Whether you’re moving a $50 painting or a family heirloom, you need to know how to pack artwork the right way.
Packing framed art (paintings, drawings, portraits) the wrong way will destroy its content. Using the wrong packing material, tacky packing, or insufficient padding will also ruin the piece. Then you’ll be left with shattered glass, torn canvases, or chipped frames.
Better safe than sorry! Let’s teach you the best ways to pack framed art.
Ways to Pack Framed Art for Moving
Before packing, you need to gather supplies and buy suitable packing materials. If you want your cargo to arrive safely at your new home, you’ll need the best packing materials and many padding supplies.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to pack framed art for moving:
- Flat cardboard box
- Mirror box or artwork box
- Wooden crate
- Packing paper
- Parchment paper
- Bubble wrap
- Plastic wrap or palette
- Painter’s tape
- Permanent or Sharpie marker
First, you need a clean, wide, flat surface like a big table or the floor. Place a piece of clothing like a towel or blanket on the surface to protect your artwork from scratches.
Now, let’s get started.
Wrap Framed Art in Packing Paper
When ordering, select a box 2-3 inches bigger than your artwork on all sides. Anything more means extra padding than required.
Pack one large piece of artwork per box and pack smaller artwork together in a large cardboard box but use enough padding.
Here’s how to pack framed art for moving:
- Make a large ‘X’ and a plus on the glass frame of your painting using masking tape.
If the glass breaks in transit, the tape will hold the shards in place and protect the art.
- Place packing paper or parchment paper on a flat surface large enough to accommodate the painting.
- Lay the painting in the middle of the paper with the glass facing the paper.
- Wrap the ends of the paper around the frame and secure the length and breadth with painter’s tape.
- Wrap the piece in 2-3 sheets of plastic, palette, or kitchen wrap to protect it from friction damage.
- Wrap the piece in 2-3 strips of bubble wrap, then tape it in place.
- Tape cardboard corners or improvised cardboard pieces to the frame for extra protection.
- Stuff the bottom of the box with bubble wrap and crumpled packing paper or wadded newsprint.
- Load your artwork into the box.
- Fill the sides of the box with padding and shake the box lightly to be sure if the artwork isn’t moving around. Pack more padding material till you have a snug fit.
- Pad the top of the box and tape the flaps shut.
- Use a marker to label the ‘Top’ of the box, then write ‘Artwork: Fragile’ and ‘Handle With Care’ legibly.
Labeling ensures everyone treats your cargo with care and saves time looking for boxes when unpacking.
Cover Framed Art with Cardboard Cutouts
Another way to pack framed art is using cardboard cutouts. Follow the steps below:
- Protect the glass with enough masking tape.
- Place a piece of cardboard over the glass; the cutout should be a few inches larger than the frame.
- Wrap the package in 2-3 sheets of packing paper and secure it with tape.
- Add a few strips of bubble wrap for extra protection.
- Cushion the cardboard box as explained above.
- Add sufficient padding to the box.
- Label the box accordingly.
Related: 3 Ways to Pack Paintings for Moving
Use a Mirror Box
A specialty box—artwork box, mirror box, or picture box—is the best fit for packing framed art. Mirror boxes are much slender than standard cardboard boxes, and all you need to do is slide in your wrapped paintings. Although pricey, these boxes are an excellent investment to protect your art.
Online, you can get mirror boxes from office supply stores or Home Depot.
Here’s how to pack framed art in a mirror box:
- Wrap the piece in packing paper or parchment paper, as explained above.
- Tape the paper to the frame.
- Measure the dimensions frame’s dimensions to help you select the right box.
- Purchase a mirror box 3 inches bigger than the frame’s dimensions.
- Secure one end of the mirror box with enough painter’s tape.
- Pad the box like you would pad a cardboard box.
- Slide the package into the box.
- Load as many small frames as can contain the box.
- Tape the box and label it with a marker.
Tips For Packing Framed Art For Moving
- Wash your hands before handling oil or paint canvases.
- Newspapers leave prints on items and wrap them with packing paper instead.
- Don’t pack peanuts or paper shreds. They can stick to glass and don’t provide enough cushion.
- Never pack more than 40 pounds in a box.
- Reinforce the top and bottom of boxes with masking tape.
- Get insurance for your artwork if you’re using a moving company.
- When loading boxes containing artwork in a truck, stack them upright, not flat. Support artwork with sturdy boxes, like a box of clothes.
Related: How to Pack Mirrors for Moving
While moving with help from our loved ones can be fun, at the same time, it’s better safe than sorry. Don’t entrust the packing of artwork, breakables, or fragile stuff to someone else’s hands.
No one can be as meticulous as you.