Sending a picture frame by post? Here’s what you need to know to make sure it arrives safely

picture frame

Whether you’re sending a gift, moving house or submitting your work to an art gallery, knowing how to pack framed art properly will make sure your items get to their destination safely.

Below we walk you through the step-by-step process of packing picture frames. Plus, we’ve got a few bonus tips to help you avoid the pitfalls and overcome the challenges. 

How to pack framed art

If you’re packing a picture frame with glass, a bit of careful planning will go a long way. Gather your materials first, then work in layers to protect both the glass and the frame. Follow guidelines from your courier about fragile labelling for packages.

1. Gather your materials

Before you start, make sure you’ve got everything you need to do a good packing job. 

You’ll need:

  • Artist tape
  • Masking tape
  • Packing tape
  • Brown paper
  • Corner protectors
  • Bubble wrap
  • Thick cardboard
  • Packing box
  • Fragile sticker

2. Use artist tape on the glass

If the glass shatters during transport it could damage the artwork. It’s recommended that you use artist tape on the glass. That way, if the glass cracks it will stick to the tape, rather than damage the artwork.

For small to mid sized frames you can apply the tape in a star pattern. Start with a vertical line from top to bottom of the glass, then place a horizontal line from left to right. Finish off with two diagonal lines from corner to corner.

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For larger frames, you should apply the tape in a grid pattern, with several lines of tape from top to bottom and several lines from left to right. This ensures a larger surface area is covered by the tape.

3. Protect the frame

If the frame is not properly packaged, it may get scratched, chipped or broken during transit. It’s a good idea to protect the frame in layers. 

Start by wrapping the frame with brown paper or tissue paper, like you would wrap a present. Then place cardboard corner protectors on each corner.

Next, cut a rectangle the size of the frame out of thick cardboard. Place this on the front side of the frame as an extra layer of reinforcement for the glass. You can secure it in place using masking tape.

Finally, wrap the entire frame in bubble wrap, securing the ends with masking tape. You can add extra layers of bubble wrap if you want more protection for your artwork.

4. Box it up

If you have the original box you purchased the frame in, you can use this. Otherwise, you can purchase a packing box that is big enough to fit the frame and all the padding.

Place a layer of bubble wrap at the bottom of the box before you place the frame inside. If there is space around the frame, pack it with bubble wrap or other padding until it doesn’t move around. 

Place a final layer of bubble wrap on top of the frame before you close the flaps. Then shut the box and secure it with packing tape. Wrap all four sides of the box with packing tape as an extra layer of reinforcement.

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5. Label the package FRAGILE

It’s a good idea to label your package ‘FRAGILE’ even if the courier doesn’t offer a fragile service. Although it’s not a guarantee that your label will protect the frame from bumps along its journey, it will encourage people to handle it with care along the way.

Potential challenges and bonus tips

Sending framed art via post isn’t always easy. There’s a risk that the glass or frame will break on its journey, potentially damaging the artwork. Some couriers and postal services may not accept packages that contain glass and you may need to pay extra for a fragile service.

Consider the alternatives

Before sending framed art in the post, consider if there are more appropriate alternatives. For example, if you want to give a gift to a friend who lives on the other side of the country, consider sending the artwork to a custom picture framer in your friend’s area. That way the frame doesn’t have to travel as far to reach its destination.

If you want to buy a piece of art overseas while on holiday, consider buying the art without a frame. Package it safely in an art tube and post it home or carry it in your luggage. When you get home, take the rolled artwork to your local framing studio to get a custom frame.

Check with your courier

Check with your local postal service or courier whether they accept fragile packages and what the fees are. Also ask what their policy on broken or damaged items is. Some couriers offer insurance as standard, others may offer it as an additional service.

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Consider insurance

If your item is particularly valuable or important to you, consider getting insurance from a third party in case it is damaged during the journey. Postage or shipping insurance can be relatively inexpensive and give you peace of mind when sending your package.

Framing and glass repairs

In the unfortunate event of broken glass or a damaged frame, many custom framing studios offer repair services. In addition to replacing broken glass, they can help you with damaged mat boards, damaged frames and replacement of hangers.

Final thoughts

Whether your framed art is highly valuable in a monetary sense or sentimentally priceless, knowing how to protect it is crucial. Whatever journey your framed art is going on, make sure you pack it safely and speak to your courier about your options. Before sending your framed art off, get professional advice from a custom framing studio about the best way to frame and transport artwork.

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About the Author: Derek John

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