Moving Paintings and Artwork Safely During Your Move

Imagine the excitement of unwrapping your precious paintings, ready to hang them in your new house. But wait! Your heart sinks as you discover they've been damaged during the move. Moving paintings is an art in itself, in this guide, we'll show you the best way to pack and move your paintings so your pieces arrive undamaged and ready to display.

13 min read

Moving Paintings and Artwork Safely During Your Move

Key takeaways

  1. Use high-quality materials like bubble wrap, acid-free paper, and glassine paper for optimal protection.
  2. Assess, clean, and photograph paintings pre-move; remove protruding hardware and ensure proper insurance.
  3. Utilise different methods for framed and unframed paintings, ensuring proper cushioning and protection.
  4. Keep paintings upright, secure them from shifting, and consider climate-controlled transport for sensitive pieces.
  5. Unpack paintings carefully, allow them to acclimate to the new environment, and inspect for damages.
  6. In the new space, consider lighting, humidity, and traffic when deciding where to hang paintings.
  7. For valuable or complex pieces, especially during long distance moves, enlist expert art moving professionals.

Imagine the Mona Lisa getting damaged during a move. Unthinkable, right? While not everyone would have a priceless Mona Lisa or stunning Van Gogh sitting at home. Yet, every day, countless paintings, some priceless and others with sentimental value, face the risks of moving. Welcome to the intricate world of moving paintings, a task that blends the finesse of art handling with the practicalities of relocation. Wall art are not just décor; they are stories, emotions, and investments wrapped in canvas. Moving artwork safely is about preserving these values. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything from the initial preparation to the final placement of your paintings in their new home. We'll cover the essential materials needed for packing to the different packing techniques and the role of professional movers. So, let's embark on this journey to move your cherished paintings safely with the care and respect they deserve.

Understanding the value of paintings

Paintings are so much more than just decorations. They hold history, emotion, and personal value. In this section, we're going to dive into the many reasons why every piece of artwork deserves to be treated with utmost care when moving them.

  1. Sentimental value: Pictures or large artwork can be irreplaceable treasures. They might remind us of a special memory, a gift from a loved one, or a milestone in our lives. That's why it's crucial to transport them safely, considering the emotional attachment we have to them.
  2. Financial value: Art can also be an investment. Original works by renowned artists, or even emerging ones, can hold significant monetary value. So, it's essential to ensure their condition during a move to maintain or even increase their worth.
  3. Artistic value: Canvas wall art and fabric paintings are expressions of creativity and culture. They can be like time capsules, capturing a moment or telling a story. Preserving their integrity during a move helps maintain their significance in our culture.
  4. Condition and age: The age and condition of a painting can greatly affect its value. Antique and delicate artworks need special attention during a move, such as climate controlled to protect them from any damage caused by environmental factors or mishandling.

Recognising these different aspects of value really drives home the importance of being careful when moving and handling these beautiful artworks. And as we dive into the next sections about materials and packing techniques, let's keep in mind that every step we take is an investment in preserving their value. So, let's get started and make sure these precious pieces stay safe and sound!

Materials needed for packing paintings

The correct supplies not only protect your artwork from physical damage, but they also shield it from environmental factors like moisture and temperature changes. So, here's a list of materials you'll need:

  1. Bubble wrap: Is essential for cushioning. Opt for bubble wrap with large bubbles to provide better shock absorption.
  2. Corrugated cardboard boxes or specialised art crates: The box or heavy duty crate should be slightly larger than the painting. Custom-sized crates are ideal for high-value or fragile artworks.
  3. Packing paper or acid-free paper: Useful for wrapping and protecting the surface of the painting. Acid-free paper is recommended for delicate or aged artworks to prevent chemical damage.
  4. Glassine paper: Glassine paper is readily available at art supply stores, it's a smooth, glossy paper that is air, water, and grease proof. It's perfect for art handling and ideal for an initial layer of protection, especially for unframed or delicate paintings. Its acid-free, non-abrasive qualities protect the paintings surface from any potential smearing as well.
  5. Artist's tape or painter's tape: This tape is gentle on surfaces, doesn't leave marks and ideal for securing bubble wrap or paper.
  6. Roll of twine: Helps keep the packing paper together after the painting is wrapped.
  7. Corner protectors: Essential for framed paintings such as portrait painting to protect the corners from impacts.
  8. Packing material, peanuts, foam or shredded paper: Useful for filling extra space in the box or crate to prevent movement.
  9. Labels and markers: To label each box and to ensure careful handling.

