How To pack A Painting For Shipping

6th November 2019 2 minutes read

How to Package a Painting For Shipment

As an art gallery, one of our most nerve wracking times is when we ship a piece to a new owner. It’s always good to be able to track our artworks around the world, but only when the packing is removed do we find out that the work has survived its journey unharmed and is ready to be installed.

Over many years we have developed a safe, secure method of packing so we thought we could share our tips with you so that you will see how to ship precious items to far flung destinations. In the last few years transportation has become much quicker and efficient. It isn’t unusual to dispatch a package for delivery to another continent & have that package arrive in just a few days.

So to send pieces safely on their way one of the first things we would do is to tape over any glass sitting in front of a painting. We do this because should the glass be broken it will stick to the tape and not cause damage to the painting or the fingers of whoever has to unpack the parcel. Decorators masking tape is best, laid in strips over the glass. If a painting is not glazed wrap in polythene sheeting. This protects the pictures surface against abrasion.

Crucially to prevent damage from hard knocks while in transit the work must be given a hard shell.  This can be achieved by placing 25mm polystyrene either side of the painting, then place hardboard over the polystyrene. The hardboard should overlap the painting and polystyrene by about 2 cms. This gap can then be infilled with strips of polystyrene to protect the edges, then taped together to hold it as a block. To provide cushioning for delicate framed paintings wrap bubble wrap around the entire package and put into a large, thick plastic mailing bag. This gives the painting more protection & also protection from damp or water damage. Materials can be sourced quite easily at any builders merchants, many merchants will cut the hardboard to your dimensions. 

Telescopic art boxes also provide safety for your piece by being made from sturdy double skinned cardboard. We follow the first few steps above just without the hardboard. Use a box larger than the picture by a couple of inches all round so bubble wrap or packaging paper can be wedged inside to give stability & damage protection. You may choose to also use a plastic mailing sack to give water protection.

White Court Art has shipped many many paintings in the last 13 years using the above methods and to date only once had an issue with a delivered painting. In this instance the painting was 72″ x 48″ and behind glass. Yes the glass did break but having taped the front with masking tape the actual painting was undamaged.

Richard Veal