During a move, almost nothing is more nerve-racking than moving artwork. Artwork comes in all different sizes and the larger the piece the more difficult the challenge. Oftentimes, too, the larger the piece the more expensive the piece.
The part that makes moving artwork so nerve-racking though is not just the fact that artwork can be some of your most expensive items. It’s the fact that unlike other items, most artwork, especially the pieces we hold nearest and dearest are irreplaceable.
A scratch or crack on a TV can be devastating, but a TV can always be replaced. A piece of artwork, whether it’s a Van Gogh or a painting your nephew painted for you when he was two, can’t just be replaced.
That’s why it’s so important to do your research on how to pack artwork for moving. The good news for you is, you’re here, so you are!
I’ve moved artwork tons of times and have picked up good tips and tricks along the way that have served us well and led to many successful moves. In this article, I’m going to share all those tips and tricks with you so (hopefully!) you can have a successful move too!
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Table of Contents
Bubble Wrap, Packing Tape & Other Supplies
First things first, we need to gather the packing materials that we’re going to need to properly pack our art pieces. Having the right supplies is 90% of the battle when it comes to packing artwork.
Here is everything I recommend to have handy when it’s time to pack artwork:
- TV Moving Box
- Hard Plastic Bins (potentially for smaller pieces)
- Bubble Wrap
- Brown Paper and/or Packing Peanuts
- Packing Tape
A TV Moving Box is a flat, heavy-duty cardboard box that is specifically designed to pack artwork, large mirrors or, as the name suggests, a TV.
Bubble Wrap is going to be your best friend because of its versatility. Bubble wrap can help cushion framed art and keep your canvas art from getting scratched.
Brown Packing Paper and/or Packing Peanuts can also function to remove empty space from moving boxes as well as cushion your art. Finally, tape to secure the box closed.
Pro Tip: I would advise against using crumpled newspaper to cushion your artwork because the ink from the newspaper is capable of bleeding into your art pieces.
How to Pack Small Artwork for Moving
For your smaller pieces of art, you can use a box to place them in. Not just one of the regular cardboard boxes though, make sure to use one of the heavy-duty hard plastic storage bins.
What you have to realize is there is no such thing as a place in the back of the moving truck where a box definitely won’t get smashed. Funny things happen in the back of a truck once that door is closed and you don’t want to leave the security of your artwork to chance.
This is why a heavy-duty container that can withstand weight falling into it without collapsing is so important.
Inside the box itself, make sure to eliminate as much empty space as possible. The less opportunity the pieces have to shift around the better.
Use bubble wrap or whatever materials you have (even t-shirts can work if you’re in a pinch) as a buffer in between pieces. Whatever you think will serve well as a cushion to keep pieces from banging into each other.
Finally, make sure to clearly mark the box as ‘ARTWORK – FRAGILE’.
While you may know what’s in each box, your friends, family or the professional movers packing and unpacking the truck won’t know which boxes have art pieces and which ones are full of clothes. Having fragile boxes clearly labeled will help them know what boxes to be extra careful with.
How to Pack Larger Artwork for Moving
Get a TV Moving Box
Larger art pieces obviously present more of a challenge than smaller pieces, but if packed correctly, your art should arrive in your new home with no issues.
Our first recommendation is to buy TV Moving Boxes for transporting your large artwork like wall art and any bigger canvas paintings.
Many people we talk to aren’t even aware that boxes specifically made for moving TVs even exist, let alone to utilize those same boxes for moving artwork.
These boxes are made from cardboard, but they are much thicker and more durable than your normal cardboard box.
|TV Moving Box Comparison Chart|
|Brand||Size||Cost (as of 5/25/21)||Check Most Recent Price|
|Home Depot||Medium (fits up to 21″ x 36″ art piece)||$16.98||Check Most Recent Price|
|Home Depot||Large (fits up to 39″ x 65″ art piece)||$24.98||Check Most Recent Price|
|Home Depot||Extra Large (fits up to 45″ x 80″ art piece)||$34.98||Check Most Recent Price|
|Lowe’s||Large (fits art up to 39″ x 65″)||$24.98||Check Most Recent Price|
|Bankers Box (via Amazon)||Medium (Total box size 27″ x 37″)||$29.74 (pack of 4)||Check Most Recent Price|
|Bankers Box (via Amazon)||Large (Total box size 33″ x 48″)||$46.39 (pack of 4)||Check Most Recent Price|
We have two Lowe’s boxes that we have used and re-used about half a dozen times. (We move way too often to throw out a $25 box) The only downside to the Lowe’s TV Box is that from what we can tell they only offer the one size.
We have looked at the Home Depot boxes and they appear to be exactly the same as the Lowe’s box. If you need different sizes you may want to check out Home Depot over Lowe’s.
If you need multiple boxes and you have enough prep time then you may want to look into getting your boxes online. A 4 pack of Bankers Box boxes will save you a good chunk of money if you have multiple pieces of art that you need to be protected and a TV or two that needs a box as well.
This is by far the safest way to pack your artwork for moving. These boxes are super rugged and will withstand quite a bit during a move.
Don’t forget, you’ll still want to use bubble wrap to protect your pieces and fill in any extra space. Also, be very mindful about placing the boxes with your artwork near anything that could potentially smash into them. Finally, avoid stacking anything on top of the box.
Utilize your Personal Vehicle
This is a trick we always use during our moves. 99% of your stuff is going to end up in the moving truck during a move. However, if you strategically plan out what you’re going to place in your personal vehicle when you move it can prove to be the safest location during the move.
We always use our cars to transport things like art, TVs and other fragile items. For example, the China my grandmother gave us always goes in the trunk of my car.
If you pack paintings in your car you can keep a close eye on them and you don’t have to worry about items shifting around in the back of a moving truck and compromising your pieces.
Pack Art in the Cab with You
This is similar to using your personal vehicle.
I’ve never had anyone ride in the cab of the moving truck with me during a move. If this is going to be you, then put that space to work!
Some trucks even have a little bit of space behind the seats that make a perfect place to put artwork.
Just make sure to cover it and secure it in place so it doesn’t go sliding back and forth.
The only downside to keeping artwork, or other expensive/irreplaceable items in the cab is if you need to make a stop to spend the night during your move. You do not want to leave valuable items in the cab because a moving truck in a hotel parking lot can draw the attention of would-be thieves.
Final Thoughts on How to Pack Artwork for Moving
Taking the time to plan out how to move artwork for moving is definitely worth every minute.
If you end up with a dent in that bookshelf you bought at Target, it may be annoying, but you’ll get over it pretty quick.
A rip or tear in a piece of framed art that means a lot to you is something that you may never forgive yourself for. Especially if you feel like you were more careless than you should have been.
If you at least take all the steps you can to properly pack and then strategically place the artwork during the move you’ll be able to sleep better at night.
Hopefully, you were able to pick up a tip or trick in this article that will help you get your artwork to your new home safe and sound!