How to Ship a Painting on Canvas Safely and Effectively

Sending out your first work of art can be both an exhilarating and daunting experience.

It’s exciting that you’re going to send your piece to a new owner who’s possibly living across the world, while it’s daunting at the same time because you don’t know how to ship a painting on canvas yet.

Don’t worry, though, because today, we will provide the information that you need!

The Different Art Packaging Materials You Need to Get

Let’s start with the different materials that you need to prepare to begin packaging. Here they are:

1. Glassine Paper

Glassline is the paper you will use to wrap your works, so make sure you have enough for the painting that you want to send out.

It is a type of wax paper that is resistant to elements like water, grease, and air that could damage your painting during shipping.

You can buy it from stationery and art supplies stores or you can order online.

If you can’t find one or just in case you need an alternative, you can opt for acid-free tissue paper.

It’s not as reliable as glassine, though, but it can protect your artwork to some extent.

2. Cotton Gloves

You will handle your painting a lot, so naturally, you want to protect it from your own hands’ natural oils.

You can do so by wearing cotton gloves before you start your packing process.

3. A Mailing Tube

This is great for mailing rolled works. Don’t worry; we will talk more about this later.

4. Cardboard and Corner Protectors

On the other hand, those who are sending out framed pieces will greatly benefit from cardboard sheets and corner protectors for added support.

You will also need a cardboard box to put your painting in.

5. Plastic Sheet

You will store your wrapped painting in this, and it will serve as a second layer of protection.

6. Styrofoam Sheets

Speaking of support, make sure that your frame’s glass or the painting surface itself won’t get damaged by rough handling.

You can do this by sandwiching it in between styrofoam sheets.

7. Packing Peanuts and Bubble Wrap

Speaking of rough handling, you will need packing nuts and sufficient rolls of bubble wrap to protect your work from any form of impact.

8. Tape and Scissors

Finally, you’ll need rolls of reliable packing tape and a trusty pair of scissors to cut it.

With your materials ready, we can now start packaging!

How to Package Framed Paintings

Before shipping your precious artwork, you need to pack it correctly. To do so, just follow the simple steps below:

1. Put Your Gloves on First

As mentioned, our hands contain natural oils that can potentially damage the painted surface of your painting.

Having a pair of gloves on is a huge help to prevent this from happening.

2. Wrap Your Painting

Lay your glassine paper on a flat surface. Place your painting face down on it.

Fold the excess corners over as if you were wrapping a book, and secure them with tape.

Don’t tape directly on the painting. Put your tape on the glassine paper.

3. Secure Your Painting

Tape the cardboard sheet onto the glassine paper.

4. Place Your Painting in a Plastic Bag

Some artists use paper bags as an eco-friendly alternative.

However, these paper bags won’t protect your work from water.

5. Wrap Again

Wrap everything in bubble wrap and secure it with tape.

6. Protect the Corners

Now that your painting is secure with bubble wrap, it’s time to protect the corners from potential bumps.

Insert your cardboard corner protectors now.

7. Reinforce the Protection Further

Do this by placing your painting in between two styrofoam sheets.

Sandwich them together, and again, secure with tape.

8. Box It Up

It’s now time to start boxing. Put your first layer of packing peanuts.

Then, place your painting inside the box and add more packing peanuts and close the box.

Shake it a bit to make sure that nothing is moving inside.

If you can still sense movement, then you’d want to stuff even more packing peanuts in to make everything stable.

9. Seal the Box

Be generous with your tape. Reinforce the corners of your box, as well.

10. Place in Another Box (Optional)

Place it inside another box. Some artists use two boxes for added protection.

11. Label Your Box

Finally, don’t forget to put a big “Fragile” label on all sides of your box.

If possible, put it in bold red letters to make it hard to miss.

Congratulations! Your painting is ready for shipping.

How to Ship a Painting on Canvas

Thanks to modern shipping technology, it is now easy and more affordable to ship anything across the seas.

When it comes to sending out artworks, there are two ways on how to ship a painting on canvas.

You can either send them flat and framed or skip the frame and ship them rolled.

When It’s Framed

Since most artists send out framed works, we have taken the liberty of choosing this method as the format to use in our packaging guide above.

However, there are still some steps left for you to do:

1. Measure

Measure and write down the dimensions of your package.

Don’t forget to weigh your item and take note of it as well.

We will need those numbers to determine your item’s dimensional weight.

2. Choose Your Courier Service

You can either choose a shipping company or send it via post.

We prefer shipping companies since they have a detailed tracking system.

You can also choose to send your item by air or by sea.

Sending a heavy piece by air can be quite expensive, but it will reach your recipient faster.

Meanwhile, opting to send it via ship will help you save on weight and size costs, but it will take a significantly longer time for your item to reach its destination.

3. Use Your Courier’s Dimensional Weight Calculator

Most courier websites have a calculator to help you estimate your total shipping costs.

All you need to do is to enter the measurements that we asked you to take note of earlier.

Sending it via regular post, though, will require you to bring your item there personally to have it weighed.

4. Send It!

The only thing that’s left for you to do is to send the item. You can either get it picked up from your home or drop it in the post or courier office by yourself.

