list. For a structured and easily accessible record of your art collection, include information such as dimensions, medium, and storage instructions.
  • Snap photographs of your paintings in their storage location for personal records and insurance purposes, providing valuable proof of your collection in case of emergencies.


Consider Renting a Storage Unit

If your home doesn’t have optimal storage conditions, renting a climate-controlled unit from Hollywood Storage Center is a wise choice. Even in Newbury Park’s generally mild climate, a temperature-controlled unit can come in handy. It offers assurance that your artwork is safe in a stable environment, shielded from unpredictable weather conditions.


Hollywood Storage Centers offers two types of climate-controlled solutions suitable for storing oil paintings:


The Vault

If you’re storing artwork of significant monetary or sentimental value, you may prefer the enhanced security features offered by The Vault. This protected area of our facility houses a selection of double-bolted climate-controlled storage units. These vault units, like a bank safe deposit box, require dual key access for added protection of your most treasured items. Unit sizes range from 3x3ft to 10x5ft and can be accessed during main office hours from 8:30 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.

Climate-Controlled Storage

If you’re considering storing a larger art collection or a mix of items along with your paintings, you may prefer our traditional climate-controlled storage units. These units have extended access hours from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm, 7 days a week, and offer a larger array of unit sizes from 4x10ft to 10x20ft.


Proper storage is vital for protecting your oil paintings and preserving their beauty for years to come. By following our experts’ tips, you can ensure that your artwork is handled, packed, and stored with care. It’s a bonus if you’re able take the time to label your paintings, maintain accurate inventory lists, and document their storage location. This will make it so much easier to access your paintings whenever you need them in the future.


If your home lacks suitable storage conditions, consider renting a climate-controlled unit from Hollywood Storage Center. Whether opting for The Vault for extra security or a traditional climate-controlled storage unit, you can trust Hollywood Storage Center to provide a safe and stable environment for your valuable artwork. Reserve your unit online or call us today for a free quote to safeguard your oil paintings with confidence.