When you’re moving, it’s easy to leave something behind. Once, I walked right out of an apartment with my favorite painting still on the wall! It fit so perfectly that it had become one with the living room. But I love that painting so when my sister asked, “Are you forgetting something?” I felt very thankful. The thing is, I was already completely packed and I realized that packing a painting takes some skill—and supplies—that I just didn’t have.
The good news is, that picture is happily hanging in my sister’s NYC apartment. The great news is, I’ve since learned that packing a picture isn’t difficult. All you need is a little time, a lot of packing paper, and something I only recently learned exists: picture moving boxes.
Picture moving boxes work well for packing large framed items—including paintings, mirrors, and samurai sword collections. These items tend to be big and heavy as well as expensive and fragile. That’s quite a combination in the world of moving and shipping. So, before we even get to the large items, let’s start with small, framed pictures, like the ones on your bookshelf. These don’t require a special box, but they do require lots of packing paper. You can use blank newsprint, layered packing paper (also called “furniture packing paper”), or bubble wrap. Before you run out and buy any of these, check with local retailers (gift shops are a great resource) to find out if they would like you to take some of the packing materials from their latest delivery off their hands.
Back to wrapping small, framed items: cover them with several layers of packing paper or bubble wrap. There’s no need to tape it down for small items. Use a small, sturdy box (I like the inexpensive boxes from Home Depot). In the bottom, put a few layers of newspaper or packing material as a cushion. Add the items, top with more packing material, and tape up the box. Mark it “FRAGILE” on all sides and pack it last.
Now, for the larger items. Let’s take them by type:
- Full-length mirror: cheap version. OK, you absolutely need a full-length mirror. But you don’t necessarily need to take the one you have on a long trip. If the mirror is a standard-issue, back-of-door mirror, you probably paid less than $20 for it. Leave it where it is, give it to a friend who’s helping you move (this does not excuse you from buying pizza and beer!), put a “FREE” sign on it and set it by the curb. Some things are better left behind. Inexpensive mirrors that could cause you seven years of bad luck fall into that category.
- Full-length mirror: expensive version. Love these! I’ve never actually owned one but I love the concept: a heavy, wood- or metal-framed mirror on a stand. It’s elegant and worth moving. This will require multiple layers of padding, and you can move beyond bubble wrap to moving pads (like this) for one or more layers. Tape each layer of wrapping in place with a heavy strapping tape. Then, use what’s called a “four-way” picture moving box. It’s got four pieces, and each covers one corner plus about one-third of the mirror. With four pieces, you’ve got plenty of flexibility in terms of size; if the pieces overlap, that’s even more protection for what you’re wrapping.
- Large, framed pictures. After wrapping a heavy mirror, large framed pictures will seem like a breeze. Start with bubble wrap (for the first layer of wrapping), then use padded paper. Tape it up, then fit a four-way around it and tape it again.
- Large canvas prints. Canvas requires an extra layer of protection, as bubble wrap can damage it. The first layer should be paper, not plastic or foam. Use blank newsprint or kraft paper for this layer. Then, simply follow the instructions in #3, above.
Wrapped carefully, your framed items will arrive at your new home safe and sound.
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