What You Should Know About Light and Antique Carpets

Protect your antique carpets from light damage. Nazmiyal

Protect Your Antique Carpets from Over Exposure to Light

Antique Carpets care — It’s a ritual at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. On the hour and half-hour, the Ardabil carpet is lit for a brief 10 minutes, so visitors to the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art can behold its splendor. The enclosed display case and lighting system in Room 42 were specially crafted to showcase the world-famous 16th century Safavid carpet and to preserve its exquisite colors. While few collectors display priceless artifacts on the floor, most do value their antique carpets and want to protect the rich colors and structure as best they can. Read on to learn how:

Protect your antique carpets from light damage. Nazmiyal
Protect your antique carpets from light damage.
  1. Rotate carpets on a semiannual schedule to minimize traffic and furniture wear as well as fading from sunlight. If fading from UV rays does occur, it will be distributed in a more even, uniform manner without compromising a particular side or section.
  1. Use window coverings to block sunlight and ultraviolet rays without sacrificing style. Even sheer curtains block some direct light, especially when the width is doubled or tripled for added fullness. However, opaque curtains provide better protection. Roller shades and blackout curtains lined with Roc-lon are the most effective for blocking rays.
  1. Interior and exterior window fixtures, such as awnings, plantation shutters and European “rollo” or rollosette blinds, are also effective for managing natural light.
  1. Even artificial light from fluorescent or incandescent bulbs produces ultraviolet waves that fade fabric and natural dyes over time, as the V&A is wary of. Use lower wattage bulbs, or better yet, install protective UV filters designed for art and archival documents.
  1. Low emissivity or low-E products aren’t effective for reducing the damage caused by prolonged exposure to direct light. These products reflect thermal energy and block 10 percent of sunlight. The main function is keeping heat out. Window films designed especially for blocking ultraviolet rays are a more effective option when protecting valuable textiles, upholstered furnishings and investments. Plus, films can easily be installed on existing windows and skylights.

Turning the lights on for only 10 minutes at a time is not a reasonable practice for most home environments, but there are plenty of practical ways to limit excessive UV exposure while controlling the natural light that makes a carpet’s colors all the more beautiful in moderation.

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