Framed pictures require tender, loving care to ship, as they have sentimental and financial value—sometimes a great deal of both. Because of their fragile components and sometimes unusual dimensions, it can be difficult to figure out the best way to ship picture frames and keep them safe during transit. Let’s start with the packaging:
How to Package Fragile Picture Frames
The techniques for packaging a picture frame differ somewhat, depending on whether the frame has glass or some other material protecting the picture surface, or whether, as with an oil painting, the surface of the painting is exposed. In either case, make sure you are working on a table where the surface is protected with a non-abrasive material such as a blanket.
- Measure the length, width and thickness of the picture frame. Add 6 inches to each dimension; this will be the size of the corrugated box you will need later.
- For oil paintings where the painting is exposed, start wrapping the picture frame by placing it between two corrugated sheets about 3 inches wider and longer than the frame. Secure the corrugated sheets with 4-inch-wide stretch banding film or 2-inch-wide box sealing tape.
For paintings where the painting surface is covered, wrap the frame in glassine paper, like you were gift-wrapping it, securing the paper with box sealing tape. Before doing this, put Artist’s Tape in an “X” pattern across the glass side of the picture frame. Artist’s Tape is non-acidic and will not leave a stain.
- Wrap the picture frame in two or three layers of packaging foam or packaging bubble material, gift-wrap style, to protect against any impact the frame may experience in transit. For this step, we recommend one-eighth-inch thick polypropylene film, as it has superior cushioning characteristics spread evenly across the entire surface of the foam. Small bubble (3/16 inches) packaging is another option, although it has two possible disadvantages:
(1) The bubbles could leave indentations on the surface of the painting, and (2) if bubbles pop during impact, there is no longer any protection in that area of the packaging.
- Wrap the frame again, this time with big bubble (half inch) or one-quarter-inch thick polypropylene foam, so that the end result adds 6 inches of thickness all the way around the frame.
- Secure the bubble or foam with box sealing tape.
- Place the picture frame in the box. The corrugated box, the size of which was determined by the measurements you took earlier, should be a double-wall container. The double layers of corrugated provide extra rigidity and protection against impact.
- After placing the picture frame in the box, fill any remaining void with bubble material or polypropylene foam.
- Seal the box and you are ready to go.
Packaging materials can be purchased online or at many hardware and office supply stores. If you cannot find a standard-size picture frame box, it’s better to go a little bigger than a little smaller — the small savings in box size isn’t worth the cost of a damaged item.
Shipping Method: Parcel or LTL Carrier
Parcel shipping is one option for shipping picture frames. If your item is very large, valuable or heavy, parcel shipping may not be the best option, as it will incur upcharges and the possibility of damage could be greater. Transit Systems, a specialist in shipping fragile picture frames, is an LTL (less-than-truckload) carrier with drivers and crews accustomed to handling and stowing valuable items like these. An LTL carrier adept at furniture shipping will take all the necessary steps to keep your item in the condition it was in when it was loaded. In addition, if you are shipping multiple picture frames, LTL will probably be less expensive than shipping individual units via a parcel shipper.
Additional Considerations for Fragile Picture Frames
Make sure your picture frame is properly insured! All LTL carriers have insurance, but the terms and limits are not always the same. If you require additional coverage, you can acquire it through a third party, or the carrier may be able to obtain additional coverage for your item(s). The point is, check! To handle the insurance issue, you obviously need to know the value of your picture. If you have a painting you think may be valuable, or have not had it appraised for insurance purposes in a few years, have it appraised now, so you and the carrier have an accurate estimate of value. Another key consideration is the environments your picture will be exposed to in transit. For instance:
- Will your LTL carrier deliver your frame directly to its destination, or will it be sitting in a transit warehouse for a day or a week or longer?
- If so, is this warehouse temperature controlled, or might it be exceedingly hot, humid or cold? Extreme weather conditions could cause damage to your picture frame, depending on the materials.
If the picture is valuable, you won’t want to leave anything to chance in the shipping process.
Have questions about the best way to ship your picture frames? Please contact us at 877-677-1571 or using our form for more information, advice, and a free quote.