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How to: Pack and Move Your Art

Packing your framed artwork is one of the most stressful and time-consuming parts of moving. Your pieces are important - they define you! - and the last thing you want is to damage your child's first painting, your framed diploma or a valuable artwork. You want it to show up to the new location, ready to hang again!

Our partners at FlatRate Moving have a number of excellent tips to pack your paintings, photos and other framed pieces.

The key is: Don't get intimidated. These are important, expensive items but with this essential guide and some time investment, you can pack your art to near-professional levels.

Tip #1: Come Prepared

Make sure you find the right materials to pack your art. Buy new boxes roughly the same size and shape of what you are moving to minimize the risk of damage. Find acid-free tissue paper, or use a sheet or pillow-case to protect both sides of a painting. Avoid old newspaper or paper towels, which could damage your art. You'll also need materials to cushion your art inside the box, so pick up some bubble wrap (or polyurethane paper) and additional smaller pieces of cardboard.

Depending on the worth of your items, consider investing in boxes specifically designed for moving art. There are options for framed art, unframed prints and other types of work. While it might put a dent in your budget, the peace of mind it brings is priceless.

Tip #2: Prep the Patient

You'll need to prepare all your artworks to be shipped. This begins with cleaning. Dust it off before you pack it. Odds are it has been on the wall for a while! Work in a clean area free from dirt, grime or liquid.

You will want to protect glass frames with painters tape. The low-tack adhesive will stick well enough, but leave no film behind, unlike most masking tape. Taping the corners may seem like an annoying extra step, but it could be the difference that prevents a cracked frame when you get to your new home. If your pictures are framed with Plexiglass, like all Framebridge pieces, you can skip this step. Tape should never touch the frame or directly encounter the piece as it's adhesive could cause serious damage.

As a final step, securely wrap your items in bubble wrap or polyurethane paper, to create a moisture and thermal barrier. Tape the bubble wrap so it doesn't come undone in transit.

Tip #3: Pack Carefully and Diligently

Now you're ready to put your artwork inside the box, Start by placing a cushion of tissue paper at the bottom and slide in your work above it. Place strong pieces of cardboard on either side of a painting, to protect it. Multiple pieces of cardboard can help prevent bending. Once the piece fits securely, you can fill the remainder of the box with tissue paper and securely tape it up for transport.

As a last step, label the contents on the outside of the box so you can easily locate it later. Clearly label your expensive packages, so movers (or friends helping out) know to treat those boxes with extreme care.

Lightning round

Here's a few more helpful tips to keep in mind as you plan your move:

  • Roll it up. Don't do this for limited edition prints (and certainly not for paintings) but if you have unframed posters or reprints, you might want to consider a packing tube. It can save space.
  • Don't procrastinate. Use the days and weeks leading up to your moving day to get your artwork prepped and packaged. Properly securing your works will take time and rushing to package as the move approaches will increase the risk of damage.
  • When in doubt, consult an expert. Contact the art department at your local college or university to see if they have available information. Inquire at a museum in or near the closest major metro area. The volume of packages going in and out of those places means curators have seen nearly everything relating to packing and moving artwork.

While following all these tips can make packing your own art simple and problem-free, you still may want to enlist the help of professionals. FlatRate Moving offers packing services and its employees have many years of experience handling artwork & other valuable belongings.