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Advice needed: frames warping on the wall

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Sarah D.

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Hello,
I'm hoping someone can help give me some advice! We just framed a variety of model room pieces for a hotel in Bermuda that are now warping on site. We're in Colorado (a notoriously dry climate) and they were crated and shipped to Bermuda (in all it's humid glory) in January. They have sat in said crate until now, and now they are all warped to some degree (like sad Pringles).
We used Omega, Universal, Roma, AMPF, Michelangelo, and Larson wood mouldings across 20 different pieces, and they all were effected to varying degrees.
We're at a bit of a loss on what we can do about this. Can anyone tell me what we could do differently on our end to keep this from happening on the rest of the job?
 

Jim Miller

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More information, please.

Were these framed canvases without glass? Paper prints with glass? With acrylic? What sort of moulding (wood species, width, depth, finish, etc.)? Describe the nature of "warping". Was it corner-to-corner deflection - if so, how much? Was a it curvature of one or two rails? Did corners come loose? Any signs of moisture damage in transit or storage?
 

framah

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My personal opinion here is that you did nothing wrong.
Their mistake was to have someone in Denver, Co frame ANYTHING that was going to be in Bermuda!
It should have been framed in either Bermuda or at the least Florida.

That way, the moulding would have had a chance to acclimate to the local humidity before being cut for frames.

Maybe they could be flattened with weights down there for a week or so. Long shot.

..and what Jim said.
 

Mary Beth van der Horst

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Wow what the heck! I don't have any solutions, but where was the crate stored after arriving in Bermuda? From my college days, had the experience of an original Albrecht Durer collection visiting on loan to our gallery and I remember the crates having to sit unopened for 6 months to "reclimatize." I thought it was a bit extreme, but understandable due to the age of the art. That would have given time for the internal climate of the frames to slowly change in temperature and humidity to reduce reactions of the artwork. I cannot imagine frames warping like pringles even after being given 2 months of climatization adjustment unless they were stored in very very bad conditions like a steamy garage or warehouse. If you can prove that they were stored without climate control, I'd take that as an absolvement of liability. I am thinking that somewhere in the shipping or storing process, they were stored with excessive heat and high moisture and the faulty point in the line needs to be discovered and addressed. This is assuming the designs were structurally sound to begin with too... appropriately wide frames per size to avoid warping? What's the biggest size and corresponding width frame you used?
 

Lafontsee

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I won't weigh in on the cause of the warpage. You're probably right. Humidity seems like a likely culprit.

I will suggest a potential solution. Depending on the severity of the warpage, you could suggest they hang them using four-point security hangers with two T-screws on each piece positioned closer to the bottom corners. It may be possible to pull the warped corners tight enough to the wall to make them presentable.

James
 
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Sarah D.

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More information, please.

Were these framed canvases without glass? Paper prints with glass? With acrylic? What sort of moulding (wood species, width, depth, finish, etc.)? Describe the nature of "warping". Was it corner-to-corner deflection - if so, how much? Was a it curvature of one or two rails? Did corners come loose? Any signs of moisture damage in transit or storage?
From the pictures they sent (we haven't seen pictures of all of it, just their description that they are all warped) it was corner to corner on a metal piece we mounted in OM84177, at about 30x30.
Overall, most were framed without glazing but a few pieces had glass (30x30 or smaller), with a few canvas stretch only pieces.
We know that the crate sat for quite a long time after it arrived on site, but we don't know whether it was opened, or the kind of environment it was in. The install location is a climate controlled hotel, but we don't know whether the crates were stored on-site or somewhere else.
 

Jim Miller

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As noted by others above, the warping is almost certainly caused by the change of environment. One question is whether it could have been avoided. The quick answer to that one is yes, the damage probably could have been avoided by proper packaging, handling, storage, and acclimating the frames gradually. Maybe the way you fitted the frames could have something to do with it, as well, but there may be no way to determine that.

Another question is what happens next? Sorry, that one is a problem. Taking the frames back to Denver wouldn't be practical and the same thing could happen again. Fixing the issues in Bermuda would probably be the right thing to do, but at whose expense?

If I were you I would take James Lafontsee's suggestion to try pulling the frames into position by using more elaborate, four-corner hanging hardware.
 

wpfay

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If they were stored in a non-climate controlled space, then they have their answer. It's a wonder they aren't covered in mildew and chewed up by silverfish and roaches.

Surprisingly, the humidity on these islands isn't anywhere near what it is on the mainland. It depends more on rainfall and density of vegetation. I just checked Hamilton Bermuda, and the RH there for today is 50%. Wetter than Colorado in the winter, but nothing like Florida right now. We haven't had any rain in a couple days and it's at 68%. That's almost dry for us.

It is also on them to open and inspect the pieces when they arrive for any possible damage.
 

Prospero

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I have only had one frame go seriously bonkers. It twisted about 4" out of true. 😕

I was a bit baffled as I had made 100s of similar ones. Them I remembered that I had cut two long
rails in my outside unheated shed where the moulding was stored and left them in my nice warm
indoor workshop for a day or two. When I got around to cutting the short rails I brought them straight
indoors and joined the frame. The moisture content of the wood must have been different enough to
provoke the twist.

It's a good idea if you can to acclimatise the rails in an atmosphere akin to a typical home environment
before joining. Of course relocating the frames to a radically different climate means anything can happen.

** A chap I knew with relatives in Jamaica told me that out there, if you left cane furniture outside in one spot for
too long it took root. 😅
 
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Sarah D.

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Apr 8, 2020
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Denver
As noted by others above, the warping is almost certainly caused by the change of environment. One question is whether it could have been avoided. The quick answer to that one is yes, the damage probably could have been avoided by proper packaging, handling, storage, and acclimating the frames gradually. Maybe the way you fitted the frames could have something to do with it, as well, but there may be no way to determine that.

Another question is what happens next? Sorry, that one is a problem. Taking the frames back to Denver wouldn't be practical and the same thing could happen again. Fixing the issues in Bermuda would probably be the right thing to do, but at whose expense?

If I were you I would take James Lafontsee's suggestion to try pulling the frames into position by using more elaborate, four-corner hanging hardware.
The art consultant who hired us told them basically the same thing. The installer there is going to try the four point security first, and we'll go from there. Thankfully this is the model room and not the final job, so there won't be any need to send them back here to us. We're just worried about the rest of the order, and if everything is going to do this.
 
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