When It’s Rolled

We have practically covered almost everything about how to get a framed canvas painting shipped, but what about unframed ones?

Here’s a quick guide on how to do that:

1. Get Two Pieces of Mailing Tubes

You need a smaller cardboard tube to roll your artwork with and a bigger one to fit it snuggly after rolling. 

You need to consider how thick your work will be, as well as the width of your piece.

2. Don’t Forget to Put Your Cotton Gloves On

You would still handle your painting by hand, so gloves are necessary.

3. Roll Your Painting

Put a layer of glassine paper on top of a flat, clean surface. Then place your painting on top of it.

It doesn’t really matter which side is up at this point.

Then, put another layer of glassine paper on top.

If you’re rolling a drawing or a print, then you can roll it with its face inside.

On the other hand, if you’re dealing with paintings, then roll it with the painted side out so its rolls are wider and it won’t crack.

Secure your rolls with a small piece of adhesive tape. Again, don’t put your adhesive tape on top of your painting. Place it on the glassine layers.

4. Secure Everything in Bubble Wrap

Next, you’d want to roll your layers to add some bubble wrap to it.

Seal the ends carefully with more bubble wrap if needed and secure with tape to keep water and other elements out.

5. Put It Inside the Bigger Mailing Tube

Secure its lid on top carefully that it won’t damage the edges of your painting.

Seal this lid with tape.

That’s it! You can now proceed to ship your item by using the same method we discussed with you above when mailing out framed works.

You will notice, though, that the price will be more affordable since it will weigh less and consume less space.

how to ship a painting on canvas

More Tips on Art Shipment

We’re almost done. For our last topic, we’d like to share with you some more tips that you can keep in mind when shipping your artworks:

1. Shipping Partially Dry Artworks

You don’t need to wait for your artworks to dry completely before you send them out.

There’s a way to send out wet paintings. This can be pretty helpful with oil paintings that usually takes a full year to dry thoroughly.

You can do this with a custom-built wooden frame. Have one made that’s 15mm thin.

Secure your painting inside with screws.

Then secure that cover of your wooden frame on top.

We suggest having a completely enclosed cover. In this way, there’ll be no chance for smaller particles (like pieces of packing peanuts) to fall inside and stick to your sticky painted surface.

You can then put the entire frame or holder inside a plastic wrapper and wrap everything with a layer of bubble wrap.

You can also sandwich this in between styrofoam sheets and secure the corners with cardboard protectors.

Put it inside a box, and it’s ready to ship.

We don’t recommend rolling your painting, though, since it might get damaged.

2. Shipping Charcoal and Pastel Artworks

You can also send out charcoal and pastel works. You simply need to spray the surface with fixative to hold all its particles in place.

Be sure to spray your work in a well-ventilated area and away from pets and children.

You can then add layers of glassine paper below and on top of it.

Sandwich it in between cardboard sheets, as well. Matting board is also an excellent option.

Then, secure all your layers with tape.

Wrap it with bubble wrap and place it inside a flat box or a thick and rigid envelope.

Write a “Don’t fold!” label on it.

Again, we don’t recommend rolling these types of works since it might disrupt your artwork.

3. Choosing the Box and Packaging Material

The right size of box and packaging materials can be tough to come by, especially for big or irregularly-sized pieces.

If this is the case, we suggest getting large cardboard box sheets instead and building your own box from scratch.

Here’s a pro tip: align your folds with the creases of your corrugated cardboard sheet to make them smooth and straight.

4. Packing Large Pieces

Packaging bigger pieces is a two-person operation. Taping the layers down can already be a challenge with just a pair of hands.

Just make sure that your packaging partner is also wearing a pair of gloves.

5. Get Your Work Insured

Sometimes, even with our best efforts, our work can still get damaged along the way.

Hence, don’t forget to get all your works insured before sending them out.

6. Have a Plan B

Have a game plan on what you will do if your work gets damaged, and inform your recipient of your plans beforehand.

If something bad does happen, don’t forget to take lots of pictures for proper documentation.

Remember, you cannot have too many pictures when you’re dealing with insurance agents and priceless artworks.

To Sum Up

Sending out an artwork shouldn’t be too hard.

After all, all the packing materials that you’ll ever need are available in bookstores, stationery shops, and art shops.

If there’s one thing we’d like you to keep in mind when it comes to packing materials, it’s this: you can never have enough rolls of bubble wrap.

We know that materials are not cheap, but your artwork is definitely worth the extra bubble wrap budget.

Anyway, by following the guides we shared with you above, you are not only keeping your work safe, but you’re also giving yourself some peace of mind.

Stay artsy!


5 thoughts on “How to Ship a Painting on Canvas Safely and Effectively”

    1. I received a watercolor framed canvas that had been wrapped in bubble wrap and I can see the bubble marks all over the painting, is there a way to safely remove them from the artwork or no?

  1. The Canadian post office does not like tubes. The last time I tried to send something in a tube I got a long and detailed explanation about how hard they were to put through the mail.

  2. Peanuts are not accepted in competitive art shows. Please read the prospectus clearly regarding shipping.if in doubt about shipping issues always call the contact number provided on the prospectus.

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