How to Pack Pictures, Art, and Mirrors So You Can Move Like a Pro

Take extra care for these extra-fragile items

Claudia Guthrie
Written by Claudia Guthrie
Updated July 1, 2022
Man packing boxes in living room
Photo: Morsa Images / Getty Images


No experience? No problem.

Time to complete

1 hour



You might need a few supplies.

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What you'll need:


  • Packing tape
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Measuring tape


  • Heavy-duty moving boxes
  • Packing paper
  • Bubble wrap
  • Flat foam or cardboard sheets
  • Cardboard corner protectors

Packing up your house is nobody’s favorite activity, especially when you add the stress of making sure all your things make it to your new home in one piece. But with the right techniques, you can make sure your family pictures, framed art pieces, and mirrors make it safely. 

No matter if you’re moving across the country or just across town, here’s how to pack your frames (and keep them from shattering).

  1. Measure Your Frames

    Before taking a trip to the store, measure all the frames you’re planning to pack. Once everything is measured, buy your boxes.

  2. Get the Right Gear

    Woman with boxes and artwork
    Photo: Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

    Large frames, like the big piece of art hanging over your mantel, should get their own box. Each box should be slightly larger than the frame, leaving enough space for a little cushion, but not enough for the picture to slide around. Smaller frames, like a gallery wall of family photos, can be packaged and moved together. 

    You can typically find boxes at a moving supply store or even a local hardware store. While you’re there, you should also pick up everything else you’ll need, including packing paper, bubble wrap, extra cushioning like foam sheets, and tape.

  3. X Marks the Spot

    For any large pictures framed in glass, use masking tape to mark a big X across the front. This way, if the worst happens and the glass breaks, it won’t shatter everywhere. And don’t worry; the tape will peel right off when you unpack.

  4. Wrap It Up

    Wrap art in tissue paper
    Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

    For extra reinforcement, cover the glass with a thin piece of cardboard or flat foam a tape it in place. 

    Working on a flat surface, wrap up the frame completely in packing paper. Cover it on all sides, then securely tape it in place. Place corner protectors over the corners, then wrap bubble wrap over the packing paper. 

    Pro tip: Make sure you’re using brown packaging paper and never use newspaper. Newsprint ink can rub off the paper and onto your frame! If you have newspapers lying around, you can put them to use in the next step.

  5. Keep It Snug

    Now place your frame (or frames) into the appropriate box. You can add some extra cushion on the bottom and sides of the box with flat foam pieces or extra cardboard. 

    After placing the frame, add extra packaging paper to fill in any gabs between the picture and the box. You want to pack it so the frame is snug and doesn’t move or slide around. Close the box and shake it slightly—if you can feel the contents moving around, add more packing paper.

  6. Label Accordingly

    Family packing and labeling boxes
    Photo: Marko Geber / Getty Images

    Tape up the box and write “fragile” in large letters using a sharpie or thick marker. If you’re hiring a local moving company, you want to make it 100 percent clear that the box should be handled with care. Even if you’re moving on your own, it helps to label each box clearly so you know exactly what’s inside, and which packages you need to handle with more care.

DIY Packing Pictures Vs. Hiring a Pro

It’s not difficult to wrap pictures, art, or mirrors for moving, but it’s delicate work. You have to ensure your items are packed correctly so they aren’t damaged during the move. 

If you’d rather leave the packing to the pros, you can hire a local moving company to tackle this task for you. Packing and unpacking your belongings is likely a service you didn’t know that movers offer, but they are happy to help with this part of the process. Keep in mind that adding a packing service to your move will cost about $1,000.

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Get quotes from top-rated pros.