Is there a particular coating that I should be using to protect a watercolor painting?

And what is the best storage option for preserving paintings?

  • 3
    What are you hoping to protect them from exactly? Dust, water, the sun, cracking, all of the above?
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 19:55
  • How can I preserve them the best. From storage to coatings to whatever else. I suppose all of the above.
    – Tim Penner
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 19:57

3 Answers 3


There are a couple of things that will definitely work to help preserve displayed paintings:

  1. Paint quality. If you want the paint to remain vibrant over time, then you get what you pay for. Artist/professional grade paints are substantially more lightfast than student or children's paints. So, if you want it to stick around better, get the good paint.
  2. Ultraviolet light protection. If you're going to display your work, display under UV filtering glass. This helps to preserve the colors from damaging light and, as an added bonus, protects from the touch of errant fingers. :)

You can also get UV archival fixative sprays that are suitable for watercolor work. It's not terribly common to do that, but becoming more prevalent amongst those that don't want glass in front of their painting. My general take is that if the paper gets dusty over time, dulling the color, it's harder to clean than glass... Mind you, for storage long term, it makes a lot of sense to consider.


Tips from Artists & Illustrators:

Before storing your work, take the time to ensure it is as you want to find it. Remove any unwanted pencil lines, or carefully dampen a piece of kitchen towel to lift off fingerprints. Put a date on the back if you haven’t already and place it in layers of acid-free tissue paper. When it comes to looking after and even framing your paintings, it is worth remembering that paper is a fragile, sensitive material. Always store your work horizontal and fl at; a plan chest is clearly ideal. Nothing detracts from a painting more than tatty edges and bashed corners. Never store watercolours in plastic sleeves, such as the ones sold as portfolio pages, as this will ruin the paint surface. As for framing your work, there are obviously lots of personal choices you can make with regards to the frame, mount colour and so on, but let me end with my three golden rules in the column opposite.

3 Golden Rules for Preserving Watercolours

  1. Keep a gap between the glass and artwork A window mount that conceals the very edges of your work will do this, by the minimum 2mm. If you are planning to just attach your painting to the frame’s backing board, you will need small wooden fillets to create this minimum breathing space.
  2. Avoid masking tape or sellotape It will rapidly stain the paper and cause irreparable damage. Any good art shop will stock PH-neutral, waterbased adhesive and archival tape.
  3. Choose where you hang your work carefully Avoid areas of humidity (such as bathrooms and kitchens) and places that will experience extremes of hot and cold, such as just above radiators, or on the inside of exterior walls. Watercolours will fade if hung in direct sunlight too. Modern pigments are far less fugitive nowadays, but careful hanging is still vital to their longevity
  • 2
    Hi B.Martini, it appears that you copied this answer from here. You're using someone else's work without giving the author credit. This amounts to plagiarism, and is not welcome on Stack Overflow. Remember to always add prominent attribution when using other sources.
    – walrus
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 13:31
  • Yeah, copying without giving credit is not nice, but +1 for this being the only answer containing advice about avoiding direct sunlight.
    – Levente
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 17:08

After I complete a watercolor painting on paper, I seal it with 3-4 coats of Krylon GLOSS UV-Resistant Acrylic Coating. I don't like the finish of the MATTE coating (plus, it dulls metallics). I use light coats and let each dry at least 30 minutes

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