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Damaged Art Is a Crime! Your Guide on How to Ship a Painting Safely

April 16, 2019 Courier

The artist, Hans Hofmann, once said, “Through a painting, we can see the whole world.” When we own a painting or are responsible for its care, we should bear this in mind.

Whether it’s a piece of great art, a family treasure or the result of artistic endeavor, don’t let your paintings get damaged. Read on to learn how to ship a painting, safely.

Prepare Your Working Area

The risk of damage to a painting starts from the moment it is taken down from the wall. In fact, the wall is the safest place for it. Don’t remove it until you have to.

You may be anxious that damage will occur while the painting is in transit. Be aware that damage can occur at any stage of the shipping process including while it is being packed ready for transit.

Prepare a clean clutter free area to work in. A large table or floor area with protective cardboard, cloth or bubble wrap is ideal. Keep sharp tools safely away from the work surface.

Take Pictures

Take pictures before, during and after packing. This will help if you do have some damage and need to make an insurance claim.

Take pictures of the painting from all angles. Include close up shots of details. Include any pre-existing damage.

Continue to take pictures at each stage of packing to show the use of packing materials. Take pictures after packing of the completed job. Take pictures of labels on the outside of the package.

Unframed Paintings

Use glassine paper to wrap the entire canvas. This will protect it from dust and moisture. Using acid-free archive quality paper and tape is essential as other wrapping materials contain chemicals that can damage the painting.

It may be possible to roll a painting but first protect it with a couple of sheets of glassine paper. Put the painting on top of the paper leaving a 2-inch overlap of paper. Paper-based artwork should be face up and canvas or linen-based artwork face down.

Roll gently. Secure with artist tape.

Wrap un-rolled paintings in three layers of bubble wrap. Pay special attention to the corners. Use cardboard to make corner protectors and fasten them to the body of the parcel.

Framed Paintings

Protect the glass in frames painting with tape. Using four strips of artist tape create a star from edge to edge. Don’t put tape on the frame.

Wrap the whole painting in three layers of bubble wrap. Use cardboard to make corner protectors and fasten them to the body of the parcel.

Using Bubble Wrap

Always have the smooth side of the bubble wrap nearest the painting. Don’t allow the bubble wrap to come into contact with the painting or frame. Always have a layer of glassine paper between the painted surface and the plastic.

Two inches of bubble wrap will be sufficient protection for most situations but three is better. Tape seams to reduce the risk of water ingress. Wrap rolled artwork in bubble wrap too.

Extra Protection

Your parcel may be protected against knocks but the strength of the parcel is still only based on the strength of the artwork and frame. It needs protecting from bending and twisting.

Fastening the paining between two foam boards will achieve this. Tape the boards together but don’t apply excessive force.

Shipping Box

Your major worry is how to avoid damage during shipping. Placing the wrapped artwork in a shipping box is not enough. Damage can occur inside the box if the package is able to move.

The key is to make sure there are no spaces inside the box. Packing peanuts are often used in shipping boxes but they are prone to move or settle creating voids. This allows the artwork to move within the box.

Use additional bubble wrap to fill any spaces. Pay particular attention to the top and the bottom of the box. If necessary, wrap the whole parcel again to fill the space.

Tape up the seams of the shipping box with 2-inch heavy-duty packing tape. Don’t use other types of tape. They are not suitable for packing and shipping.

Strengthen the edges with further strips of tape. Pay particular attention to the opening flaps.

Shipping

When it comes to shipping your painting, you have several options. You could use a parcel carrier, freight shipping or furniture movers.

Parcel carriers may be able to handle shipping your painting. Check their size or weight restrictions.

Freight may be the only option for large paintings. Make sure that the freight shipper is able to provide suitable care for artwork. Check if the shipping box has to be palletized.

Furniture movers also move paintings and may offer a packing service too. Be aware that unless they are specialized in moving artwork they may have an overly casual approach. Discuss their service before trusting a valuable piece of art to them.

Insurance

Despite all your care and attention, it is still possible that an accident damages the artwork. In that case, you will be glad you had insurance. It’s possible that you fall back on your insurance only to find that the insurance cover is inadequate.

Check what insurance your carrier provides. Is it sufficient to meet your needs? It can be difficult to understand what is covered but you must persist if you hope to resort to the insurance if the worst happens.

Check the packing requirements of your insurance and keep to them. Understand any valuation requirements and follow them. Understand what the requirements are for making a claim should it be necessary.

How to Ship a Painting

Paintings are shipped safely every day.

It may seem that these guidelines involve excessive work and time but that is how to ship a painting successfully. These steps are necessary to protect the painting from what is a potentially damaging process and get it back to safety, hanging on a wall.

Ready to move your artwork? It’s time to talk to professionals about shipping.