How does light cause UV damage to artwork?

by | Preservation

D amage from ultra violet light is the number one problem we see from clients who’ve had something framed by amateurs or uninformed picture framers.

UV rays – a shortened term typically used to describe ultraviolet radiation fades artwork by breaking the chemical bonds of color molecules – known as photolysis. The more color molecules that break apart, the more the image fades.

UV energy also ruins art and photographs by photo-oxidation, which can cause photographic prints to yellow or get brittle over time.

UV damage to artwork is irreversible; it’s easily prevented, but virtually incurable, and it’s not just sunlight to watch for; fluorescent lights are a close second in terms of UV rays!

The best way to prevent UV damage is to simply use glazing (glass) that filters out at least 97% to 99% of UV light.

This doesn’t automatically mean your art or framed items are framed to conservation standards, but if the UV radiation is filtered out you’ve taken a significant step in protecting them.


For more information on UV damage to artwork be sure to get our FREE:

The Consumer’s Guide to Picture Framing – 7 Things you NEED to Know!

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  1. Jasmine Hewitt

    I’ve had a few portraits become faded due to UV rays, but i didn’t know there was a way to prevent it!

    • Karla Elder

      It’s quite insidious…

  2. Sara Wright

    I never considered UV damage to be an issue. I have several framed pictures in my dining room which is near a sunroom in our home. I noticed last year that they seemed to have a weird hue to them but I had thought it was just the lighting and my eyes because we got new bulbs. The pictures were definitely altered and I didn’t see it until we decided to start painting a week ago and I had to move them to the garage. I am glad to know they make glass to help prevent this, I will be looking into getting better frames!

    • Karla Elder

      Hope you caught it before too much damage was done!!

  3. Dianne

    I just downloaded the consumer guide, it is fantastic! I am a bit of an art buff and started buying items the past 2 years at auctions and online. I wanted to make sure I had the best framing I could get for them and the glass never even occurred to me to be an issue. I am glad I learned this now before going out and spending a fortune on frames!

    • Karla Elder

      Thanks Dianne!


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