FAQ Answer

If colored art paper is acid free, is it also fade resistant?

There are no colored, toned or tinted papers that are completely fade resistant. All papers will fade to some extent over time, even if they are acid free. Papers fade at different rates depending on the materials used in papermaking and the external environment.

Since most fine art papers are now acid free, the biggest paper factors that influence fade are the presence of lignin, use of optical brighteners and type of colorant.

Wood contains a substance called lignin which is basically tree sap. If lignin is present in paper, it will deteriorate the paper, turning it yellow or brown as it ages.

Optical brighteners (OBAs) are additives that are used in paper manufacturing to increase the perceived “whiteness” or brightness of paper. OBAs break down over time and cause color shifts.

There are two basic types of colorants used in fine art papers – dyes and pigments. Dyes typically have normal lightfastness values and will fade over time more quickly than pigments. Pigments are significantly more expensive than dyes and are typically used in higher end archival papers and museum boards. Although papers containing pigments can still fade and are prone to color rub-off, most are considered to have high lightfastness values.

Strathmore® removes lignin from all our wood pulp sheets and we do not add Optical Brightener Additives to our colored papers. This helps stabilize and improve lightfastness of our products.

In terms of environmental influences, storing and displaying pieces out of direct sunlight or strong light can help preserve color as well as framing pieces behind conservation glass.

Strathmore offers colored papers with both dye and pigment-based colorants to meet a range of needs. Our 400 Series Toned Papers, Strathmore Artagain®, Pastel papers, and Black Mixed Media feature dye-based colorants. Our 500 Series Charcoal paper and Museum Mounting Board feature pigment-based colorants.

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