5 Steps to Keep Your Artwork Safe During a Move

5 steps for protecting paintings during a move

Nothing reflects your style and taste more than your collection of unique paintings and artwork. Whether you collect dramatic oil paintings, colorful acrylics, or delicate watercolors, you treasure each piece. But by their nature, paintings are fragile and especially vulnerable to damage during a move. 

Of all your possessions, paintings need to be wrapped and packed with specific skill so that they will survive their move unscathed. Your one-of-a-kind pieces simply can’t be replaced and that’s why Samba Moving shares our 5 key steps for the ultimate protection of your paintings during your move.

How to Pack Your Artwork

Gather parchment paper, bubble wrap, painters tape, art/mirror boxes, heavy-duty square boxes, packing tape, and a permanent marker, then:

1. Around a Large Table or Work Space, Sort the Paintings by Type and Size. 

  • Type of Painting:
    • Paintings that are covered with glass will need to have blue painter’s tape applied to the glass in the shape of an X. Be sure to use wide tape and cover the glass from corner to corner. The tape will prevent the glass from damaging the artwork in case the glass shatters.
    • Paintings such as oil or acrylics that are exposed and not covered with glass must be covered with glassine before they’re wrapped. Never place plastic or bubble wrap directly against the surface of a painting or directly against a frame. Plastics can remove paint and damage finishes.
  • Size of Art: 
    • Plan to group several small pieces together in a box after they are carefully wrapped. Small, well-wrapped pieces can support each other within a box.
    • Plan to dedicate one heavy-duty art/mirror box for large pieces and artwork that is contained in heavy frames.

2. Attach Cardboard Corners  

Even after wrapping, the corners of frames can easily be dented if they don’t have added protection. To avoid damage to the frame, place cardboard corners before wrapping. Many frames are designed to enhance a painting and are integral to the art itself. Be sure the corners of each frame are carefully protected.

3. Wrap 

Each painting must be wrapped separately. It can be tempting to group paintings together and then wrap them but this is a method that invites damage.

  • First wrap each piece with parchment paper. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the table. It should be about three to four times the size of the painting. 
  • Place the painting upside down on the paper, then wrap the entire piece so that it has several layers of paper to protect it. Tape the paper in place with painter’s tape.
  • Repeat the same wrapping process with bubble wrap. Place a sheet of bubble wrap on a table, making sure it’s at least three times the size of the artwork.
  • Place the artwork upside down on the bubble wrap. 
  • Wrap the bubble wrap around the piece so that it has several layers of protection and tape in place with blue painters tape.

4. Utilize Art/Mirror Boxes and/or Heavy Duty Square Cardboard Boxes

  • Use art/mirror boxes for large heavy paintings. Place several small paintings in heavy duty square boxes. 
  • Crumple bubble wrap into the bottom of the box. Carefully place the wrapped piece of art in the box. 
  • Fill the airspaces with crumpled newspaper or bubble wrap. Give the box a slight shake to make sure the wrapped art doesn’t move.

5. Label the Box 

  • With a permanent marker, label the sides and top of the box with a 
    • description of the artwork 
    • the location in your new home where it will be placed (i.e. “living room”)
    • the word ‘fragile’, especially for pieces that contain glass.
  • Mark each side with a large arrow pointing up so the box won’t get tossed and turned upside down during the move.

Note: Professional movers are trained in state-of-the-art methods of caring for paintings and artwork during a move. If keeping your artwork safe during your relocation is a priority, and you don’t have the time or confidence to wrap your paintings on your own, hiring a professional white-glove service to handle your art is well worth the expense.


Paintings add so much beauty and richness to our homes. No wonder so many people who are moving get stressed over the best way to pack and move their art. Damaged frames are very difficult to repair and often need to be completely replaced. Shattered glass can cut into fine art paper and absolutely ruin a painting. Using plastic is a sure way to damage the surface of an oil painting. 

Avoid these potential problems and get a free moving quote from Samba Moving. Our skilled and thoughtful crews are trained to handle your art with ultimate care and professionalism. That’s why we call our NYC art moving service “white-glove”. Ask for a free quote today!