Thursday, April 29, 2010

How to Box a Painting for Shipping

I ship about 50 paintings a year. Most of them are oils on Gallery Wrap canvas. Here's how I do it.

1. I put the painting in a plastic bag. For small paintings I use 2 gallon zip bag, for large I use giant bags I get at Home Depot. This is just a tall kitchen bag.

2. I cut 3/4" styrofoam sheeting from Home Depot or Lowes the same size as the painting. I cut side strips 3 1/2" wide (the width of the canvas plus the width of the styrofoam x3) . 

3. I build the styrofoam 'box' around the painting putting 2 sheets of foam on the face of the painting

4.I put extra pieces of foam on the corners and center sides for extra protection. If I'm shipping a framed painting I put 2 full layers on the sides.

5.I get Four Part Mirror Boxes from a moving company like Allied Van Lines. I like these because the largest paintings I ship are 30 x 40 & 36 x 36. Because of the overlapping of the cardboard I have extra layers in the center of painting. Makes for a sturdy box.

6. I fold and tape the cardboard box around the styrofoam box

7. Done and ready to ship. I won't guarantee that your painting will be safe with this method but it's worked well for me. The cardboard boxes cost me about $8 and the styrofoam about $11 plus tape so the total cost is around $20.  


  1. Thank you for sharing in such detail making it very easy to understand!
    Your work is just lovely!

  2. Great info, K! Do you glue the styrofoam together? I didn't see an duct tape, so I was guessing it's glue. Your last blog was very necessary, too. (BTW, CPSA is Colored Pencil Society of America.) Your point is well taken!
    You should compile all your tips into a book.
    All the best - Linda

  3. Linda, No, I use the same clear, packing tape that I use on the box to hold the styrofoam together

  4. Now K. When for instance the Gallery returns a painting to you do they have instructions to go to the effort you do to package the painting properly or do they generally turn the kid in the back room loose to get it ready for shipment? Is this what happened to the recently damaged painting? I was going to ask some other questions but I think this is enough,Bye John Harmon

  5. *Sigh* John, it really depends on the gallery. Some of the galleries do excellent work, others, not so good. I often wonder "Do they ship to the customers like this???!!!"
    My recently damaged painting never got to me so I can't make any comments on how it was packed.
    We, as artists, can only do the best that we can do. We don't have control over everything.

  6. Thanks you K. I appreciate the nice comment.

  7. Thanks for the information. My question is what about glass on watercolored paintings? I feel i should not ship the painting with glass, what is your take on this??

  8. I used to create pastel paintings that needed to be covered with glass. When I shipped them, I used plexiglass instead. I have a friend that does watercolors and he has worked out a deal with his gallery. He ships without the glass and the gallery puts the glass on when it arrives.
    Quite frankly, that's one of the reasons I switched to oil paintings! No more matts,or glass. And most of my paintings are on Gallery Wrapped canvas or boards, so no more frames either.

  9. I use Plexi glass on my framed pictures. If I'm shipping to a gallery for a show, I use a reusable strong box. Expensive but I've had the first one I ever used for over 10 years now. I always cover the plexi with a piece of cardboard and use the stretch wrap to keep it on. ( ) Then I wrap the small bubble bubble wrap around the art and put in the strongbox.
    If I'm shipping to a customer, I do the same as above, but build a box using two layers of cardboard.