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Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page

packing photo frames

There’s more to home than the people that live in it. Every little detail, accessory and furnishing is a part of it. The way we personalize the decor is what transforms it from an apartment to a home. They hold a lot of personal and sentimental value. So when the time comes to move, it’s important to make sure they are moved safely. Although, this can get complicated when moving fragile and delicate objects like framed pictures and mirrors.

The nature of these things mean a lot can go wrong while relocating these items. Be it the delicate paper getting torn, the frame of the artwork getting chipped or the mirror getting cracked, nobody likes their valuable belongings to get damaged. Which is why you have to take a lot of measures to ensure they are relocated safely. Knowing how to pack pictures and mirrors for moving involves getting a lot of protective materials to avoid any mishaps.

Sure, it’s always better to have experts help you with such complex tasks. There’s no doubt that using the services of packers and movers is a better alternative. But you know, we can’t always have that option. Honestly though, it’s not rocket science. If you do the right things and take all the precautionary measures, you could do just as good a job as any expert. It may seem daunting if you’ve not done something like this before, but trust us, you got this!

We will help you figure out how to pack pictures and mirrors for moving. Before we tell you how, you have to know about the ‘what’ and ‘why’.


So here’s a list of materials you need for packing pictures and mirrors for moving:

1. Bubblewrap

These will be used as a protective layer for mirrors, framed pictures and artwork, before they are packed. Get as much as bubble wrap as you can. More is less. We know bubblewrap is a universal weakness of mankind. But please don’t pop them. If you do so, you’re defeating the purpose of using it. The air bubbles are specifically created to protect fragile objects.

2. Cardboard Boxes

You will need a lot of these in different sizes. You need to consider the smaller frames and pictures too. An important thing to remember is that you should only get cardboard boxes which are strong and in good condition. Avoid using recycled boxes. At least in this case. We would recommend buying a new cardboard box and not trying to tape or create a makeshift box yourself. That’s not going to be strong enough material for the delicate nature of the framed paintings and mirrors you possess.

You should also get your hands on some specialized Picture Boxes. They’re usually a lot more sturdier. And unlike the usual moving boxes, it’s easier to get picture boxes in larger sizes. Which is great because you should always pack your paintings and mirrors in a box that’s fairly bigger. Reason for that is, your box needs to have enough space for the other materials you are going to use as protective layers.

Places like home improvement stores and moving supply stores are often reliable when it comes to finding picture boxes. You could also check with your local grocery stores for cardboard boxes in general. Then there are always options like Walmart, Home Depot and Amazon that you could choose for packing boxes. There’s a chance you might not get a box of the size you desire. In that case, you can always scoop in another box from the other side or get telescopic boxes. They are specially designed for artworks that are huge in size.

3. Cardboard Corners or Styrofoam Corners

These are specially designed for the edges and corners of your mirrors and paintings. The ones made of foam can often give better protection but the cardboard ones are good too.

Cardboard corners help the sides of your mirror or your artworks with support, in a situation where they are vertically placed. It really kind of serves as an additional layer that fits in. If you don’t get these, you can also use peanuts (packing peanuts) or stuff crumpled papers.

4. Cylindrical Cardboard Boxes

These especially come in handy if you don’t have a frame for your pictures or if they’re damaged and you don’t want to use them anymore. Cylindrical Cardboard Boxes also come in handy to roll up the canvas of your valuable paintings. You get these boxes in different shapes and sizes so purchase them accordingly. You can also use a cylindrical box to store some of your stationery items and things you use to create your artworks.

5. Glassine Paper

The importance of glassine just can’t be understated. This is one thing which you shouldn’t compromise on. Try your best to get your hands on glassine paper. It will help preserve your painting and its life in general. Especially while moving. One of the coolest things about glassine is that it’s not sticky, it’s waterproof, grease resistant and also air resistant. It’s a translucent paper that is used to cover your paintings to avoid smudges or marks.

6. Brown Packing Paper

Don’t confuse this with glassine. Packing paper is that common brown paper which is used as a wrapper when relocating things. Be sure to get a thicker one as it will be able to provide additional protection. Ideally, glassine is supposed to be used for your artworks and packing paper for mirrors. However, you can also use this for any framed picture which comes with a glass cover of its own, in the front. And buy enough of these because it takes a lot for a single piece of artwork or a mirror.

7. Painter’s Tape & Packing Tape

The painter’s tape is very useful for packing artworks. What makes it special is that it’s easy to remove and acid free, so it doesn’t damage the painting, in case you accidentally put some on the painting. Also, it doesn’t leave the marks of the adhesive on the surface, so that’s a bonus. It’s not too different from your scotch tape, but this one does specialize in artworks. For your mirrors, you can use the general packing tape itself.

