Whether a professionally painted original or a piece your child lovingly created for you, your paintings and unframed artwork need care and consideration when packing. Find out how to pack your paintings and canvases like a professional.

Moving Supplies You’ll Need to Pack Paintings

  • Picture/mirror boxes
  • Packing paper
  • 3-Ply paper packing pads
  • Glassine paper
  • Scissors
  • Artists’ tape
  • Packing tape
  • Permanent black marker

Steps for Packing Your Paintings for a Move

1. Set up a packing station

Either your living room floor or your dining table will make a great place to pack your paintings. Clear the space, so you’ll have plenty of room to work. Lay a blanket on the floor or table, then a stack of packing paper on top of it. An important note here: never use plastic of any kind when packing a painting.

2. Scan your house for all the paintings you will pack

Gather smaller paintings together near your packing station. Leave larger artwork hanging on the wall until you’re reading to wrap them.

3. Wrap paintings covered with glass

Lay an individual painting on the stack of paper. Spread out layers of paper, if the frame is exceptionally large. You should place valuable paintings and artwork on a 3-ply paper pad for added protection. With artists’ tape, put an “X” from corner to corner on the glass. This step will stabilize the glass, but if it does happen to break, the pieces won’t shatter and cut the canvas. Place a piece of cardboard that is slightly larger than the frame, over the glass.

Wrap several layers of paper up and around the painting, or wrap with the padded paper pad, and secure the loose ends with packing tape. Label the wrapped art with a permanent black marker.

4. Paintings with the canvas exposed

Cut a piece of glassine paper three inches larger than the canvas, then turn it over on top of the glassine paper. Wrap the glassine up around the back of the painting and secure it to the wooden stretcher frame with artists’ tape.

Next, wrap thick layers of bubble wrap or packing paper (for a more eco-friendly option) around the painting and secure them with packing tape. Only use packing tape on the packing paper, never on the canvas. Label the back of the wrapped canvas with a permanent black marker.

5. Box the wrapped paintings

Large paintings should be boxed individually in picture/mirror boxes. You can pack smaller paintings together in a medium-sized moving box. Be sure to keep each item stacked vertically. Do not lay them flat.

Line the bottom of the box with crumpled packing paper, then carefully add the wrapped paintings to the box. Fill all of the open space with additional crumpled packing paper.

6. Tape the box closed and label the contents

Label the box, ‘Painting,’ and include the destination room. In large lettering, write ‘fragile’ on all sides and the top of the box.

Especially valuable or fragile paintings may be safer if moved in custom-made crates. Great Guys Moving can match you with top-tier fine art moving companies who are skilled and experienced at relocating your most valuable paintings.