Archive-Safe Flat File Care (Rust Removal, Paint, Soap, etc)

Information on shipping, storing and repairing your art, plus your reviews on products for art collecting, making, storing, etc..

Postby nebu1ou5 on Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:24 pm

I acquired 2 metal flat files from Craig's List a little while back but have been hesitant to use them for print storage due to their condition.

One is in a noticeably better state than the other. But both are dirty, with small chips of missing paint. The worse of the 2 files has areas of rust in the corners of the drawers.

Based on all of my past research, storing prints via archival methods is a must (which is why I bought metal flat files in the first place). I’m finally ready to take the plunge in order to make these files usable but have several questions before I begin.

•First and foremost—is sharing a drawer with rust hazardous to my paper items (even if they are covered but not sealed and not directly touching the rust)?

•Is there a recommended way of stopping the rust without the risk of harmful out-gassing creating an environment that would be hazardous to my prints?

•What is an archive-safe paint that could be used on my flat files that would not cause harmful out-gassing/would not be physically toxic to my prints? According to Safco, such paints exist as they describe their flat files as having the following properties “Museum/archival quality paint finish ensures that there is no out-gassing and that the atmosphere in the flat files has no acidity or alkalinity (ph) created by the finish” ( ... upID=10037)

•What would be an archive-safe soap/cleaner to use on my dirty files/drawers? Based on my own research, I’ve discovered Vulpex Liquid Soap ( (MSDS: Does anyone have any experience with this product or would there be another product with a higher recommendation?

I really hope I can begin to find some answers. Unfortunately the topic of metal paints/rust products and their effects on paper items is not an easy field to research, as it falls somewhere between object conservation and paper conservation. I have spoken to object conservators who recommend speaking to paper conservators. And I have spoken to paper conservators who simply do not know. Thanks in advance if anyone has any advice!
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Postby Cragars on Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:46 am

Check out some local companies that could media-blast the FF. No more rust, just bare metal after that.

You could look into car paint or just clear coat if you don't mind the bare metal look. Shoot off an email to companies like Dupont to see if they put out any products that could be useful for archiving. IIRC out-gassing should be at a minimum once the paint has cured, something that can be sped up by leaving the FF out in the sun after painting/coating.
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