How to Pack Valuables the Right Way
Whether you decide to hire movers or do the job yourself you should have a solid understanding of how to pack valuables the right way. There's nothing worse than opening that box of your grandmother’s china to find it broken, or discover your favorite (or valuable) painting has been punctured.
Forgo the stress and learn how to pack valuables by following these expert packing tips. Protect your art and antiques!
Inventory, then Prepare
Assess meaningful and expensive possessions, making an inventory of your valuables with notes about the condition of each item. Take pictures and note where these items are packed. Documenting these important possessions is key for claims if something should go wrong. Plus this will help you organize your unpacking.
- Boxes – dish packs and mirror packs
- Tape – packing and painter’s
- Blank Newsprint
- Tissue Paper
- Bubble Wrap
- Silver Cloth or other soft fabric
- Movering Blankets
- Stretch Wrap
Packing Valuable Furniture
Furniture is most likely to get broken during the actual handling of it rather than in transport, so make sure you have competent strong movers. Make a plan for how to take something downstairs or through thresholds. Be sure you measure doors and ceilings to ensure the piece will fit. Make use of dollies and moving straps.
Remove or secure any moveable parts, such as doors, drawers, or component parts. Door or drawer pulls which stick out are particularly vulnerable. Soft string or furniture bands can be used to secure doors closed. To pack for transport, wrap furniture in padded moving blankets and secure with stretch wrap.
How to Pack Ceramics & Glass
Valuables made out of ceramic or glass are probably the most fragile items you possess. Take extra care when packing these for transport to avoid cracks, breaks, and scratches. The key is to assess the weak spots of each of these items and give those areas extra support or padding. Weak points include protrusions like handles; rims and bases that are easily chipped; joints; and decorations that are easily tangled or pulled off.
Don’t skimp on the packing materials and buy enough to wrap in layers. To safely wrap ceramics and glass:
- Pad out weak areas with soft tissue paper. Make a long roll of tissue paper by curling a corner into itself. Then wrap this around the weak point. Tape the wrapping in place with painter’s tape if need be.
- Next wrap the entire object in tissue paper or a thicker grade blank newsprint paper if the object’s surface is not easily scratched.
- Finally, wrap the object with bubble wrap. Always turn bubble wrap with the bubbles out and make sure the object is evenly covered, paying attention to the top and bottom of the object as well as the sides.
When filling boxes with these fragile valuables be sure to use dish packs or double walled cardboard boxes, and don’t leave any voids in the box. Fill holes with extra newsprint paper or bubble. Avoid using packing peanuts as they have a tendency to shift and settle during transport.
How to Pack Silver and Other Metals
Metal serving wares and sterling silver antiques are a much more sturdy material, but these possessions are prone to scratching, tarnish, and dents during the moving process. Protect silver by first cleaning and polishing it. Then wrap it in silver cloth, which is a soft flannel like fabric that prevents tarnishing and scratching. Many sterling silver items come with their own cloths or covers be sure to use these.
If you don’t have or cannot buy silver cloth, try wrapping the piece in soft cotton muslin and then enclosing it in a plastic bag. After wrapping the item in cloth, further protect it with bubble wrap. Take extra care with hollow handles to avoid denting.
Packing Valuable Art
2-D framed art works should be packed following very specific guidelines. It is important to protect these works from damage caused by excessive vibration, temperature fluctuations, fluids, and impacts. You will need special boxes called mirror packs and blank newsprint paper. To pack the work of art:
- Fold the mirror pack together and tape the end. If this is not big enough to house the painting, put together another box and turn it so the open ends slide together.
- Place several rolled sheets of blank newsprint at the bottom of the box then insert the art work. Fold several more pieces of newsprint along the top of the frame.
- Slide another mirror pack down over top to enclose the art work. You want a snug fit around the painting to minimize movement of the frame within the box.
- If the move involves overseas transport or prolonged storage, first wrap the art work in plastic sheeting made from polyethylene or other pH neutral, inert plastic before placing work in box. If the work is behind glass or plexi, it is a good idea to first wrap the work in bubble.
- Tape the top and bottom boxes together. Mark the top of the box with an arrow pointing up and by writing the word “top” on at least 2 sides of the box. Mirror packs are usually already marked “Do Not Lay Flat.”
- When moving and transporting the packed work of art keep it upright and oriented the right way.
NOTE: Very valuable art should be packed and moved by professional art handlers and packers who can build custom wooden crates and ensure climate controlled transport.
Moving and packing is always stressful, but knowing the right way to pack valuables will greatly reduce that stress. With these expert packing tips to protect your art and antiques you can feel confident that your valuable possessions will arrive safe and sound. Happy moving!