Posts Tagged ‘preservation’

When I first placed my diploma in a concrete frame, I worried about any accelerated deterioration.  Since then, I have really tried to research the variables that will help preserve documents, art, and anything else someone may place in a concrete frame. There are a number of factors that will cause your pictures to fade, wear, or deteriorate prematurely.  I wish to discuss some of these factors and provide basic suggestions.

Humidity is the biggest threat to photos and documents.  The Library of Congress states that environments over 60% relative humidity will accelerate deterioration.  It is recommended that photos be stored at 30%-40% RH.  Less humidity is better for long-term storage, but when you consider that very low humidity can also cause skin irritation, difficulty breathing and increased static electricity, it is best to find a happy middle ground.  According to the weather channel, the appropriate range of indoor humidity is between 30%-50%.  Controlling the humidity will keep your photos, and everything else, from mildew, rot and premature decay.

Temperature also affects the lifespan of photos.  The Library of Congress suggests that around 68 degrees is best for around the house.  Colder is better, but no one wants to wear a down jacket inside.  Heat is particularly tough on color prints and causes fading and loss of photo contrast.   Again, there needs to be a balance between photo and human comfort.

Ultra-violet light will sap the life out of photos as well.  UV light will cause photos to become brittle and prone to being damaged easily.  Colors can fade and yellow in the presence of these light rays for a prolonged period of time.  To avoid this, photos can be placed out of sunlight, under safe lighting source, and behind UV filtering glass.  Any one of these remedies could keep your artwork around for future generations.

Acidic environments (pH less than 7) also cause harm to pictures.  This is what I first thought about with my concrete frame.  Concrete is inherently alkaline (pH greater than 7).  That is why it can protect embedded bare steel from rusting for centuries.  This acid-free characteristic makes concrete ideal for storing or displaying photos.