How to Pack Artwork, Pictures and Mirrors for Moving
Packing to move artwork, pictures and mirrors overseas
Learning how to pack artwork, pictures and mirrors when moving presents a unique set of problems. Not only are these items large and difficult to maneuver, but the very elements meant to provide protection (namely the frame and the glass pane) can damage your art while in transit. To keep your artwork safe, you’ll need to protect the surface of the artwork by applying an ‘X’ in box tape as well as pliable cardboard sheets, affixing corner protectors to the frame, wrapping the art in bubble wrap, and placing it inside a sturdy moving box marked ‘Fragile’.
With much more detailed information on each of these steps, our guide on how to pack pictures and mirrors is sure to assist, as are our tips on topics like how to pack an oil painting, and how to pack a canvas painting.
Step-By-Step Process for Packing Paintings, Mirrors and Pictures
Use this step-by-step guide to help ensure your paintings, mirrors and pictures are packed properly for moving, so that they arrive safe and sound:
- Ensure you have quality packing materials on hand. You will need:
- Ample amounts of packing material, such as bubble wrap and white packing paper (sometimes called butcher’s paper)
- Box tape and scotch tape
- Box tape dispenser
- Box tape refills
- Box cutter
- Permanent markers
- Sheets of cardboard
- Custom crating or specifically-designed moving boxes
- Glassine paper (if you’re packing oil paintings)
- A large, flat, and clean working surface.
- Carefully remove the artwork or mirror from the wall and lay it flat on your clean working surface
- If you’re packing a mirror or a piece of art with a glass pane, use box tape to create a large X across the surface. This will help prevent breakages by strengthening the surface
- Cover the surface of the glass or the mirror with a sheet of glassine, particularly if you’re packing an oil painting, to protect the surface
- Cover the glassine with a sheet of cardboard. This sheet should be large enough to completely cover the mirror or glass, but not so large that it is bigger than the frame itself. You may need to cut the cardboard down to size
- For additional protection for the corners of frames, purchase and affix cardboard corner protectors, specifically designed for this purpose
- Wrap the mirror or artwork in bubble wrap. For extra protection, it’s a good idea to wrap it both vertically and horizontally. Secure the bubble wrap with scotch tape, making sure that the tape is not stuck to any part of the artwork, mirror, or frame, as the glue on tape can leave permanent marks or stains
- Assemble and prepare the box for packing:
- If the box is still flat, assemble it and securely tape all flaps shut. Add as much additional tape as necessary, particularly to the bottom of the box. You don’t want the bottom of the box to give way—you can never use too much tape
- Use scrunched up packing paper or bubble wrap to line the box, creating a soft bed for your artwork or mirror to rest on.
- Place the wrapped mirror or artwork inside the box
- Fill any empty spaces with bubble wrap or scrunched up packing paper. You can gently rock the box backward and forwards; if the mirror or piece of art moves, add some extra packaging material to prevent it from moving
- Securely tape the box shut
- Clearly mark the outside of each box with ‘Fragile’, as well as with an ‘up’ arrow illustrating which way the box should be kept
- Once the box is secure, leave it stacked on its side, rather than laying it flat. This way, if nearby boxes fall over, they won’t land directly on the surface of your mirror or artwork and smash the glass.
General Tips on the Best Way to Pack Pictures, Art and Mirrors for Moving
Keep these tips in mind when safely packing pictures, art and mirrors:
- Make sure that you’re using the right kind of packing materials. Some packing materials can damage artwork. For instance, newspaper can leave stains on canvas, and certain types of parchment paper can scratch glass
- Avoid using polystyrene packing peanuts. They can break up into tiny pieces and get stuck in behind the glass pane on pieces of art
- If your artwork is loose inside a frame, the best way to transport it might be to remove it from the frame altogether, roll it up, and place it inside a cardboard tube. You can then wrap the frame separately in bubble wrap and place it inside a moving box
- If you’re moving a particularly fragile, delicate or antique frame, arrange to have this professionally crated for the utmost protection.