Art restoration should be undertaken cautiously. Unlike restoring a house, certain restoration processes can actually reduce the value of the art. Most restorers and conservators will also suggest getting the piece appraised before starting the restoration process.
     Most restoration projects involve oil paintings, which are most readily adaptable to restoration. Works on paper present usually greater challenges. The following guidelines are directed primarily at oil paintings.
     • Holes and rips in the painting should always be repaired. Although relining the painting on new canvas should only be done at the last resort. For relining, alters the integrity of the original piece, and for the most part, cannot be undone.
     • Replacing chipped or missing paint should also be undertaken judiciously. If the missing paint is in significant parts of the painting, such as a face in a portrait, then replacing the paint is advised. If the missing paint is in a peripheral part of the painting such as a background, it might be best to leave the paint alone.
     • Another hazardous procedure is the removal of discolored varnish. Although professionals are usually successful in doing this, chemical interactions can occur that can threaten the paint. If the discoloration is not profound, it is best to let it alone.
     • Similarly most cleaning procedures will not hurt the painting, but there are rare occasions where accidents have occurred to seriously damage paintings. So if the painting has significant value and you are contemplating possible sale, it might be best to avoid the process. Let the new owner clean the piece. However, paintings that have experienced decades of smoke and grime can become so dingy that they lose their aesthetic appeal. Cleaning can dramatically brighten a painting and restore it to its original brilliance. However, this can be disconcerting to the owner who has become accustomed to its somber appearance.
     • Avoid cleaning or restoring the area of an artist’s signature.
     Last piece of advice. There are many individuals who claim to be art restorers, but it is a very sophisticated and difficult skill that should be learned at an accredited institution of conservation. If the painting has significant value, you should choose only an accredited conservator with years of experience.

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-- You should never have a painting restored until you have it appraised. If it is worth the cost of restoration, it is probably worth the cost of an appraisal.--