Photo prints can last a long time if you take care of them properly. There are several simple ways to store and display HD photo prints so they don’t fade and last for decades; avoid overly humid environments, keep out of constant direct sunlight, and handle them as little as possible. One of the most popular ways to increase the durability of a photo is to mount it to a piece of acrylic, thereby avoiding many of the common reasons photos lose fidelity.

When you want to display an HD photo print there are several other factors and ways to increase longevity. Let’s dig into what makes photos fade or deteriorate and how you can ensure a long-lasting print.

What Causes Photos To Fade & Deteriorate?

There are six causes of photos fading or deteriorating in some way. Older photos that use different chemicals or are framed using less advanced adhesives are particularly susceptible to these causes. With the HD photo paper printing technology and chemicals of today, new photo prints are often more adept at handling these environmental factors.

  1. Light Exposure: Over an extended period of time, light interacts with the dyes and pigments in the photo paper so long-term exposure to light, particularly ultraviolet (UV) light, can cause fading and discoloration of photos.
  2. Air Pollution: Airborne pollutants can react with the chemicals in photos, causing fading, yellowing, and deterioration. Acidic pollutants in particular accelerate the breakdown of photo materials.
  3. Temperature and Humidity Fluctuations: Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can lead to the expansion and contraction of photo materials, causing warping, cracking, and other forms of physical damage.
  4. Humidity and Mold: Exposure to high humidity levels or moisture can cause photos to stick to glass or other surfaces, leading to irreparable damage. Moisture can also promote the growth of mold and mildew.
  5. Chemical Reactions: Chemical reactions between photo materials, adhesives, and other substances can lead to changes in color, fading, and deterioration. Acidic or low-quality materials used in framing and storage can contribute to these reactions.
  6. Handling and Touch: Oils, dirt, and contaminants from hands and fingers can transfer to the photo surface during handling, leading to stains and deterioration over time.

How Do I Frame & Display My HD Photo Paper Print To Make Them Last?

Framing your HD photo paper print is a great way to protect it from the environment. Here are the 5 things to look for in framing your photo print so it lasts.

  1. UV-Filtering Glass: High-quality UV-filtering glass or acrylic blocks harmful UV rays from reaching the photo.
  2. Acrylic Face Mounting: In this process, a photo is adhered to a sheet of acrylic using a special adhesive, creating a sleek and modern look while providing protection against moisture and UV rays.
  3. Museum-Grade Framing: Museums, galleries, and quality printers often use framing techniques and materials designed for long-term preservation. These include acid-free matting, pH-neutral adhesives, and archival backing boards to prevent acid migration and deterioration.
  4. Sealed Frames: Some advanced frames incorporate a sealed environment or controlled atmosphere, which can help regulate humidity levels and prevent moisture-related damage.
  5. Climate-Controlled Cabinets: For a more comprehensive solution, climate-controlled cabinets or display cases can be used to protect photos from fluctuating humidity and temperature levels.
Protect your hd photo prints

What Should I Do To Avoid Photo Prints Fading Or Discolouring?

If you want to create a standard photo paper print that lasts for decades, follow these four tips so you can display and enjoy your print while keeping it around for as long as possible.

  1. Avoid Direct Sunlight: To prevent fading, do not place your photos in direct sunlight. You might even want to move your photos from place to place within a room or house to ensure that no one print receives too much sunlight.
  2. Keep In A Stable Environment: Outside or in rooms that are not climate controlled (temperature and humidity), have poor air quality, or are dusty are bad choices for photos.
  3. Use Modern Printing Techniques: If you’re getting a new photo paper print, be sure to use a printer with the most up-to-date dry-lab printing technology available, these printers will produce the highest quality and longest-lasting prints.
  4. Consider Acrylic Face Mounting: When you mount a photo to acrylic you’re protecting the photo from the elements behind layers of plexiglass and increase the longevity immensely.