Rules for Hanging Art In Sunlight

Image via Apartment Therapy
Image via Apartment Therapy

Among the most common concerns expressed from our clients when deciding where to hang their artwork, especially fine, sentimental, or expensive pieces, is in regards to whether or not it will be safe hanging in direct sunlight. Like rugs, upholstery, or curtains, they are worried that placing art in direct sunlight will cause it to warp or fade.

So what’s our verdict for hanging art in sunlight? It depends on the piece.

While the best way to preserve art is to keep it in a cool, dark place for eternity, that’s not usually the best way to enjoy it, and sometimes, sunlight just can’t be solved for in a room that gets certain exposures throughout the day. Instead of leaving the walls of bright rooms bare, we advice to simply choose what you hang there wisely.

Certain works of art can withstand light and sun exposure, while others should never be hung in front of a window under any circumstances. The deciding factor for whether or not your artwork can be hung in direct sunlight is the media and materials it’s created from.

Works that can withstand some sunlight.
Most oil paintings will do just fine in the sun, with very little fading, so long as there is no exposed canvas (sunlight can damage canvas, but not through the oil paint.) Works made from acrylic paint are also resilient and typically can withstand sunlight.

Works that cannot withstand sunlight.
Watercolors should never be hung in direct sunlight, as they are vulnerable to fast fading. The same goes for works on paper and photography, as even most indirect light can cause fading.  This is even the case with frames made of UV plexi glass, since they cannot prevent all sun damage.