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Archival paper is a high-quality type of paper that is designed to be extremely durable and resistant to deterioration over time. Proper archival grade papers are typically made from high-quality, acid-free materials and are used for a variety of applications such as fine art prints, historically important documents, and other records that need to be preserved for a long period of time.

How long can archival papers last for?

The short answer is that it depends on several factors, but archival paper that is well cared for and stored appropriately can technically last for hundreds of years.

The key factors involved in the lifespan of archival paper includes:

  • The quality of the paper itself.
  • The environment in which the paper is stored.
  • How carefully the paper is handled and cared for.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these archival factors below.

Not all papers are created equal

Many papers are labelled as archival, but they are not created equal and thus the lifespan from one paper to another may differ substantially. We recommend you purchase from well-known and reputable vendors who have a track record in the fine art printing space.

Print of a Lion on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308

In our case we only stock fine art papers and canvases from Hahnemühle, a German manufacturer with over 430 years of experience who specialise in the production of high-quality fine art papers and canvases that meet the highest level of age resistance and conform to ISO 9706 standards.

Environmental factors play a huge role

When we consider environmental factors, we are referring to storage in a cool, dry, and consistent location free from direct sunlight, moisture, and other sources of potential damage. Whilst this may be appropriate for historical documents or important records that may just need to be stored and largely left alone in a highly controlled environment, it is unlikely to be a viable situation for those of us who simply wish to enjoy viewing a particular fine art print on the walls of our home or office.

In a country like Singapore, where we have high humidity and often fluctuating conditions as a result of rainfall, heat, and aircon systems going on and off throughout the day it does create unique challenges in maintaining paper-based works.

It is our recommendation to clients however that these conditions make it ever more relevant to spend a bit more and print on a higher quality archival paper. We have seen first-hand where prints on lower quality papers have lasted less than 6 months in Singapore due to environmental factors. When these prints were replaced with higher quality archival papers the customer has not had a repeat of the problems.

Whilst environmental factors are a problem in Singapore, it does not mean that your archival paper cannot last 80-100+ years. It just means that we should be more mindful of the specific challenges we do face here.

Handle with care

By their very creation, archival papers are delicate and can be prone to smudge marks, scratches and other surface level damage if they are handled incorrectly.

Printing of Bamboo forest on Hahnemuhle Bamboo 290gsm Fine Art Paper

When handling archival paper, it is important to do so with clean hands [or more ideally] with gloves to avoid transferring any oils, dirt, or other contaminants onto the paper.

Framing can make a difference

 If you are printing with the intention of displaying your artwork or photograph in your home or office, then the quality of the framing can play a major role in the longevity of the work. A professional framer who leverages proper conservation framing techniques will ensure the work inside your frame is properly protected with acid-free materials and effective sealing.

Contact us for further assistance

If you require any further assistance or advice regarding archival paper and canvases, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You may wish to check out our archival quality papers and canvases at the following links below.

Fine Art Paper

Canvas Printing

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