How to Pack and Ship Framed Artwork

Written by Mark Rogers

We’ve already discussed how to pack canvas prints and other art pieces for shipping, but when it comes to packing framed pieces, it’s a totally different ballgame. The best ways to pack and ship framed pieces to ensure they arrive safely include using cling film, using edge guards and corner protectors, having air cushions or insulating foam in the box and around the piece, and having a seriously sturdy box for shipment.

Cling Film

One of the most common ways framed art gets damaged during shipment is the frame separates from the piece and becomes broken in the process. One way to ensure this separation doesn’t occur is to tightly wrap the piece with cling film (which is kind of a stickier version of plastic wrap). Once you have the piece framed and glazed per your specifications, start from the back and wrap the cling film around several times to be sure it’s extra secure. Starting from the back of the piece ensures that there won’t be messy diagonal sections of cling film blocking the front or visual focus of your piece. For good measure, add some packing tape to the back of the cling film to ensure it stays in place.

Edge Guards and Corner Protectors

If you ship a lot of framed artwork, it’s always good to have a large supply of edge guards and corner protectors to use directly on the piece when preparing it for shipment. Plastic or another hard material offers protection to the edges and corners of the frame, however, cardboard also works well for most pieces. Simply tape the corner protectors on each corner of the piece and tape the edge guards around the edges. This adds extra protection and shock absorption during shipment, and there well be less chance the glass or frame will crack.

Air Cushions and Insulating Foam

Another way to ensure the frame and glass doesn’t become damaged in shipping is to use air cushions and insulating foam in the box and wrapped around the piece itself. You can find insulating foam in most home supply centers and hardware stores (e.g., Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.) Make a “foam sandwich” by placing your cling-wrapped piece between two sheets of cut insulation foam. The foam (i.e., the bread) should be slightly larger than the piece itself (i.e. the meat). Use packing tape to bind the two pieces together. Other air cushion-like materials are effective in keeping the frame and glass from breaking and preventing damage to the piece itself. Putting bubble wrap and plastic air cushions, or “air pillows,” around the piece once it’s in the shipping box provides more shock absorption. This ensures the art doesn’t directly receive damaging vibrations and sudden jolts because the air cushions absorb all of the impact. The air cushion will also keep the piece from sliding around in the box, which can also cause severe damage.

Durable Shipping Box

The final piece of the “how to pack framed artwork” puzzle is a durable shipping box. If you have the funds and want to splurge on high-quality shipping boxes, MasterPak’s StrongBox brand boxes have three layers of protection—three layers of foam and cardboard that are as strong as plywood. The multiple layers provide exceptional shock absorption. If this isn’t a feasible option for you, try finding cardboard shipping boxes that are exceptionally thick and are quality construction. In addition to the insulating foam that you taped around the piece itself, you can also use additional pieces of insulating foam to line the inside of the box for extra protection.

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