Oil Painting Restoration Services

Restoration by Mail

Restoring your painting is made easy with services provided via mail. Send me photos of your painting to receive a complementary analysis of the painting, services that can be provided, and the cost. If you wish to proceed, ship the painting to the Paint Doctor and it will be returned to you fully restored.

A painting of ships in the ocean before and after being painted.


In many cases, the most visually dramatic results (and the most common reason for inquiry) can be achieved through the careful removal of grime, dirt, smoke, and old varnish layers. This process typically requires the slow, methodical use of special solvents and neutralizers, cotton balls, q-tips, and hours spent working on your painting under a bright light and high magnification.

A person in gloves painting a picture on top of a table.

Repair of damages

“Damage” can take many forms. Typically, painted surfaces have been scratched, holes have pierced the painting, and pigment has chipped or flaked off. Small holes are often mended by applying a linen patch to the back of the painting, followed by the use of picture putty and “inpainting” to the front of the canvas to match and unify the missing content of the original painting. Other, more technical, processes might be required to repair the wide variety of structural and aesthetic impairments that have occurred over time.

A painting of an old man with white hair.
A painting of an old man with white hair.
A woman painting a picture of a horse.


Inpainting is the process of matching the artist’s original color palette, brush strokes, and application techniques to blend seamlessly with the artist’s original intent.

New varnish

Since the time of the “Old Masters”, varnish has been applied to oil paintings as the final step. Varnish not only protects the painting from dirt becoming embedded directly in the pigment layer, but it has the effect of brightening and unifying a painting’s appearance. However, over time varnish tends to darken (and the more coats of varnish a painting has, the darker it can become). Once the original varnish has been removed and the painting has been repaired and inpainted, coats of Dammar varnish are applied, and the painting is allowed to dry once again.

A painting of a woman with a paintbrush in her mouth.

What does a restoration cost?

The cost of any restoration is determined by several factors. The most common factors are the size of the painting, the services requested, the degree of restoration required to repair damage, and the amount of inpainting required. Each step in a restoration takes time; the more time a restoration requires, the more cost is incurred. However, experience has shown that most single painting restorations will range between $300 and $700 dollars. Also, some customers will have two or three small paintings, or paintings by one artist, and the common requirements, as well as similar artistic techniques, can result in a more cost-effective restoration event.