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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Rainmaker
1,268,398
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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...

Dec 20, 2010 10:55 AM #12
Rainmaker
1,184,643
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

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.

Dec 20, 2010 11:20 AM #13
Ambassador
1,103,985
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

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

Dec 20, 2010 11:24 AM #14
Rainmaker
169,173
Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale
Wende Schoof - Menlo Park, CA
WendeByTheBay.com - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula

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?

Dec 20, 2010 12:09 PM #15
Rainmaker
1,268,398
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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.

Dec 20, 2010 12:40 PM #16
Rainmaker
643,012
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

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).

Dec 20, 2010 06:04 PM #17
Rainmaker
1,268,398
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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?

Dec 20, 2010 06:18 PM #18
Rainmaker
1,268,398
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

Dec 20, 2010 06:18 PM #19
Rainmaker
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Kate Ford
Get-Your-Best-Mortgage-Rate.com - San Diego, CA
Ask Kate a mortgage question...

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

Dec 20, 2010 06:36 PM #20
Rainmaker
1,268,398
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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?

Dec 20, 2010 06:43 PM #21
Rainmaker
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Kate Ford
Get-Your-Best-Mortgage-Rate.com - San Diego, CA
Ask Kate a mortgage question...

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...

Dec 20, 2010 07:23 PM #22
Rainmaker
1,268,398
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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...

Dec 20, 2010 07:25 PM #23
Rainmaker
165,000
Kate Ford
Get-Your-Best-Mortgage-Rate.com - San Diego, CA
Ask Kate a mortgage question...

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

Dec 20, 2010 08:46 PM #24
Rainmaker
643,012
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

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

Dec 20, 2010 09:00 PM #25
Rainmaker
1,268,398
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I will try Nana.

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

Dec 20, 2010 09:02 PM #26
Rainmaker
229,429
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Home Inspections

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

Dec 20, 2010 09:44 PM #27
Rainmaker
225,833
Jeremy Wrenn
Wrenn Home Improvements - Wake Forest, NC
President, Wrenn Home Improvements

That wall stud sure was transferring the cold in!

Dec 20, 2010 10:13 PM #28
Rainmaker
1,268,398
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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!

Dec 21, 2010 05:18 AM #29
Rainmaker
68,576
Vince Santos
StepByStep Home Services LC - Canton, MI
Southeast Michigan Home Inspector

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!

Dec 21, 2010 08:58 AM #30
Rainmaker
1,268,398
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

Dec 21, 2010 07:23 PM #32
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

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