Wall art

How to Pack Art for a Move So Nothing Breaks

When moving to a new apartment, naturally, you want all your personal possessions to arrive safely and in one piece. But, in even the best-laid moving plans, accidents happen and things get broken. While the odd shattered plate isn’t a big deal, you want to take extra care to protect more valuable, fragile items like pictures, framed artwork and big mirrors.

These packing hacks and moving tips will help ensure your valuable artwork, mirrors, pictures and wall art survive the difficult and unpredictable moving process and arrive in one piece.

Why does my canvas art, artwork or mirrors need special packing and protection?

Packing framed art, mirrors, large pictures, framed photos and art pieces requires specially-designed packing materials and methods. This is on account of their large size, delicate glass or mirror surfaces and elaborate, fragile frames. All sorts of things could go wrong when moving these valuable items, from broken glass to punctured canvases.

In the case of an unprotected canvas painting, you want to ensure the oils or paints don’t get scratched. This applies to framed artwork, as well as good, high-quality picture frames that are also expensive and valuable. Shattered glass or wood splinters from fractured frames also puts you or your movers at risk of injury.

Protecting these fragile pieces goes beyond the practical, though. Paintings, photographs and artwork can have tremendous sentimental value, such as treasured family photos that are one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable.

In the case of artwork, you may also have a monetary incentive to keep it safe. Maybe you have a famous painting in your possession or managed to acquire an art piece from an up-and-coming artist. If you’ve invested a lot of money in your art collection, you want to protect your financial investment.

Finally, in the case of moving mirrors, you want to take extra care. It’s seven years of bad luck if you break it.

Bubble wrap

Getting the right packing material like moving boxes and bubble wrap

You’ll need the right supplies to get artwork, mirrors and pictures safely from Point A to Point B.

Basic packing materials include:

  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing tape
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Packing paper (brown paper or craft paper)
  • Plastic wrap or cling wrap
  • Masking tape
  • Extra protection (wadded newsprint, Styrofoam peanuts, etc.)

Make sure the moving boxes are roughly the same dimensions but slightly larger than your artwork so you can add extra padding and protection. If you need lots of boxes, there are ways to get them for free.

Depending on the type of item being moved, you’ll also need to get the following:

Mirror boxes

While you can use flat picture boxes to move mirrors, you’ll have better success with a mirror box. Mirror boxes have four separate adjustable box sections that fit over a mirror. Their thick, heavy-duty cardboard can handle up to 65 pounds.

Flat moving box for pictures and artwork

In addition to a flat picture box, you’ll also want cardboard corner protectors to keep frame corners from being damaged. If you’re transporting a particularly awkwardly-shaped piece of art like an entire sculpture, you may even need a wooden crate for such heavy objects.

Wall art

How to pack wall art for moving

Before starting to pack paintings or other types of wall art, make sure you have a flat, solid surface to work on that’s clear of debris.

  • Organize your wall art by size. Sometimes, you can stack small- and mid-sized canvases and pack them together in one box, provided each is individually protected by paper and bubble wrap.
  • Pair each piece of art with the right-sized moving box that fits its horizontal and vertical dimensions. Make sure each box is slightly larger than the frame so you can fit extra protection like cardboard corner protectors and bubble wrap around the artwork.
  • Use masking tape or painter’s tape to put a giant X over the glass cover. If the frame glass breaks, it won’t shift around as much or shatter completely.
  • If the artwork in question doesn’t have a glass covering, protect the exposed painted face with palette wrap or several layers of plastic wrap
  • Put cardboard corners onto the corners of the picture frames
  • Similar to wrapping a present, wrap the artwork in packing paper and tape in place
  • Wrap with an extra layer of bubble wrap
  • If you have extra space in your moving box, stuff it with more padding like crumpled newspaper or packing peanuts for added protection. This extra cushion protects the artwork from being jostled too much during moving.
  • Do a final check of your wrapping job to make sure you securely tape everything down
  • Gently slide the wrapped artwork or painting inside the prepared box, tape the box shut and rattle the box to see how secure the picture feels inside. If it’s shifting around too much, add extra filling to the box.
  • Once you’re satisfied the artwork won’t move too much, seal the box closed with packing tape and label the outside as “fragile” and list its contents

Picture frames

How to pack pictures for moving

Packing large pictures for moving has almost the same process as moving wall art and other flat art pieces. But, there’s one extra step you can take to protect that valuable family photo.

After using the masking tape to put an X over the glass, cut out and put a large piece of cardboard, cut to size, over the glass.

You can also use a packing tube to roll up pictures and prints for easier transport.


How to pack mirrors for moving

Packing mirrors for moving has a similar process as packing wall art or pictures, but with some key differences. You’ll still want a flat work face that’s free of clutter.

  • Give the mirror a quick clean before wrapping it up for the move. That way, it arrives at its new home nice and spiffy.
  • Use masking tape to put a big X over the mirror’s reflective surface. The tape helps absorb shock and strengthens the reflective glass against damage.
  • Put large pieces of cardboard, cut to the right size and shape, over the front and back of the mirror and tape them in place so they won’t shift
  • Wrap and tape the mirror in packing paper as you would wrap a present
  • On top of the packing paper, wrap a layer or two of bubble wrap and tape it down. You can also wrap the bubble wrap with plastic wrap for extra strength.
  • Make sure everything is thoroughly taped down
  • Slide the different sections of the mirror box onto each corner of the mirror until they overlap and fit snugly with no gaps. Securely tape along the cardboard edges and at all joined corners.
  • Gently shake the box to see if the mirror rattles too much. If it does, try to fit the box more snugly over the mirror or add extra protection with more wrapping layers.
  • Label the outside of the box as fragile

How to transport mirrors, artwork, pictures and wall art in moving trucks

In the case of artwork, wall art, pictures and mirrors, you should load and store these fragile items on the moving truck in a vertical position. Standing vertically and stacked against a flat surface like the wall of the truck or other tall boxes, the box can better absorb pressure and shock.

Transporting mirrors, wall art and pictures horizontally increases the risk of damage. Other boxes could fall onto them and they won’t shift or move as much during transit. Just make sure they’re firmly set in place to prevent their moving boxes from falling over.

Professional Mover

Can I hire professional movers?

Absolutely! If you don’t feel comfortable transporting these types of items yourself, you can always bring in the pros and hire a moving company to do the heavy lifting.

In fact, there are moving companies that actually specialize in transporting artwork. They’ll know exactly how to wrap and pack artwork to prevent damage and can even store and transport it under the right climate conditions. To find movers that offer this service, you can look for fine art movers in your area. Like most movers, they can likely give you a free quote. Remember to tip well!

Go the extra mile to protect your wall art, mirrors and pictures while moving

Moving is stressful enough without worrying that your cherished artwork, beloved pictures or favorite big mirror will break in transit. That’s why it’s important to follow the proper steps to pack them securely ahead of moving house.


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