Your Scrapbook Albums – 7 Sure Ways To Extend Their Life Span

Abhishek Agarwal asked:

When you create a scrapbook, it’s because you want to save and recall memories for years to come. Nothing is more disappointing than investing many hours creating a beautiful scrapbook with precious treasures from the past, only to have the album fall apart, the pictures fade, or the labels disappear. Here are some tips on protecting your scrapbooks and giving them a long, healthy lifespan.

1. Use a Good Album

Your scrapbook album is the single most important material for capturing and keeping your precious memories. It’s the backbone of your collection of cards, photos, papers, and embellishments. And while provides the stable framework to house your memories, the album can’t preserve them.

You have so many choices today in selecting a scrapbook album. In fact, there are so many different types that they don’t fall into easy categories. Most modern scrapbooks are rectangular, the size of a piece of paper (8-1/2×11″), or their square, coming in sized ranging from one square foot (12×12″) to half of that (6×6″). Size selection is completely a matter of personal choice. Smaller sizes are more portable, while larger sizes allow more decoration and embellishments.

The more use a scrapbook gets, the more time it’s reviewed to recall special times, the more likely it is to degrade. Wear and tear will show, and your album could literally fall apart. But there are things you can do to protect your album and extend its life.

2. Beware Disaster!

Perhaps the worst thing that could happen to your scrapbook and its contents is a spill, so it’s important to keep it away from liquids. They not only spoil the album cover materials, but they can destroy your favorite photos and memorabilia. Make sure your working area is clear of liquids, and that includes your coffee or tea!

3. Prevent Fading

Direct sunlight will fade your album’s color and reduce the overall quality of your scrapbook. Extreme temperatures will also cause changes in the surface material. Very low temperatures can create moisture that could lead to mildew, while very hot temperatures could cause warping of the album cover backing. Use page protectors inside to prevent damage to photos and memorabilia.

4. Avoid Oil Stains

If you’ve watched any crime shows, you know that fingerprints leave an oily stain that can detract from your carefully-planned decoration and design. To avoid leaving these marks on your scrapbook album or contents, you could wear cotton gloves. But more practical approaches include washing your hands with acid-neutralizing cleaners or even simply using special care when handling photographs and delicate items.

5. Store Your Materials Properly

Don’t leave your scrapbook materials out where they can get lost or damaged. Properly storing your negatives and layouts will prevent tearing, scratching, and bending. Storing all your materials in a cool dry place will increase their quality and lifespan. Use sturdy bins and containers, and be sure that envelopes are acid-free.

Take care in selecting plastics to use as sealers or protectants for photos and memorabilia. Plastic wraps and covers come in a range of quality, and not all will be suitable for preserving your precious mementos. Be sure to check with the retailer about the quality of the plastic protectants you consider purchasing.

Avoid vinyl plastics completely. They contain polyvinyl chlorides (known as PVCs) that can be dangerous and corrosive. While you may not see damage immediately, PVC plastics are a bad choice for storing scrapbook materials or for use in your scrapbook. Instead, use polyester or acrylic plastics that are more stable and less corrosive to give your scrapbooks long life and durability.

6. Use Acid-Free Paper

Be careful to use ONLY acid-free papers for your scrapbook. Many retailers include acidic papers in their inventory, so you’ll want to double-check before making your purchase. Staying with one manufacturer is not a guarantee, either. While a company may make acid-free pastels, their darker colors or cardstocks may not be as safe for your scrapbook. When in doubt, always check the package label or test unlabeled papers before using them.

Using acid-free papers is important because acids promote immediate deterioration of the non-paper materials in your scrapbook. The acid will make paper and other scrapbook items turn yellow and dry out. You’re making a scrapbook to preserve your memories, and acidic papers will definitely circumvent that objective.

7. Use Quality Markers

Years from now, you’ll want to check to see when a photo was taken. You’ll want to read the notes you added to explain details of an event. You should be sure that the materials you use to label and identify your scrapbook items last for as long as the scrapbook does.

Ballpoint pens transfer ink from page to page, as it takes them a surprisingly long time to dry. And when using a ballpoint, you use more pressure than you would with another type of marker or pen. Look for archival quality, acid-free, and fade-proof markers for best results.

Following these simple guidelines will keep your treasured scrapbooks looking fresh and new for years. Your memories will be preserved for your children and their children. Don’t let carelessness and poor-quality materials spoil your scrapbooks!

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