Easy Guide to Packing and Moving Artwork, Pictures & Frames

Family pictures in frames
Image Source/Getty Images.

If you're moving and have family photos, large pieces of artwork or other framed prints that you treasure, you need to know how to prepare them for moving so you don't end up with broken glass or chipped frames.

Use the Right Packing Material

To pack smaller pictures and frames, you can use a medium sized moving box that is clean and its bottom solid. I recommend packing with used boxes whenever you can, not only to save money but also to not add waste to the environment.

Just remember if you decide to pack with used boxes, make sure they're clean and dry and that the box will hold. 

If you're moving large pieces of artwork, it's best to pack each piece in a separate specialty box that is slightly larger than the frame you're packing.  You can purchase specialty boxes at a moving supply store or from a truck rental agency.  Office supply stores also have boxes for purchase. 

If you can't find specialty boxes, take apart a used box and flatten it. You'll need a box that is bigger than the picture and frame.

You'll also need brown packing paper or linens,  bubble wrap or other soft material to wrap and protect the frame. Packing tape and a marker are also needed.

Wrap the Picture and its Frame

Lay out the brown paper flat on your work surface.  If you're packing a large picture and frame, lay out the paper so the ends overlap to create a paper area that is twice the size of your frame.

  Lay the frame  glass side down against the paper.  Wrap the ends of the paper around the frame just like a present.

Wrap the packing tape all the way around the frame both lengthwise and width wise.  This will ensure the paper stays in place during the move.

If you're packing small photos and frames, and are packing them together into a moving box, I still recommend wrapping each one in packing paper.

  You want to ensure the glass doesn't break during the move.

Box It Up

If you're using a specialty box, make sure you tape one end of the box closed.  Stand the box on the sealed end and gently slide the wrapped frame into the box. If you're having a hard time getting it to fit. ask a friend to help hold the box.

If you're not using a specialty box place the frame on top of the flatten box that you took a part earlier, and secure it using packing tape.  If the flat box is large enough that it can be bent around the frame, bend it then secure it with tape.  If the box won't wrap, you can either cut the box up, creating individual cardboard pieces, or disassemble another box and use that to protect the exposed side.

I've also moved large pieces of artwork with securing cardboard to the glass side only and as long as you or the movers are careful, this works well.

Mark the outside of the box, on both sides, "Fragile" and its location; living room, bedroom, kitchen, etc...

Where to Put it on the Moving Truck

When packing the box and loading it on the moving truck, keep the packed picture on its side, not flat. The picture will absorb pressure easier on its edge than when flat.

Other Tips for Packing and Moving Framed Prints or Photos

  1. If you want additional protection for the corners of your picture frames, you can purchase specialized cardboard protectors just for this purpose.
  1. Stack series of packed pictures on their edges inside a wardrobe box. Make sure they're secure by packing objects around them.
  2. On the moving truck, pack pictures on their edges and in a place where they won't fall over. Wedge them between heavy objects that will not shift during the move.

What You Need:

  • Appropriate size box
  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing Tape
  • Marker
  • Pictures in their frames