Preparation before packing

Proper preparation is key to ensuring the safe transportation of your paintings. Here's how to prepare your artwork before you start packing:

  1. Before packing, inspect each painting for any existing damage or peculiarities. Note these conditions as they may require special handling or packing techniques.
  2. Gently clean the painting's frame and glass (if applicable) with appropriate cleaners. Avoid touching the paint surface, especially for older or more fragile artworks.
  3. Measure your paintings to select the right size of packing materials. Remember to account for any protruding elements, like frames or decorative details.
  4. If possible, remove any protruding hardware from the frame to prevent it from damaging the painting during the move. Wrap these elements separately and reattach them upon arrival.
  5. Take detailed photographs of each painting before packing. This serves as a record of their pre-move condition and can be crucial for insurance purposes.
  6. Ensure that all parts of the painting and frame are secure. Tighten any loose screws on the frame, and if the canvas is loose, consider having it professionally tightened.
  7. If you're moving in extreme temperatures or humid conditions, plan for climate control. Especially for pieces that use fabric painting and oil painting. This might involve selecting specific packing materials or arranging a climate-controlled transport environment.
  8. Review your insurance coverage for the artwork during the move. If necessary, consider purchasing additional art insurance for high-value pieces.

Preparing your artwork meticulously not only protects them during the move but also gives you peace of mind. With these steps complete, your artworks will be ready for the next crucial phase – packing.

Packing techniques for different types of paintings

Properly packing paintings is super important to keep them safe during a move. The way you do it depends on whether the painting is in a frame or not, and how old and valuable it is. So, here's a handy guide on how to pack different types of paintings:

How to pack framed paintings?

Step 1 - Mark an 'X' - Use painter's tape to mark an "X" on the glass of the frame. The "X" provides some additional support to the glass, making it slightly more resistant to impacts or pressure that might occur during a move. It also serves as a clear indicator to anyone handling the package that there is glass, and it should be handled with extra care.

Step 2 - Glassine layer - Start by covering the painting with glassine paper to protect the surface. You can hold the paper together by tapping it up with painter's tape. Being extra careful not to tape directly onto the canvas, painting or artwork.

Step 3 - Protect the corners - Apply corner protectors to the frame for additional protection.

Step 4 - Bubble wrap artwork: Bubble wrap the framed painting, ensuring all sides and corners are well cushioned.

Step 5 - A final paper wrap - Do a final wrap of the framed painting or framed artwork with packing paper or acid-free paper and secure with artist tape or twine.

Step 6 - Box or crate - Place the wrapped painting in a box or crate that fits snugly. If you have large picture boxes, great! You can individually box large artwork. If you have several wrapped paintings of similar but smaller sizes, make sure the glass is facing the same direction and you can box them together. Remember to fill any gaps with packing peanuts or foam to prevent movement but don't over fill. This gives a little wiggle room.

Step 7 - Seal the box and label - Finally seal the box with packing tape. You can now label the contents of the box with 'Framed Paintings'. Mark with appropriate label such as 'Fragile' and 'Handle with Care', 'Do Not Stack' with 'This Side Up' to make sure the paintings are moved with extra attention taken and care by the movers.

How to pack unframed paintings?

When you're packing unframed artwork or canvases, it's important to take some precautions. Instead of just using bubble wrap directly on the painting, which can cause it to stick to the painting in extreme conditions. You can cover it with glassine paper. This way, you avoid any potential sticking or smudging and smearing of the paint.

Step 1 - Glassine paper - Simply secure the glassine paper with painter's tape, making sure it only touches the backing and not the canvas.

Step 2 - Cardboard sandwich - Create a sandwich with two pieces of cardboard larger than the painting. Place the painting between them and tape the cardboard pieces together. This works well especially for pieces of canvas artwork.

Step 3 - Wrap, box and label - Follow the same wrapping, boxing and labelling as for framed paintings. Ensure to wrap artwork well secure before boxing with packing tape and labelling.