8. Foam Sheet or Blankets

If you can get your hands on some foam sheet, perfect. But even if you don’t, Moving Blankets work just as well. The third effective alternative would be good soft blankets. The whole purpose of this is to create a soft layer for your delicate possessions to be placed on top of, when initiating the entire process of packing.

9. Packing Peanuts/Foam Popcorn

This is like a staple product of packing. These days, they come in different types. For example, if you wish, you could buy a biodegradable version also. These are the ones that are usually made of cornstarch or some other organic material. Or you could simply buy the regular ones made of foam. You’ll need these to create padding for your mirrors and paintings. An alternative would be stuffing scrunched up papers, in case you can’t get these.

10. Permanent Markers, Fragile Stickers, Fragile Tape

Once you’re done packing, you want the boxes to reflect that they carry fragile and delicate items. This could be for anyone helping you move or simply anyone who helps you unpack. The markers can also come in handy to mark the measurements for the boxes while packing. It’s just good to cover all your bases and these finer details help a lot. You could also use Fragile Stickers or Fragile Tape to mark your boxes instead of writing with a marker.

11. Miscellaneous Items

Well, it goes without saying that you’ll need scissors or an army knife to do all the cutting, which you’ll definitely have at home. Then there’s also a measuring tape which you can use to figure out the size of your prized possessions. Apart from these, you could have a tape gun. You don’t necessarily need it when you have scissors, but they can sometimes just make life easier. But again, it’s not an absolute essential.


Tips to plan how you start the process of packing

If you have time on your hands and a safe space in your house, pack all of these in advance and keep it aside in that safe space. Unless of course, you might need any of it. The mirror would surely be of use, but the artworks can still be packed in advance. Also, it’s always preferable to keep this task for a day you have an off or no other things to distract or bother you. Don’t rush the packing. Take it slow, be patient and be careful.

It always helps to be in the right frame of mind when doing tasks like these. Stress can at times affect our efficiency and effectiveness to do such tasks. So before you start unmounting your paintings or mirrors, keep every other material ready and in place. Don’t just spread it out everywhere. But keep it all organized and handy, so that your life becomes easier when you start the packing process.

Packing Pictures & Mirrors

While there’s not a lot of difference between packing the two, we’ll cover both separately. The minute differences in the packing process are important, so it’s best to treat them differently.

Note: If your painting has a glass frame, you can follow these exact steps for the same. To avoid confusion, we will only mention a mirror. But once again, these same steps are applicable for glass-framed pictures. So here’s how to pack a mirror safely.

Steps to pack a Mirror

packing mirror

1. Setting up the space (Prep Work)

If you have a table that’s considerably bigger than your mirrors and your artworks, you place those items on that table. You could also use any other flat surface that can hold it all. If not, the floor will be your best friend. Once you find a suitable space to operate from, you should first place some packing paper on the table or the floor. Depends on your situation. Make sure the surface can easily fit the entire mirror and have a good amount of additional space.

You should also clean the surface once, before putting anything on it. Next step, you place the sheet of foam on the table/floor. A blanket can also work. For extra protection, you can always use a double layer up. This could be a combination of a blanket and a foam, packing paper and foam or even blanket and packing paper. Also, it’s important to make sure you keep all the other materials in one place. Preferably in a spot that your hand can reach.

Also, your layer of protection should cover more area than the actual mirror. It should ideally be 30% more than the size of your mirror. While you’re at it, you should also place the bubblewrap on top of that, followed by the glassine paper. If you have one of those jumbo rolls of bubble wrap, pull out enough to cover the surface of the mirror once. But do not cut the rest of it away. Let it be attached to the roll.

So the order would be, find a table/room to operate from, clean the surface, keep the other materials handy, place the foam sheet (your layers of protection), place the bubble wrap and finally, put the glassine paper. Don’t underestimate the power of good prep work. They can really make the entire process of packing really smooth. Once you’ve done this, you move on to the next step.

2. Unmounting & Cleaning the mirror

Before you unmount the mirror, you should create another soft surface. The perfect scenario would be where you can use your bed. Just put a layer of packing paper or something else to protect your bed sheet from dust. Then, you carefully take the mirror off the wall, place it on the bed vertically, and let the mirror lean on you. While you’re holding the mirror, use a dusting brush or any other suitable brush to dust the mirror off.

