How to Pack and Ship a Painting Using Bubble Wrap

What You'll Need
Bubble wrap
Styrofoam strips and sheets
Mailing tube
Acid-free glassine paper

Shipping paintings can be nerve racking no matter how much bubble wrap you use. Bubble wrap is useful protection but it is only an additional level. The major protection for your painting is the box it is shipped in.

Step 1 – Check That the Painting is Dry

Oil paintings can take months to dry so if you are shipping an oil painting you must ensure that it is dry. If the painting is not dry all the way through it could be smudged through to the surface.

Step 2 – Painting not Framed

If the painting you want to ship has not been framed it is much easier to ship.

  • Wrap the painting around a wide cardboard tube with the paint side in.
  • If there is any doubt about the dryness of the paint you should put a sheet of acid-free glassine paper between the painting and the cardboard tube.
  • Wrap the painting and tube in two or three layers of bubble wrap, tucking the loose edges into the tube and tape the bubble wrap.
  • Put the tube and the painting into a larger mailing tube. If the fit is too loose you can put scrunched up bubble wrap in some of the empty spaces.

Step 3 – Picture Stretched but not Framed

A picture that is simply stretched ready for framing can be carefully wrapped for shipping.

  • Just in case the plastic of the bubble wrap can react with the oil paints, cover the picture with a layer of acid-free glassine paper.
  • Wrap the picture in several layers of bubble wrap and fold the corners neatly.
  • Pack the picture in a flat cardboard box.
  • Make sure that the sides of the box are reasonably rigid to protect the picture.
  • Put strips of Styrofoam around the edges of the picture so that it cannot move within the box.
  • If the box is too deep, take up the extra space with sheets of Styrofoam.

Step 4 – Picture Framed

A framed picture needs protection for the picture and for the frame.

  • Use acid free glassine paper to cover the picture if it is not behind glass.
  • Wrap the picture and the frame in several layers of bubble wrap.
  • Fold the corners of the bubble wrap carefully and make up some cardboard corner caps for the frame.

The picture should be packed into a special wooden crate. Within the crate any spaces that could allow the picture to move should be filled with scrunched up bubble wrap or Styrofoam strips.

No matter how well packaged your picture is you need to have it moving by the fastest route. Make sure that the carrier you have chosen will take the most direct route. If the picture has value, you should also make sure that you have a valuation before delivery and that you have enough transit insurance.