Special considerations for antique or high-value paintings

Antique pieces and high-value paintings are not just artworks; they are treasures of history and significant financial assets. These paintings demand extra attention due to their unique characteristics and vulnerabilities. If you have the need to move these paintings we highly recommend these precious artworks, be handled with professional care:

  1. Why professional handling?
    • Fragility: Antique paintings or large canvas wall art may have delicate layers of paint and aging canvas that are more susceptible to damage.
    • Value preservation: For high-value pieces, any damage can significantly depreciate their worth. Fabric paint is one that needs special care to preserve the value making professional packing and handling a wise investment.
    • Complex requirements: Large paintings often have specific climate and handling requirements that go beyond standard packing techniques.
  2. Use professional art packing services - Trained art handlers understand the nuances of packing valuable and antique artworks, using materials and techniques that provide the best protection.
  3. Use custom built crates - Custom-built crates provide tailored protection, accommodating the unique size, shape, and fragility of each piece. These crates are designed to mitigate risks during the transportation and moving of these paintings.
  4. Climate-controlled transport and storage - Temperature and humidity fluctuations can be detrimental to antique and high-value paintings including oil paintings. Professional art movers often offer climate-controlled transport and storage solutions, ensuring the artwork's environment remains stable and safe.
  5. Insurance considerations - Ensure that your artwork is covered by insurance that specifically caters to its value and nature, especially during transportation and storage.

When it comes to antique or high-value paintings, the cost of professional handling is a small price to pay for the preservation and safety of these irreplaceable artworks. Expert care, custom crating, and climate-controlled environments are essential components of safely relocating these precious pieces.

Transporting the paintings

Once your paintings are properly packed, the next critical step is to move the paintings safely. Here are key guidelines to ensure your artwork arrives at its destination in perfect condition:

  1. Loading the artwork
    • Pack paintings onto the moving vehicle carefully. For boxed up paintings, make sure they are loaded last so they are on top of other boxes and is not stacked on top of each other.
    • For individually wrapped paintings and artwork, avoid placing them flat, as objects might be placed on top of them. Instead, position them vertically, like books on a shelf.
    • Ensure that all canvas wall art are not pressed against sharp edges or rough surfaces that could puncture or scratch the packaging and canvas itself.
  2. Securing the paintings
    • Use straps or bungee cords to secure the large artwork in place, preventing any sliding or shifting during transit.
    • Be careful not to apply too much pressure, which could damage the frames or the artwork itself.
  3. Avoiding temperature fluctuations and moisture
    • Extreme temperatures and humidity can damage portrait paintings. Where possible, use climate-controlled transportation, especially for long-distance moves or in areas with extreme weather conditions.
    • If climate control is not an option, avoid leaving the artwork in a vehicle for prolonged periods, especially in very hot, cold, or humid environments.
  4. Positioning in the moving truck
    • Pack paintings away from direct sunlight and heat sources like the truck's heating or exhaust systems.
    • Place them in a stable, upright position, ensuring they won't topple over.
  5. Professional moving services:
    • For high-value, oversized, or particularly delicate paintings, consider using professional moving services that specialise in art transportation. They will have the expertise and equipment to handle your artwork safely.
  6. Check and double-check:
    • Before setting off, double-check that all paintings are securely positioned and protected. A quick but thorough check can prevent a lot of potential problems.

By following these transportation guidelines, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with moving paintings. The key is to be meticulous and never rush the process, ensuring every piece of artwork is given the attention and care it needs during the move.

Working with professional movers

When it comes to transporting valuable artwork, things can get pretty complex. You need specialised skills and equipment to handle it properly. That's why working with professional removalists, especially those who have experience with art, can be a smart move. So, here's what you should keep in mind when you're thinking about hiring professional moving services for your precious paintings:

When to hire professional movers for moving painting?

Consider hiring a professional art mover when your painting is:

  • High-value artwork - If your paintings are of significant monetary or sentimental value, professional movers can offer the necessary expertise.
  • Large or complex pieces - Oversized or uniquely shaped paintings might require special handling that only professionals can provide.
  • Long-distance moves - For moves that involve long distances or challenging transport conditions, professionals can ensure safe and secure transit.

What to look for in professional movers?

