A Crate or a Cardboard Box: What to Pick for Art Shipping

A Crate or a Cardboard Box What to Pick for Art Shipping

The first image that comes to mind when thinking about moving is a common brown cardboard box. Everyone who has ever moved to a new home has used them at least once. But if you need to transport artwork over a long distance, a lot of complications might arise since works of art are usually very fragile. Cardboard boxes can be useful, but is it a wise decision to put your breakables into something essentially made from paper? Let’s review what makes a crate so different from a cardboard box, and what pros and cons each one of them has.

A Crate vs. a Cardboard Box


Cardboard boxes are relatively easy to find. You can find them for cheap or even for free in a local store that does not use them anymore or can get them from a friend who has them laying around. While it is possible to buy wooden crates made specifically for shipping, it might not be as simple as buying cardboard boxes. You might need to have a crate custom-made for art or build it yourself at home. This will cost you more money and effort than just buying a box.


Cardboard boxes come in a variety of sizes. For example, some boxes are made specifically for shipping paintings or prints. You can also customize a shipping box by printing a logo or labeling it with a marker. However, you cannot get a box that is made specifically for the measurement of your odd-shaped artwork. Here is where crates have the advantage: a custom-made shipping crate will not leave extra space for your art piece to move around during transportation, lowering the risks of breakage.


Moving boxes are made out of cardboard that is usually biodegradable and recyclable. A cardboard box decomposes more quickly than a crate made from wood. However, moving boxes are not that sustainable: you can’t use them many times because they start to break. A crate, however, can be used repeatedly with no risk.


While there are sturdy cardboard boxes that you can additionally fill with cushioning materials to ensure the safety of your piece, wooden crates provide much more protection to your art for obvious reasons.


Cardboard boxes are lightweight, so they add little to the additional weight of the package. Because of their shape, both boxes and crates are easy to store in a car or a moving van. However, even thick cardboard can be dented during transportation. Crates are typically designed in a way that allows handlers to put them next to each other without damaging them.

If you are still not sure how to safely pack your art collection for your big move, consider getting help from Fine Art Shippers. Our professional art packers will help you choose the best packaging option for your paintings, sculptures, furniture, antiques, and more.