What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

Be Careful Putting Fine Art On Exterior Walls

I have heard for some time that fine art can be damaged by temperature variances on exterior walls.  And think about it.  Your art is essentially providing a thermal break between the warmer air inside your house and the very cold temps outdoors.

But we have insulation!  Yes, you probably do.  And it might be well placed and sufficient.  But a thermal break is just that and moisture can develop.

Case in point.  The bottom of this image is the warm bed frame in a master bedroom.

On the wall above the bed was hanging a large mirror.  Cooler temperatures are defined by lavender and purple.  You can see the defined cooler lines along the edges and on the corners at the bottom where the mirror was hanging.  As the mirror hung the lower half and corners touched the wall.

The top of the lavender/purple area is less defined because, we know, as something hangs on the wall the top is further away.  Things hang at an angle.

Two surprises -

1.  The purple line on the left is a wall stud and is 46F!

2.  The back side of the mirror had mold on it!  Not a lot, but mold nonetheless.  And this mirror was hanging over the bed!

If you live in a climate with wide temperature variances, hot or cold, and have fine art, don't think it cannot be damaged by hanging on an exterior wall.  It can!  This was a mirror, not fine art, but BEWARE!

My recommendation:  place your finer art pieces on interior walls that do not experience wide temperature swings.  It is less likely to be damaged by condensation, warping, or mold.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 31 commentsJay Markanich • December 20 2010 08:36AM

Comments

Always nice to learn something when visiting your posts.  Good morning Jay.  Merry Christmas.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) almost 8 years ago

Thanks Ken.  We all are learning things.  I had previously heard that fine art should not be placed on exterior walls, but it was interesting to see why!  That's quite a temperature variance.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Absolutely something I never had heard or considered, Jay.

Thanks for today's lesson!

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) almost 8 years ago

Well, Mike, now you can pass the quiz!  I think this is question 17.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

I just did some painting at home and was thinking about where to hang my pictures.  Your post has given me a lot to think about. Thanks for this!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) almost 8 years ago

We are here to serve Kathryn!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jay,

This is very valuable information. Thanks for your example and explanation of the use of thernmal imaging.

Brian

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) almost 8 years ago

Jay,

I never would have thought of this!  Thanks for the photo illustration.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 8 years ago

Brian - I am hoping that this kind of thing is useful!  I think it is.

Mike - those images are very definitive.  And it makes sense that moisture would build up.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jay - Great advice for art lovers/owners who might never consider the possibilities for damage.  I guess I'd better find some alternate locations for all my "paint-by-numbers" art.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) almost 8 years ago

Your posts are a wealth of information.  I enjoy your sharing of your skill of thermography!  The pictures really tell a story, and your words do too!

Posted by Cara Marcelle Mancuso, Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY (Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ) almost 8 years ago

And fine art that must be John!  Just avoid the outside walls...

Cara - thank you and that is the idea!  We try, we really try...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jay,

That is something I never thought about. When she gets home, I am going to insist that the wife move our original DaVinci, maybe put it by the Picasso at the other wall.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

More proof of the worthlessness of fiberglass batt insulation I'd say.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Jay, I had heard that about not putting pianos on exterior walls, though not the artwork.  It definitely makes sense and is well illustrated by your post.  Our previous home had very little insulation, and I learned to not put beds against the exterior walls of bedrooms because I could feel the heat/cold variations when I was making the beds.  So much to consider that we usually don't think of., isn't there?

Posted by Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale, WendeByTheBay.com - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula (Wende Schoof) almost 8 years ago

Steve - that is the best idea I have heard all day.

For sure Charlie.  Filling it with duct tape not only provides outstanding R-value, but has a built-in vapor retarder.  Personally I don't know what people are thinking.

Wende - thermal cameras can bring to light things we understand but do not realize the extent of.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Yeah, I'll be sure to pass this along to all my art collector and museum curator friends :) I'm agree with Charlie, just another demonstration the worthlessness of fiberglass insulation. (insulation is a term used very loosely with fiberglass).

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jim - it's best installed kind of loose, well not loose, but fluffy, well not fluffy but not tightly packed, well not not tightly packed but completely filling.     ;)

Oh, well.  At least the people were really comfie laying in bed!

Wow, you have museum curator and art collector friends?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

P.s.  I would rather have cellulose in the walls anyway...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Pah-Pah, I lived in a house so damp once, no furniture could go against outside walls. It was tricky arranging the room. Nana

Posted by Kate Kate almost 8 years ago

Where you been Nana?  The dampness here is caused by temperature differences, but some houses are damp for other reasons.  That wasn't in Las Vegas was it?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

No for Pete's sake. It's raining today and there still isn't much humidity. :) It was in Southern California in a house without central heat. One of those post WWII houses.

I have been busy working on my websites and building one for an attorney's office too. I've been out of town mostly since Thanksgiving with family. And then of course there's the flu...

Posted by Kate Kate almost 8 years ago

You flu in the rain to a WWII house to be with an attorney for Thanksgiving and built on a family site there?

Sorry, just trying to follow...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Maybe YOU have the flu! Quit flying so much and see if that helps.

Posted by Kate Kate almost 8 years ago

Jay, Yes cellulose for sure. I also have the Queen of England in my calling circle.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 8 years ago

I will try Nana.

Jim - wow!  Be sure to tell her about the exterior wall thing.  You know how damp those castles can get.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

If I ever get any fine art, I'll remember this tip.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 8 years ago

That wall stud sure was transferring the cold in!

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, Founder, Wrenn Home Improvements almost 8 years ago

Well, Reubs, especially when you get those dogs playing poker or pool.  That is art you want to last.

Jeremy - as heat flows out ALL the walls, transferred to the outdoors, the mirror was holding it there in place behind it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Wow never thought about that. Now of course I have to go upstairs to my bedroom to check for mold behind the painting, BRB.

 

Whew, no mold!

Posted by Vince Santos, Southeast Michigan Home Inspector (StepByStep Home Services LC) almost 8 years ago

Good job Vince!  I hear it gets cold there...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments