Top Tips for Packing Paintings and Other Artwork

Take precautions when relocating valuable artwork. Here are a few important tips to follow as you pack framed and unframed wall art for a move to a new location.

Order or Create Appropriate Containers and Boxes

All artwork should be packed in an inner and outer container. Order custom crates and boxes for your artwork that include both inner and outer protective containers, or you can make your own containers using cardboard boxes, cardboard sheets, and a box cutter. Artwork boxes can also be made with plywood.

Regardless of the materials used, a custom box should provide at least three inches of space on all sides of the frame. Order or make triangular cardboard corner pieces that slide over the corners of frames to protect the frame materials and prevent any loosening of fasteners that join the frame sides together.

Foam, bubble wrap, and cardboard sheets protect packed artwork from moving around during transit. Use ample amounts of protective materials to fill all voids in artwork packing boxes and crates.

Never use packing peanuts to cushion artwork. The peanuts can destroy the work if they make contact with the piece, and the peanuts become a nightmare during unpacking.

Use Archival Barriers for Unframed Art

Unframed works of art can be bent, crumpled, or smeared during a relocation. Whether you roll an unframed work into a tube for relocation or you pack the piece flat, fortify and stabilize the pieces using rigid cardboard shipping tubes or sheets.

Invest in acid-free tissue paper called glassine to act as a surface protector for unframed artwork. Glassine and similar archival-quality tissues don’t have chemicals or other materials that will stain paintings and drawings.

Use archival foam to provide the first layer of cushioning for a piece being moved flat. Next, strengthen the foam core by adding layers of rigid cardboard sheets, Securely tape the front and back cardboard sheets to each other using art tape.

Take Extra Precautions With Unglazed Works

Works of art that are not under glass typically include oil paintings, pastels, and mixed-media pieces. Never pack oil paintings that have not dried completely. A wet oil painting can be severely damaged when pressure is applied to the surface of the artwork.

Avoid directly touching the surface of unglazed artwork. Glassine or white-cotton photography gloves should be used to maneuver an exposed work if you must touch its surface.

Never apply bubble wrap directly next to wet oil paint or varnished works that have not set. When packing dry oil paintings and other unglazed pieces for relocation, use sheets of glassine over the surfaces of the pieces before wrapping and cushioning pieces.

Chalk-type pastel paintings can be protected by spraying the surfaces of the works with an archival-quality fixative before applying glassine. Protect exposed oil-pastel works with glassine as well.

Cushion unglazed works of art with archival foam before wrapping the pieces in bubble wrap or protective foam sheeting. Tape bubble wrap to keep it secure around the painting during movement. Use art tape to secure bubble wrap, and avoid applying any tape directly to the art surface or frame.

Protect Glazed Framed Art

Framed, glazed art surfaces are protected by the glass or plexiglass in front of the pieces. However, glass in art frames can shatter during a relocation and scratch or rip the artwork.

Ideally, you should use glass safety film or glass skin called Perspex to cover the glass. Shards of broken glass will stick to the film and are less likely to drop onto the painting, drawing, or photograph.

If you can’t find glass safety film, use tape to make a star pattern on the front of the frame’s glass. Tape should be applied from edge to edge and corner to corner of the glass to create the star.

Secure Packing Boxes and Crates

Any trip in a vehicle will involve some movement of packed boxes while the artwork is in transit. If boxes are not properly secured, punctures and weak spots put artwork at risk of damage.

Tape all edges of cardboard packing boxes to reinforce the cardboard. If the boxes accidentally slide over rough surfaces or bump against sharp edges, the boxes are less likely to snag or tear open.

Apply handles to wooden crates used to transport framed or unframed wall art. Use strong screws and thoroughly fasten them to the crates to ensure the handles won’t loosen or be accidentally knocked off the crate.

Hire a White-Glove Mover for Art Relocation

In one recent year, one fourth of all artwork-loss claims were due to pieces being damaged during transit. Only 15 percent of the insurance claims were for stolen artwork.

Don’t trust your valuable works of art to the cheapest mover or shipper. Relocate artworks by hiring a white glove mover who will carefully transport the works to your new location.

White-glove movers can also meticulously unpack and allow you to inspect the works to ensure they arrive in their pre-packed condition.

Ask the mover if they’ve handled gallery works and other valuable artwork relocations before you hire them. You can also ask art-gallery owners for their recommendations of art-friendly moving companies.

Avoid costly artwork losses during relocations in Chicago by contacting Affordable Moving Co. today. We offer professional white glove moving services for residential customers and gallery owners.

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