Shipping valuable artwork to the UK

You finally found that perfect and unique piece of art for your home. It fits your space perfectly, but the question is: how do you get it home? You could rely on our professional help, especially if you are moving to UK from Hong Kong. Or, if you are a gallery owner, you’ve connected a buyer to an artist with that specific style and sold the piece. Well, your job is almost done. Now it’s up to you to send the artwork in a safe way so it arrives in perfect condition. We have experience in transporting art, which is why we know it requires a unique skill set. And with our packing and moving specialists, you know you’re in safe hands with this guide. Follow these 10 steps for safely shipping valuable artwork to the UK.

Rolls of paper of different colors
Shipping multiple pieces in a tube? Place a sheet of glassine paper between each work before rolling.

1. Measure your shipment

Measure the length, width, and height of your shipment in order to select a box of an adequate size or shipping tube. If you need to determine the costs of shipping valuable artwork to the UK costs prior to committing to it read on.

  • Weigh the artwork, then calculate its dimensional weight.
  • Compare this figure with the actual weight. Bottom line is, your billable weight is the greater of the two.
  • Our movers Hong Kong have a precise, premium shipping system that can determine the dimensional weight of your shipment. Simply provide us with all the information, and the rest is up to our experts.

2. Select an appropriate container for shipping valuable artwork to the UK

  • Shipping valuable artwork to the UK that that is also unframed, and larger than 48-by-48 inches, should travel in a wooden crate.
  • The same goes for framed pieces that are larger than 18-by-24 inches.
  • Ask your movers to build you a customized crate for packing art.
  • When shipping smaller works of art, go for a new, double-wall corrugated box that should minimize movement and offer adequate space for padding.
  • There are specialized mirror or picture boxes that are well suited for framed and mounted artwork. They are also available in a variety of sizes.
  • Whatever you do, never re-use a box with such a valuable package. Not only will a recycled box provide less protection, but it will look unprofessional as well.
  • With your unmounted artwork, you can roll it up without damage. Put in a sturdy shipping tube that’s at least 4 inches longer than the shortest side of your flat artwork. Allow for 4 to 5 inches of padding on each side of the package.

3. Cover artwork that doesn’t have a frame with glassine paper

Wrap canvases completely in acid-free, archival-quality glassine paper when shipping it to the UK. Glassine paper will help protect against dust and moisture. Ensure that you meticulously cover all sides and edges of the art. Finally, secure it with acid-free artist tape. If you’re going to roll your art, make sure you use a lot of glassine paper.

Photographs on the wall
The corners are especially susceptible to damage. Protect framed- and unframed mounted art with cardboard corner protectors.
  • First, place two sheets of glassine paper that are at least 2 inches larger than the artwork on all four sides of the painting.
  • Place art like drawings, photographs, prints, watercolors faces up on the glassine.
  • On the other hand, place works such as canvas and linen face down before rolling to prevent them from cracking or breaking.
  • Finally, you should layer the art from largest to smallest. Also, make sure every piece is facing the same direction. (face up or face down). Keep the roll secure with a strip of artist tape.

4. Aim for maximum protection when shipping valuable artwork to the UK

  • First, place your bubble-wrapped artwork between two pieces of foam board that (at least 1/2-inch thick) for an additional layer of protection.
  • Now tape the boards together with packing tape and create a “sandwich.” Try not to tape these boards together too tightly because too much pressure may damage the surface of the art.
  • If you’re shipping photography or similar high-gloss art, wear dustless nitrile or cotton art handling gloves. They work best when you want to prevent fingerprints or other potential blemishes.
  • Avoid packing peanuts, which can settle into the bottom of the box and leave the top edges of the art exposed.

5. Wrap your artwork in bubble wrapping material

  • What’s the best material to protect the surface of the painting? Two to three layers of bubble wrapping. Place the smooth side of this material against the art but let the bubbles face outward to avoid potential impressions.
  • Make sure all surfaces are thoroughly covered with at least 2 inches of bubbles, including edges and corners. Tape all seams of that bubble wrapping material with packing tape to provide a barrier against moisture.
  • When it comes to rolled artwork, make sure you wrap the painting with at least one layer of bubble wrapping. It’s mandatory that you seal everything with tape, before placing it in the mailing tube.
Painting on your wall before shipping valuable artwork to the UK
Be gentle with your new piece of art. Pad your work surface with a protective material like cardboard, foam, bubble wrap or cloth to avoid scrapes and scuffs.

6. Last but not least, seal your container with heavy-duty, high-quality packing tape

Cover all seams on the top and bottom of the container or tube completely. Use a strong, pressure-sensitive poly tape that’s at least 2 inches wide. Apply additional vertical strips of tape across these sealed parts for reinforcement. Skip the duct tape and any other household tapes to seal the container. It is not sturdy enough for transportation.

Items you will need for shipping art to the UK:

  • Tape measure
  • Shipping scale (optional)
  • Double-wall corrugated picture/mirror box or sturdy shipping tube
  • Glassine paper
  • Scissors
  • Artist tape or painters tape
  • Cling film (optional)
  • Cardboard corner protectors
  • Bubble wrap
  • Foam boards
  • Pressure-sensitive packing tape
  • Double-check drying times

When it comes to transporting your art, the packing and handling of your fine art is the most important part. You must handle each piece of art with the utmost care. At ReloSmart Movers Hong Kong, we truly understand all the intricacies of fine art packing and shipping for exhibitions, events, and conferences across the world.

Whether we will be shipping your sold work directly to your buyer, or providing full-service transportation to an Art Fair or Exhibition, every package will be conducted with maximum care, safety precautions, and consideration. Contact us because we offer a door to door pick-up and delivery service anywhere in the world. We will ensure the safe arrival of your artworks at their final destination. Just remember, some types of paint seem dry even if they’re not. Always check drying times and make sure that your painting is completely dry before shipping it.

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I was hoping to avoid the struggles of having to relocate altogether, but with ReloSmart Movers by my side, I’m glad I didn’t. The team did an incredible job – they arrived on time and handled everything perfectly!

David R.