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How to prepare paintings for shipping?

A person painting

Arguably, one of the most important deeds humankind has ever done was inventing art. There are many types of art and many areas in which magnificent works were made that then continued inspiring us to strive for something more. From the dawn of history all the way to modern times, art has been a constant presence in the very soul of our civilization. And that is an undisputable fact. From poems to novels, from movies to music, and from architectural wonders to paintings, art knows no bounds and is able to transcend the very limits of our minds and pushes to go further. Protecting it is a very important task. We have thus prepared a guide on how to prepare paintings for shipping.

You have to prepare paintings for shipping very carefully
Protecting your paintings is a top priority

Another thing that has maintained a constant presence throughout our history is that we like to travel. The restless desire for discovering and trying out something new has driven us throughout the centuries. Though the modern world is mostly entirely known to us, and the borders of the countries are across the world are well established, people still continue to migrate all over the globe. Whether you are hiring expert long distance movers for moving across the USA or even across the ocean, or you are moving on the other side of the city, protecting your possessions is really important. Let no one convince you otherwise. The artwork is especially sensitive when it comes to moving. So, if you have painting and you have to ship them somewhere, you have to be careful.

So, how do you prepare paintings for shipping properly? Firstly, take your time!

Well, firstly, you have to be aware that you should not rush this. Of course, if you have no other choice, and you have to go looking for last minute movers, then the reality is what it is. Still, make sure that you leave as much time as possible to pack all of your belongings properly. Some of them do not require special care, but some do. If you rush with packing them, you may end up in a huge loss. And not just financially, but emotionally also. We all have some items that treasure the most despite them objectively not being the most expensive ones. Paintings often belong in that group, so if you have to send them away, you have to prepare paintings for shipping carefully. 

Special note: Make sure that they are dry

The first thing that you have to do before you start packing them is to make sure that all of the paintings are completely and fully dry. There are some situations when it is possible for the paint to seem dry even though it is actually not. Now, the time that the paint needs to dry depends on a multitude of factors. Firstly, the type and the brand of the paint play a major role. It is best that you do your research about how to dry your paintings. Find out the exact time each of them may need to become dry. This is all about the potential new paintings. If you have a painting for several years, it is obviously dry.

multicolored abstract painting
Different types of paint take longer time to dry, so be careful with this

First steps are crucial

The firsts steps of any undertaking are always really important. Packing by yourself makes an already sensitive section, even more important. So, the first thing to do is to take some glassine paper or some acid-free archival tissue paper. Wrap carefully the painting with it. Do not forget that anything touching the painting’s surface should be of archival quality. However, it is best to avoid touching it with anything as much as possible. You should also definitely avoid touching it with bare hands. If you are going to do that, use white cotton gloves or at least place some acid-free tissue paper between the surface and your hands.

For paintings with four corners, the next step is quite simple. You need four 8 by 8-inch square pieces of glassine paper (some acid-free tissue paper will also do). Take each of those papers and fold them in half across the diagonal. Then, fold them in half again. This will create a triangle pocket. Put them on the four corners of the painting. After that, tape the wrapped painting onto a foam board. You can also use instead of the board, two-ply cardboard. When taping, make sure that you only tape the corners that are covered with protective papers.

There are different layers of protection and they all matter

Moisture is a really dangerous problem to think about when aiming to prepare paintings for shipping. To do this successfully, you will need some glassine-covered artwork. Preferably it should be with plastic sheeting or poly wrap. By using the tape, you can seal any area where moisture can get in through. Make sure that you have done this properly, or all of your efforts will be in vain. Once you do this, the next step is putting on a layer of protective padding. Two layers of bubble wrap should be the perfect amount of protection for any painting. After that, it would be best to put some cardboard protectors the same way that you did the painting itself.

two paintings on a wall
Do not hesitate to spend a bit of extra money to protect the paintings as they are very delicate

Final layers are there to provide extra protection

As we have established, in order to prepare paintings for shipping, you have to be very careful. Final layers are there to provide some extra protection, but also to make storing your belongings a lot easier, whether you will be using storing units for some time first or just shipping paintings via trucks right away. So, what you should do next is to get 2 pieces of foam board for each of the paintings. They should be at least half an inch thick. Put the piece that you have already wrapped between those two foam boards. However, before you do that, make sure that they go beyond all four edges for at least 2 or 3 inches.