Be Careful Putting Fine Art On Exterior Walls

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

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.

 

 

Posted by

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


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Comments 31 New Comment

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Rainmaker
1,209,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

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...

December 20, 2010 10:55 AM
Rainmaker
1,175,950
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

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.

December 20, 2010 11:20 AM
Ambassador
1,063,881
Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

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

December 20, 2010 11:24 AM
Rainmaker
169,003
Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale
WendeByTheBay.com - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula
Wende Schoof

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?

December 20, 2010 12:09 PM
Rainmaker
1,209,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

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.

December 20, 2010 12:40 PM
Rainmaker
625,689
James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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).

December 20, 2010 06:04 PM
Rainmaker
1,209,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

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?

December 20, 2010 06:18 PM
Rainmaker
1,209,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

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

December 20, 2010 06:18 PM
Rainmaker
162,684
Kate Ford
Ask Kate a mortgage question...
Get-Your-Best-Mortgage-Rate.com

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

December 20, 2010 06:36 PM
Rainmaker
1,209,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

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?

December 20, 2010 06:43 PM
Rainmaker
162,684
Kate Ford
Ask Kate a mortgage question...
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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...

December 20, 2010 07:23 PM
Rainmaker
1,209,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

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...

December 20, 2010 07:25 PM
Rainmaker
162,684
Kate Ford
Ask Kate a mortgage question...
Get-Your-Best-Mortgage-Rate.com

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

December 20, 2010 08:46 PM
Rainmaker
625,689
James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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

December 20, 2010 09:00 PM
Rainmaker
1,209,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

I will try Nana.

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

December 20, 2010 09:02 PM
Rainmaker
229,441
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

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

December 20, 2010 09:44 PM
Rainmaker
212,685
Jeremy Wrenn
President, Wrenn Home Improvements
Wrenn Home Improvements

That wall stud sure was transferring the cold in!

December 20, 2010 10:13 PM
Rainmaker
1,209,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

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!

December 21, 2010 05:18 AM
Rainmaker
68,576
Vince Santos
Southeast Michigan Home Inspector
StepByStep Home Services LC

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!

December 21, 2010 08:58 AM
Rainmaker
1,209,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

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

December 21, 2010 07:23 PM
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Rainmaker
1,209,177

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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