If there are any smudge marks, you might want to put the mirror down horizontally. You would definitely need more than just a dusting brush to clean those marks off. Ideally, you would want to place an extra layer of cloth below the mirror if you don’t want your bedsheet to fall victim to the cleaning process. For cleaning the mirror, use a microfiber cloth. You can dilute white vinegar with some warm water to create your own cleaning liquid.

3. Wrapping

Once the cleaning process is done, put a sheet of glassine on the soft surface where you set up shop, then gently place the mirror on it. You can place the mirror facedown too. The glassine paper is real smooth and won’t damage your mirror. You have to place the mirror in such a way that there is enough paper hanging out on all 4 sides. Then, you fold the extra paper and use that to wrap your mirror. Use the painter’s tape to stick the paper.

Once you’ve wrapped it with paper, you have to use the bubble wrap. Make sure that you wrap it around the mirror at least thrice. This way, you give your mirror 3 layers of protection. Which really helps. At the edges, it’s always good to fold over the excess bubble wrap. They end up creating a soft padding for the corners. Use packing tape this time to stick the edges of the bubble wrap. So basically, you’ll be wrapping it with first glassine, then bubble wrap.

You can always go the extra mile and wrap another layer. This time, with a bigger one. Basically, small bubbles for the inner wrapping and big bubbles for the outer wrapping. Another thing you can do is use the cardboard or styrofoam corners to secure the edges. This will act as an additional layer of safety. Please keep in mind that this part should be done before using the bubble wrap. As a precautionary step, put a label on top of the wrapping, which indicates the glass side. These finer details can be helpful while unpacking.

4. Packing

Now, it’s best to place the box vertically. Like we mentioned earlier, make sure the box is huge enough for it to fit easily. Do place some packing peanuts, crumpled bubble wrap or scrunched up paper on the bottom of the box as a layer of padding. Then, you lift your mirror and slowly and carefully place it inside the box. You will notice that there’s still some extra room in the box. Fill up this space with packing peanuts, bubble wrap or scrunched up paper.

Once you’ve put in layers of padding on all the three sides, tape up the box. What you have to make sure is that there is a protective layer created on all 4 or 5 sides, inside the box. Also, don’t leave a lot of empty space. Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to hear the object freely move inside the box. If that happens, stuff it up till it has been padded up completely. Ensure that you’ve taped up the box properly with masking or packing tape.

5. Labeling

This one is pretty straight forward. You need your box to indicate 2 things. Firstly, the box holds a fragile object. If your box doesn’t already mention that, you can use a sticker, a fragile tape, or simply write it on the box with a permanent marker. Secondly, use a sticker or the market to indicate which is the glass side. This is primarily for the unpacking process.

See also: How to Label Boxes for Moving


How to pack paintings for a move

pack paintings for a move

Things would be different here because your paintings are exposed and don’t have a frame. So the method of packing in this case would be different. Here are the steps to follow.

1. Prepping

Keep the cylindrical boxes, packing tape, glassine, and all other materials ready. Use a huge table to carry out the task. If your painting is bigger than your table, the floor would definitely be up to the task. In this case, the order would be blanket/foam sheet, bubble wrap, packing paper and then the glassine (blank canvas can be an alternative). Also, make sure you’ve thoroughly washed your hands and then dried it up before touching your painting.

2. Rolling

Place the painting on the glassine. Then you start rolling the glassine (or blank canvas paper) along with the painting. Then, you further roll it up onto the packing paper. And then finally, roll the bubble wrap on top of it. An important part to this is to make sure that there are 2 layers of packing papers beneath the glassine. The reason behind this is that bubble wrap can sometimes leave marks on the painting, which is why the additional layers in between the painting and the wrap helps.

3. Packing

Finally, you gently place the rolled up painting inside the cylindrical box. In case you’re using a regular packing box, make sure the size is suitable. Also, it’s important to ensure that you’re not putting anything else inside the box. And in this case, it’s best if the box is fairly fitting to the rolled up painting. As much as possible, use only a cylindrical box.

Additional tips for packing mirrors and pictures

1. In a situation where you have to use one box for 2 to 3 pictures or mirrors, make sure each item has enough protective layers individually.

2. One good rule to follow is that you should have about 2 inches of padding before you start boxing the object.

3. For smaller framed pictures, the same practice works, where you start with glassine or packing paper, and then top it off with bubble wrap. Then the boxing process also remains the same.

4. Keep in mind that if you’ve done the packing, the movers won’t be responsible for any damages. So be careful, be patient, be methodical and take as much precaution as possible. If you do it right, you'll have nothing to worry about.

At the end of the day, you always have the options of letting the experts take the reins. Fair play to you if you feel like it’s best to seek help from professional packers and movers. But if you’re confident you can do it on your own, then this guide should be enough.