  • Look for movers who specialise in transporting art. They will have the right equipment, techniques, and experience.
  • Ensure the moving company offers adequate insurance that covers the full value of your artwork during transit and handling. Otherwise consider third-party art insurance.
  • Research their reputation. Look for reviews or testimonials from previous clients, especially those with art moving experiences.
  • A reputable mover will offer a consultation to assess your specific needs and provide custom solutions for packing and transporting your art.

Additional services

  • Many art movers also offer services like custom built crating, climate-controlled transportation, and installation services, which can be invaluable for ensuring the safety of your artwork.

Cost vs. value

  • While professional movers might be more costly than standard moving services, the investment is often justified by the peace of mind and the reduced risk of damage to your valuable artwork.

Coordination and communication

  • Discuss every aspect of the move with your chosen art movers, from packing to transport to unpacking, to ensure all your needs are met.

When it's time to unpack

When it comes to unpacking your paintings, taking care is just as important as packing them. You want to make sure your artwork stays in top condition after the move. So, let's talk about how to approach the unpacking and post-move care, shall we?

  1. Unpacking carefully
    1. Unpack each painting one at a time removing it from the moving box, giving each your full attention.
    2. Lay it flat on a table or bench top where you have plenty of space to unwrap without anything in the way.
    3. Remove the outer layers of the packing paper gently, being mindful not to cut too deeply with knives or scissors to avoid damaging the artwork.
    4. Then slowly undo the bubble wrap and if you used any cardboard paper to sandwich protect the painting, remove it carefully as well.
    5. You should now be left with some corner protectors to remove if you have a framed painting. Then carefully remove the glassine paper and if it's an unframed painting you will have glassine paper directly on the painting, the important thing is to carefully peel it away to avoid disturbing the artwork, especially if it's old or fragile.
  2. Access the condition
    1. Once unwrapped, inspect each painting for any signs of damage that might have occurred during the move and ensure that the frames and glass is still intact and did not break into pieces.
    2. Compare the current condition to the pre-move photographs for any discrepancies.
  3. Acclimatising the piece
    1. Allow the paintings to acclimate to the new environment, especially if there's a significant change in temperature or humidity. This helps prevent condensation or the canvases from becoming too tight or loose.
  4. Immediate care
    1. If any minor damages are detected, such as scratches or chips, consider having them professionally restored.
    2. Clean any dust or debris from the move off the frame and glass (if applicable) using appropriate cleaning materials.
  5. Placement in the new space
    1. Before hanging the paintings, decide on their placement. Consider factors like lighting, humidity, and traffic in the area.
    2. Avoid direct sunlight or spots with drastic temperature changes, as these can cause long-term damage.
  6. Professional assistance
    1. If you're unsure about the best placement or need help with hanging heavy or large paintings, don't hesitate to seek professional assistance such as an interior designer.

Unpacking and setting up your paintings in their new location with care not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your space but also preserves the integrity of the artwork. Treat each piece with respect and attention, and they will continue to be sources of joy and beauty in their new home.

Final thoughts

As we reach the end of our guide on moving paintings, let's recap the essential takeaways. Moving paintings, whether they are personal treasures, investment pieces, or artistic masterpieces, requires more than just careful packing and handling. It's about preserving their beauty, integrity, and value for years to come. We've covered the importance of using the right materials, the nuances of packing different types of paintings, and the critical role of transportation and post-move care. We've also emphasised the situations where enlisting professional movers becomes not just a convenience but a necessity.

Don't forget, every step in the process of moving a painting - from assessing and prepping to finding its new spot - plays a role in keeping it safe. Whether you're a seasoned art collector or just have a beloved piece of wall art, following these tips will help your paintings survive the move.

In conclusion, the art of moving paintings is as much about understanding their value as it is about the practical steps of packing and transporting. By following these guidelines, you can make sure that your artwork arrives safely at its new destination, ready to enrich your space and continue telling its story.

We hope this guide has been informative and helpful. For those seeking further assistance or professional moving services, don't hesitate to reach out to fragile removal experts. Safe moving, and may your paintings continue to be a source of joy and inspiration in their new home.


Disclaimer: While this article provides useful guidelines, it's not an infallible protection method for your art pieces. For the relocation of artwork that holds significant sentimental or financial value, we highly advise seeking guidance from a knowledgeable and proficient art handler to guarantee the utmost preservation of the artwork's original quality during a move.

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