Should you frame watercolor paintings with glass?

What is the best way to frame a watercolor painting in order to ensure its longevity? Learn  how to do it right!

Watercolor paintings should be framed with glass to protect them from dust, damage, and especially humidity. In humid conditions, watercolor may be damaged over time because it is water soluble. The glass should also be UV protected so that the artwork can be protected from the sun. It’s still a good idea to hang it out of direct sunlight!

framed pictures and paintings

When should you frame a painting?

Generally, watercolor paintings are rarely hung up. The majority of these are just stored somewhere and don’t get seen as much as acrylic and oil paintings do.

Nevertheless, they can be beautiful to look at and a great decoration.

If you want to hang a painting up, it would be a good idea to frame it first, so that it will be protected over time.

It is sufficient to keep it in a dry, out of the sun drawer when you are only intending to store it.

What is the best way to frame the artwork?

You should definitely opt for a frame that is rather subtle as it should complement and not distract from the painting. Black or white will work just fine.

It is definitely a good idea to use real glass rather than plastic to protect your paintings, as plastic can degrade over time, causing the painting to appear blurry.

Use a UV glass to protect your watercolor painting from the sun if you can. 

In addition, you might consider spacing the painting a little bit away from the glass with an archival mat border. Here’s why this is so important.

What is the threat to a watercolor painting?

Dust, humidity, and ultraviolet light are the three biggest dangers to watercolor paintings.

It is definitely a good idea to frame your artwork in order to keep it dust-free. A protection of this kind should be adequate.

Furthermore, this prevents the watercolor painting from becoming damaged by the humidity in the air, as  watercolor is water-soluble. 

Nonetheless, you must make sure that the artwork doesn’t mold, so make sure to keep it a distance from the  glass. Archival mat borders are the best option, as they also improve the quality of a painting.

It is probably the most important to have UV protected glass, since UV rays can quickly damage your paintings. The paper will turn yellow and the colors will become dull and lack intensity when exposed to a large amount of sunlight.

The importance of UV-protected glass

As we’ve discussed before, sunlight is extremely harmful to paintings. Gradually, the paper will change its color, which will also affect the colors.

Since this is irreversible, it is hard to restore a watercolor painting, as opposed to restoring an oil or acrylic painting.

Make sure as little UV light as possible reaches the painting when hanging  it up to ensure its longevity.

The best place to hang the painting up

No matter what the glass is made of, you should be careful where you hang up the painting. 

UV protected glass cannot protect you from sunlight completely, so never hang it up  in direct sunlight. 

It is always best to let the light bounce off of another wall first before hitting the painting, this will ensure its longevity.

Check the room’s humidity as well. It should not have a high air humidity as that might  negatively affect the painting in the future. Mold and buckling could occur when too much moisture is present.

When hanging an artwork, it’s best to hang it at eye-level, since this is the easiest way to see it.

Make sure it doesn’t stand out too much in the room if it’s just supposed to be a decorative feature. The color scheme should go with the rest of the decor, and the frame should not stand out too much.

If you really want to show off the artwork, you should find a unique place for it. It should stand out from the rest of the room without being overly distracting.

The artwork might even look nicer if a picture light is installed above it to provide a good amount of light.


Frames add extra value to a painting, as long as they don’t detract from the painting, but rather  enhance it. You should use a UV-protected glass to protect it from sunlight, but avoid hanging it up directly in the sun. Check the humidity level of the air beforehand, as high humidity might cause the painting to mold and buckle.

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