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A couple packing their artwork for moving.

How to Pack Paintings & Artwork for Moving

There’s a lot to think about when preparing to move—including how to pack your artwork to avoid damage while moving. No matter if you’re relocating across town or across the country, follow these seven steps to safely transport your artwork to your new home!

Gather Your Supplies

When packing artwork for moving—whether you’ll be temporarily storing your art or unpacking it immediately on arrival—you’ll need an array of moving supplies to keep everything organized and protected. Using acid-free boxes and packing paper helps ensure that your packing materials won’t contribute to the yellowing or deterioration of your favorite artwork and frames. To further safeguard your art, avoid using styrofoam peanuts, newspaper, wax paper, or tissue paper to pack paintings—these materials can damage or leave marks on art and glass. Here’s a list of safe supplies you’ll need for moving artwork:

  • Acid-free boxes in multiple sizes
  • Acid-free packing paper
  • Bubble wrap
  • Masking tape
  • Packing tape
  • Painter’s tape
  • Permanent markers
  • Plastic wrap
  • Scissors
  • Styrofoam or cardboard corner protectors
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Choose Appropriate Moving Boxes

Before you start packing your paintings, you’ll need to select boxes that match the size and shape of your artwork, leaving a little extra room for padding. Usually, you can pack a couple of small and medium-sized pieces of artwork together, but larger pieces should get their own box. You can buy specialty picture moving boxes for this exact purpose—or create your own artwork moving box with extra pieces of cardboard. This option is handy if you can’t find picture moving boxes in the right sizes, especially for large pieces.

Prepare to Pack Artwork

When preparing to move, both you and your space are likely to get dirty. To prevent dirt and dust from harming your artwork, wear clean clothes and find a non-cluttered area to collect and pack your paintings for moving. Lay down a clean blanket for extra cushioning, and ensure you have enough space to set your packing supplies and artwork. Carefully lift your art pieces off the walls to avoid damage, and enlist another person for help if the piece is heavy.

Wrap Unframed Artwork

To pack unframed artwork—like canvas or wood blocks—start by gently wrapping the art in acid-free packing paper (like glassine paper) to protect the paint and ink. Do this as though you’re wrapping a present, securing the edges with masking tape. Then, attach styrofoam or cardboard corner protectors to each corner of the artwork. Next, wrap the piece in a layer of plastic wrap to keep dirt and dust away. Finally, wrap the art in bubble wrap to avoid dents and punctures, and secure it with masking tape.

Protect Framed Artwork

If you’re moving framed artwork, the process looks a little different. Before wrapping the artwork in anything, use painter’s tape to make a large “X” over the glass, extending all the way to the inner edges of the frame. This will help absorb shock and keep any shattered pieces from moving around too much if the glass breaks—and when you unpack, painter’s tape will peel away without leaving a sticky residue. Then, wrap everything the same way as you would your unframed artwork, skipping the plastic wrap step since the glass is already protecting your art from dirt.

Pack the Boxes

Although you’ve wrapped your artwork with care, you still need to be deliberate when packing your moving boxes. If your box is slightly larger than your wrapped artwork, crumple up some packing paper and place it in the bottom of the box to keep things from shifting. Gently place the artwork in the box and close it. Before sealing the box, give it a small shake and listen for any movement to see if you need to add more scrunched packing paper. Once you’re finished, seal everything thoroughly with packing tape. Be sure to label the box with its contents, arrows showing which way is up, and a “fragile” notice, so anyone moving the box knows to be cautious.

Position the Boxes on the Truck

If a box is heavy or awkward, don’t try lifting it on your own—recruit some help and use a trolley to avoid hurting yourself or damaging your artwork. When loading the moving truck, place artwork boxes on their sides, the way the art would hang on the wall. This placement allows the boxes to absorb any shock or pressure better than they would if you laid them flat. Refrain from stacking artwork boxes, but do place them up against heavier items to help prevent shifting during the move. If you have an especially delicate or expensive piece of artwork, consider moving it in your personal vehicle so you have more control over how it’s transferred.


Do you need a safe place to store your artwork while relocating? Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage locations across the country. Find climate-controlled storage near you!