How To Pack Pictures For Moving

How to Pack Pictures for Moving

Whether you have a family heirloom or a piece from IKEA, packing your pictures to move is a time-consuming part of the moving process.

Packing your pictures properly is vital to their safe transit. Using packing paper, bubble wrap, and the right boxes can make all the difference.

Follow these easy steps to have a well-wrapped picture that is ready to move wherever you go.

Table of Contents

Before You Start

Before you get to packing, determine what type of pictures you have to pack.

  • Are your pictures framed?
  • Do they have glass?
  • Are they canvases?

Answering these questions will help you get the right material for your move.


If your picture is framed or a mirror, here is what you will need to pack it properly:

  • Packing paper. Use professional packing paper. Do not use newspapers!
  • Packing tape. Don’t use duct tape as it often does not stick on cardboard as well.
  • A permanent marker. Labelling is the key to making moving straightforward.
  • Bubble wrap. Pictures can be breakable. Treat them with care.
  • Flat foam or cardboard sheets. Padding, padding, padding.
  • Picture/mirror boxes. See note below if you cannot find any. (You can order Mirror Boxes from Amazon if you can afford to wait a day or two)

Additional items you will need if your picture is a canvas:

  • Glassine, acid-free or archival paper. You need this special paper to protect your artwork and to ensure dust and oil do not ruin it during transport.
  • Artist’s tape. Make sure it is acid-free.

If your picture is rolled canvas:

Cardboard Tube

DIY Mirror Box

Can’t find a mirror box? No problem! Follow these instructions to make your own!

You will need:

  • lots of packing tape
  • extra cardboard boxes

Find a box that is bigger than the picture and frame and flatten it. Once you have wrapped your picture, place it on the flattened box and tape it in place. If the box can fold, fold it over to protect the other side. If it does not fold, grab another box, cut it to cover the other side of the picture and tape it in place. Make sure the cardboard covers the whole picture and is secured with tape.

Alternatively, if your picture is not very large or if you have a large enough box, you can place the fully wrapped picture in a regular box. Use plenty of bubble wrap, flat foam, packing paper, and/or blankets to hold the picture vertically in place.

Step by Step Framed Picture Packing Method:

Framed Pictures

1. Protect the art

If the picture is framed and has glass:

Using masking tape, make an X over the glass of the picture to ensure the glass does not shift during moving.

If you have a canvas:

Wrap the canvas completely in acid-free, archival-quality glassine paper to prevent it from getting dirty. Tape in place with acid-free artist tape.

Alternatively, if you did not find glassine paper, use plastic wrap from the kitchen or commercial palette wrap to wrap the artwork face several times and tape to hold it in place.

If you have a rolled canvas:

Place the canvas on top of two pieces of glassine paper that are at least 2 inches bigger than the artwork on all sides.

For paper-based art (drawings, photos, prints, watercolors), place the canvas face up.

For fabric-based art (canvas, linen), place face down. Then carefully roll your piece.

Tape using acid-free artist tape. Then cover in bubble wrap and packing tape in place.

2. Layout the paper.

Place the picture glass side down. It helps if you place a blanket on the floor to ensure that nothing breaks. Wrap the packing paper around the picture as if it were a present.

When the picture is covered in packing paper, tape using masking tape all the way around to ensure the paper does not move.

For additional protection, you can buy corner covers so that the frame does not poke through.

3. Bubble wrap.

Wrap the picture with layers of bubble wrap. Keep the bubble-side facing outward so that it does not accidentally make imprints on the picture. You should have about a two-inch layer of bubble wrap protecting your picture.

4. In the box.

If you’re using a regular box, cover the bottom in the padding of your choice. Place the picture vertically in the box and add more wadded-up paper, bubble wrap, and/or foam boards so that the picture cannot move. Make sure that your padding materials won’t shift during transport.

5. Test-Run.

Move the box around before sealing. Check to see if the picture moves around or shifts before sealing the box. You want to make sure the picture remains vertical during the moving process.

6. Seal the deal.

Seal the box using packing tape. Label the box “Fragile” on all the sides. Include an arrow to make sure the box remains upright the whole time. The last thing you want is for your pictures to shift from the position during transport, especially when you painstakingly packed the box!

7. Moving Day.

On the moving truck, place the picture boxes between heavy boxes (such as book boxes) so that the picture boxes don’t shift during transport.

Helpful Tips On Packing Pictures for Moving:

  • Wrap every picture separately, even if they’re going in the same box. You do not want pictures to scratch during transport!
  • Don’t use packing peanuts. The static from the glass of the picture can make the packing peanuts difficult to remove. They also tend to settle at the bottom of the box, leaving the rest of the picture exposed.
  • Always pack pictures vertically in a box and not flat side down. The pressure can crack the glass if the picture is lying horizontally.
  • Don’t use newspapers. Newspapers can imprint and ruin the picture.
  • Wear gloves to not get your hand oils on the pictures.

Final Thoughts

There you have it: the best way to wrap any type of picture for moving. Hopefully this article will help you get your pictures to your new home safe and sound and ready to be enjoyed on a wall or mantle!

Good Luck with your move!


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

Recent Posts