How to minimise picture frame damage
16 May 2013
The quality of modern picture frames vary enormously from cheap frames made of plastic, laminated MDF or aluminium to expensive ornate, gilded or one–off frames.
We all love seeing pictures and works of art hung in the Galleries of the world and in some cases been lucky enough to have seen these in the castles and estates of Europe using the original picture hanging systems with decorative chains etc.
Traditionally large, heavy, beautifully carved handmade frames were commissioned for paintings of statutory figures and hung using a picture hanging system for a couple of reasons:
- The building materials available varied in quality and consistency meaning plaster walls would crumble easily under any pressure, giving inconsistent fixing points.
- The glues used in the manufacture of the frames though of high quality had a shorter life span than that of the glues available to professionals today. This meant that the weak points in each corner of a picture frame caused by the weight would split. Picture hanging systems were used to prolong the life of the frame and spread the load across a wider area of wall.
With this in mind it is important to preserve frames and the much loved images within them. Choosing the right picture hanging system is a good way to help this and here's why:
If a 10kg picture is hung using a picture rail with two hangers and two hooks that are attached to the D-rings on either side then there is a direct pull upwards dividing that 10kgs to 5kgs on either D–ring (first diagram). If a wire is used and tied between the two D–rings then hung on a single hook this will increase the pressure enormously on each of the D–rings as the angle of that wire decreases to 0 degrees amplifying the pressure on not only the corners of the frame leading to corner splitting but also creating a warping affect to the overall frame due to the pressures involved. Refer to the pictures below for actual weight increase examples:
In all cases we recommend the use of two hangers and hooks for each picture. Not only will this keep everything straight and more stable but it will help to preserve the frame of the picture or canvas being hung from frame-twist/warping also helping to prevent the corners from opening up.
By Luke Norman