How to Pack Artwork for Moving: 8 Effective Tips
Trying to figure out how to pack artwork for moving? In this post, we walk you through the process step-by-step to ensure your cherished pieces arrive at their new home in one piece, no pun.
Moving can sometimes seem like a relatively straightforward process – stash items in moving boxes, load the boxes onto the moving truck, and ferry them to the next destination. Easy.
It very well may be to some extent, but when it comes to picture packing, some extra degree of caution is needed.
Artwork is very fragile, but more than that, some art pieces hold great monetary and sentimental value to us. Anything could happen when transporting pictures, whether you’re moving pictures in frames or as unframed prints. And in the unfortunate event of a mishap, you don’t want to be kicking yourself.
Which is why if you’re an art owner, it’s important to know how to pack pictures for a move.
Supplies You’ll Need for Packing Your Artwork
The materials and tools you’ll need for picture packing will vary depending on your art pieces and style. When creating your moving checklist [PDF], the following supplies should get the job done:
- Wooden crates or moving boxes – for heavier and larger artwork;
- Specialty moving box or flat picture box – ideal for prints and packing paintings for moving (both framed and unframed). They are costlier, but they will protect your most valuable pieces. Choose a box that out-sizes your art by 3-4 inches on each side;
- Cardboard corner protectors (or Styrofoam) – recommended especially when packing picture frames;
- Protective materials – these include bubble wrap and packing peanuts. They provide padding when transporting art and particularly come in handy when moving pictures in frames;
- Plastic wrap – helps when packing pictures not under glass or unframed art;
- Painter’s tape or masking tape – used to reinforce the glass when moving pictures in glass frames and sealing the moving boxes;
- Markers – for labeling;
Main Tips for Packing Artwork for Moving
Now that you know the supplies needed for transporting pictures, you need to know how to pack pictures for a move to avoid regrets when unwrapping your babies at your new home – or office if you’re moving out of office.
Here then, are the main tips to remember on how to pack pictures for moving:
- Choose the right size of boxes for your artwork.
As we’ve alluded to above, the choice of moving box matters when transporting pictures. It’s not a one-size-fits-all as artwork comes in different sizes and shapes.
An artwork box or mirror box should work with most prints and paintings. In the case of heavier and larger pictures, go with a wooden crate. If you’re having trouble finding a wooden crate or if you’re on a budget, you can use a flat picture box or specialty moving box.
The beauty of the latter two is that they’re versatile enough for transporting pictures, both framed and unframed. Alternatively, you can always take apart a used box and flatten it yourself. Just make sure the size is right (three to four inches bigger than your art on each side).
The left-over space is where the padding will go. The box should neither be too large, nor too compact because the former will have you using more padding materials than necessary; while the latter will limit the padding capacity, increasing the risk of damage to your artwork.
It’s okay to pack your art together, but we recommend this only for smaller art pieces. In which case, they need to be of a similar size as opposed to bundling everything together.
- Use plastic or a palette to protect the face on your artworks.
Pictures not under glass are always vulnerable, but there is also the risk of friction damage when transporting art like this.
Fortunately, you can protect your art by wrapping the painted face with plastic wrap from your kitchen. Or purchase several sheets of palette wrap. This also works great for glass-covered watercolors and art prints.
- Use painter’s tape or masking tape to cover glassed pictures.
When moving pictures in frames – specifically those covered with glass – there is a possibility of the glass shattering during handling or transit.
Therefore, before placing your art pieces in their respective boxes, use painter’s tape or masking tape to mark an “X” diagonally on the glass. This will keep the glass from shattering completely or moving around too much in the event it breaks.
- Use Styrofoam or cardboard corner protectors.
This applies when packing paintings with a frame. It’s not a must, but it’s advisable especially when dealing with valuable or unique artwork.
Styrofoam or cardboard corners provide an extra layer of protection and should go over the cling wrap. You can buy specialized cardboard corner protectors or if you’re a sworn hobbyist, prep your own.
- Bring in the bubble wrap.
Bubble wrap is a staple in the packing process, and it will come to the rescue when packing pictures for moving as well. Crumpled newspaper may be eco-friendly and readily available, but wrapping artwork and/or frames with it can leave unwanted marks.
Wrap each piece individually, going around the art lengthwise and widthwise. Don’t skimp on the wrap. Once that’s done, secure the bubble wrap with packing tape to ensure it stays in place when transporting pictures. Extend the tape to cover both the vertical and horizontal dimensions.
- Prepare the bottom of the box.
Wadded newsprint can be placed on the bottom of the box, but a good alternative is packing peanuts. Dump a layer inside to cushion the box moving artwork properly, then place the art inside. Use the remaining packing peanuts to fill out all the remaining space.
- Test your box for movement.
Just before you seal the box, it’s important to make sure the contents inside are securely in place. Close the box lightly and wriggle it back and forth to make sure the painting inside is not shifting. If the art piece is moving, add some more padding.
- Seal the box and label.
Lastly, tape your moving box thoroughly and then use the marker to label the contents inside. You can indicate “Fragile” or “Artwork” (or both), so that everyone involved in the moving process knows how to handle these particular boxes.
And with that, you can consider it a wrap! In every literal sense of the phrase.
Now you know how to pack artwork for moving.
By following these simple steps, it need not be a harrowing experience anymore: you’ll give your art pieces a chance of getting to the next destination in perfect condition.