3 Ways to Pack Paintings for Moving

Paintings add beauty and vibrance to your home, and they are usually a reflection of your aesthetic taste. It is common for art lovers to get nervous about these appealing pieces when moving house. 

3 Ways to Pack Paintings for Moving

Because paintings can easily get damaged, they require careful and proper handling to keep them protected during a move. This guide has put together three ways to pack your paintings to ensure their safety.

Supplies You’ll Need to Pack Paintings

  • Scissors
  • Butter paper
  • Packing tape
  • Bubble wraps
  • Painter’s tape
  • Glassine paper
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Permanent marker
  • Picture/mirror boxes
  • Crates (For long-distance moves)

Paintings come in different styles, textures, and sizes. When packing, you cannot handle oil painting the same way as acrylic paintings. You can choose any packing method based on your paintings and shipping distance.

Moving Paintings with Cardboard Tubes

Moving Paintings with Cardboard Tubes
Image by Richardson David

These custom-made mailing tubes are efficient containers for packing your paintings. Beyond being environmentally friendly, they are light, rigid, and can fit into any space in the truck. If you intend on getting a new frame for your paintings or the original one is damaged, a cardboard tube is your best option for moving paintings without frames.

You can check out Stockroom Plus for good-quality cardboard tubes on Amazon. Here are the steps to efficiently pack your paintings in tubes:

  • Take your paintings off the frames or stretchers.
  • Spread them on top of each other, wrapping plastic between them.
  • Stack in one direction with the painted side facing the table.
  • Get 2 cardboard tubes of the same length but different diameters. The narrower tube will serve as the inner tube, and the wider one will be the outer tube. For instance, you can buy two 6 feet long tubes with one being 13” in diameter and the other 6”.
  • Place the inner tube on the edge of the stacked paintings and roll them together, ensuring the painted part is outwards from the tube.
  • Wrap the paintings rolled around the inner tube in plastic and secure them with tape.
  • Put it inside the wider outer tube and cover it.

Important Tips: 

  • HDPE plastic such as butter paper and Glassine paper is best for rolling paintings
  • Avoid glycine and wax paper as they will stick to acrylic paintings easily.

Moving Paintings in Cardboard Boxes

Moving Paintings in Cardboard Boxes

Packing paintings in cardboard boxes is the common way of moving framed paintings. These cardboard boxes come in various sizes and shapes. Small and medium-size paintings can be packed together in regular medium-size boxes.

For large paintings, it is better to pack them separately in special picture boxes that are slightly larger than the frame. You can get the regular mirror boxes from Bankers Box or the 4-piece adjustable mirror boxes from Partners Brand on Amazon. If you don’t have mirror boxes, you can build one using large cardboard sheets. 

When you have fully wrapped the paintings, place butter paper or newspaper at the bottom of the box, shake the box to check for firmness, seal it and label the box “FRAGILE.”

Moving paintings in Wooden Crates

Moving paintings in Wooden Crates
Image by Charmaine Lurch

A wooden crate is customized for moving framed paintings. The significant benefits of moving paintings in crates are that it offers the highest level of protection and regulates the temperature and humidity.

However, this packing method is time-consuming. You have to build crates specifically for each painting. This also makes this method very expensive. But it is ideal for moving paintings over long distances, even overseas. Here’s how you can pack your paintings in a crate

Design the crate slightly above the dimension of the frames. You’ll need extra tools to build crates. It is advisable to hire a moving company for this task. But if you prefer doing it yourself, here are the steps 

  1. Cut 4 boards of plywood
  2. Cut the sideboards.
  3. Assemble the Frame.
  4. Assemble the plywood sides.
  5. Screw plywood to the bottom of the frame
  6. Lay Styrofoam in the bottom of the crate.
  7. Put your wrapped painting inside the crate.
  8. Place an entire layer of styrofoam on top of your painting.
  9. Screw-in your top sheet of plywood once the painting is tight and secure in the crate.

How to Wrap Paintings Before Packing

How to Wrap Paintings Before Packing
Image by Kimberly Montes

Regardless of the packing method, paintings can get damaged if not well wrapped in protective packaging materials. These simple steps will help prevent you from moisture and dirt:

Tape an’ X’ on paintings that have glass frames

Using painter’s tape, making an X on the glass of paintings will prevent the glass from shattering completely if it cracks in transit. This will protect the paintings from glass particles. It is not advisable to use duct tape as they leave streaks on the glasses.

Lay Soft Material on the table while wrapping.

Hard surfaces can scratch your paintings and break the glasses at the slightest pressure. It is essential to spread a blanket or sheets before you start wrapping.

Cover the face of the paintings with glassine

Glassine will protect the frames from dirt and moisture. Unlike wax paper, glassine doesn’t stick to oil and acrylic paintings. Cut out a glassine 2 inches larger than each side of the frame and place the painting with its face down on the glassing. You can now hold it to the back of the frame with painter’s tape. 

For paintings without frames and canvases, you can add cardboard sheets on both sides of the paintings.

Place cupboards on the corner

If you’re wrapping precious paintings, you need to protect the edges with cardboard. This layer of protection secures the edges of frames. You can either purchase the corners or make them yourself using cardboard sheets. 

Pad the paintings in bubble wraps

Bubble Wraps provide padding for your paintings. It would help if you were lavish when using bubble wrap. Keep wrapping until it is thick enough to fill the depth of the box. 

Lay the bubbled side on the table and place the frames on the flat side to avoid bubble impressions on the painting.

If you run short of bubble wrap, you can supplement your padding with styrofoam or blankets.

Once you have fully wrapped the painting, you can place them in cardboard boxes or wooden crates and seal them tightly.

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