Shipping Art, Antiques and Other Valuables Across Canada (A Fool-Proof Packing Plan)

Are you an art collector? Then you’ve probably invested in at least a few paintings, antiques or other valuables you care for more than yourself. That care should extend to moving day.

Packing and transporting your cherished collection is a serious undertaking. It needs to be done precisely or years of hard work can be damaged in a few seconds. So, when you decide to move across Canada and hand over your belongings to a personal effects shipping company, make sure you give your valuables some TLC. Follow the instructions outlined in this post to make sure moving your art, antiques and other valuables goes off without a hitch.

How to Move Your Art, Antiques and Other Valuables Without Ruining Them

From framed paintings to antique sculptures, moving valuable objects is a costly and time-consuming process that should be done with care. If you’re relocating and want to take your art with you intact, here’s a guide to help you with packing.

What Do You Need?

A successful project requires the right tools. Get hold of these necessary supplies before you start packing:

  • Box cutter
  • Bubble wrap, foam peanuts and shredded paper
  • Scissors
  • Palette wrap
  • Packing tape
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Labels, stickers and markers

packing supplies

How to Pack?

1) Artwork or Framed Paintings

Framed paintings and photographs are vulnerable to scratches or breakage when loading, in transit or unloading. You need to take care of three things when shipping framed pieces: the frame, the glass and, obviously, the art. Here’s what to do.

  • Tape the outer corners and interiors of the glass while being careful to avoid the frame itself. This will help prevent glass shards from damaging the art if breakage occurs in transit.
  • If the photograph isn’t covered in glass, wrap it in several layers of palette wrap to prevent friction damage.
  • Wrap the pieces in bubble wrap and secure them with packing tape to work as protecting cushioning.
  • If you’ve saved the original boxes of the framed pieces, use them. If not, find boxes or crates of appropriate size.
  • If you have a large box that can accommodate two pieces, put them face to face or back to back. This will ensure that the hanging hardware on the backs of the artwork won’t damage the front of another piece.
  • Seal boxes with packing tape and mark ‘fragile’.
  • When loading framed items, make sure they’re strategically placed inside the container in a spot where they won’t get damaged or squashed by large boxes or heavy furniture.

2) Stretched Canvas

Unframed stretched canvases need more attention when it comes to packing. Since they’re fully exposed to moisture and dirt, they should be packed separately to avoid getting overstretched and pressed against something else. Follow these steps:

  • Securely wrap the canvas with acid-free packing paper and tape. Be careful not to tape the canvas directly.
  • Pack the canvas between thick cardboard or foam board like a sandwich.
  • Tape from all sides and wrap in a layer of bubble wrap.
  • Put shredded paper in the box to act as a shock absorber, then put the pieces in the box.

3) Unframed Items

Photographs or paintings that are neither framed not mounted can be easily shipped if you roll them up. To protect your unframed valuables from damage during transit, follow this packing method.

  • Place layers of acid-free paper on a clean surface and make sure the layers are larger than the unframed piece you’re packing.
  • Put the canvas face down and photograph or painting face up on layers of acid-free paper. Top with another layer of acid-free paper.
  • Roll from the bottom while ensuring the art isn’t folded. Secure with tape once you’re finished rolling.
  • Roll the piece in bubble wrap with the bubble side down. Tape securely.
  • Put the roll in PVC protective storage tubes.

4) Sculptures

Packing sculptures both large or small for shipping long distances is tricky. The challenge is that any extended parts or holes are vulnerable to damage. For example, if you have a sculpture of a swan, the head and neck are in danger of snapping off. To prevent this, pack sculptures as follows.

  • Cover it in palette wrap to protect the finish. Get in and around all the nooks and crannies.
  • Roll up strips of bubble wrap to cover fragile parts.
  • Once all vulnerable spots are covered, wrap the entire sculpture in another layer of bubble wrap. Cover in such a way that a sphere or egg shape is formed that can be placed inside a box with foam peanuts.

These steps are applicable to small sculptures. If you want to pack larger ones, the safest and sturdiest (if most expensive) solution is to use wooden crates. Consult your shipping company to learn about cargo insurance options.

Cargo Shipping

5) Antiques

Whether it’s your father’s set of hand-carved pipes or porcelain plates you bought at auction, antiques are valuable to their owners, not only in terms of money but sentiment. That’s why packing them needs to be undertaken with the utmost care. Here are some tips.

  • Document your inventory by taking photographs and making notes.
  • If you’re shipping an antique piece of furniture, safely disassemble it before packing.
  • Wrap pieces in several layers of bubble wrap and secure with tape.
  • If you want to give your collection extra protection, securely apply another layer of moving blankets and tape.
  • Place the valuables in wooden crates. If you don’t have any, place them in large cardboard boxes and fill with foam peanuts.

Moving art, antiques, sculptures and other valuables isn’t convenient, but knowing the right packing techniques and hiring a reliable shipping company can make the process easier. Despite your best efforts, art can get damaged in transit, so better your odds by purchasing antique and collectibles insurance.