Artwork, photos, and items of sentimental value are framed from protection. Once the items are in the frame, the job is considered to be done, and the frame is hung to display them.
The conditions frames are displayed in impacts the protection offered. The frame needs protection from a few environmental factors to be able to keep whatever is behind the glass/glazing protected.
3 Things to Protect Framed Items from (and how)
You can either limit sunlight completely by displaying the art well out of the way of windowpanes, or alternatively, provide protection in the form of specialist glazing. The simplest form of protection from sunlight is UV glazing instead of glass. The next best thing is to use blinds to direct sunlight away from the frame.
Before you choose a frame, consider where it will be displayed. If it is going to be on a side table in a conservatory where sunlight is aplenty, there will be no safer alternative but to use a UV filtering acrylic. Without it, the print would be at risk of yellowing, and degrading. Acrylic/plexiglass is lighter than glass, plus it’s anti-static so you’ll have less dusting to do to keep the frame looking pristine.
Too much humidity is never a good thing indoors. It causes condensation to accumulate on windows and mirrors. Elevated humidity over prolonged periods leads to either wet patches on the wall, or peeling wallpaper. Mould and damp become a concern. Next up is rot on the woodwork such as the skirting boards, and the joists they're attached to.
Humidity is highest when the air temperature is coolest. That is in the mornings. If your frames are hung on an exterior wall, pay attention to the condensation on the windowpanes in the morning. If condensation is building on the windows, it's likely to be affecting the walls too.
Protecting the artwork in frames will be the least concern because wet walls need to be addressed to prevent mould and damp, which will certainly damage frames, particularly wood frames.
The ideal humidity range for artwork is 55%. The ideal relative humidity for indoors is 30% to 60%. Anything above 60% can be risky. Do note that the 30% to 60% range is for room humidity.
Spots in a room can have elevated levels, such as around plants as those are consistently transpiring (releasing moisture into the air). As an example, ferns in a hanging basket or a plant pot on a shelf that trails down the side of a photo frame will raise the humidity levels directly around the frame. Spot humidity caused by plants won’t drastically affect the room humidity overall, but it does raise it in the zones where plants are located.
Anything below 40% humidity is dangerous as paper and wood are prone to expanding and contracting. Low humidity can lead to wood frames splintering and paper prints wrinkling. Address condensation problems with a dehumidifier, or open windows to increase airflow. Wood frames and wooden stretcher frames require protection from humidity fluctuations. Just a 10% swing up or down can cause problems. Low humidity dries out wood, and that is what can cause the wood to splinter.
High temperatures go hand-in-hand with humidity because the warmer the air, the drier it is, raising the risk of wood and paper prints expanding and contracting. Even prints in canvas floating frames are likely to need the stretcher bars tightened more frequently if the temperatures are constantly fluctuating because it will lower the humidity.
Light, water, and air temperatures are the three things to protect your frames from. Do that, and your framed items will be protected against yellowing, wrinkling of paper prints, and air pollutants.