If you are planning to move or need to ship fine china, proper packing is very important to keep it protected from damage while in transit. To ensure your fine china arrives at its destination safely, proper packaging is required. Here are 5 key steps to follow when packing china, dishes, or other fragile items:

Step 1 – Setup a Clean Work Space

Fine china is delicate. When packing china or fragile items, protect them by starting with a clean and clear space. A large, empty dining room table, or open floor area works best. Clearing this space will help you keep track of all your items and materials, limit damage and ensure proper packing. There’s nothing worse than realizing you forgot to pack a piece because you lost it in a cluttered work space, or damaging an item because you don’t have enough room to work.

When packing fine china or fragile items, we also recommend working on a soft surface. Lay down some thick blankets or work on top of carpet. Once you have selected a clear area, lay all the items out in front of you so you can see what you have to work with.

Step 2 – Acquire Your Materials

The right materials can make all the difference in the safety of your china. For the security of your pieces you should use new packing materials (new packing materials are also required if you plan to insure your property during transit).

Measure and record each piece of your china so you know the type and quantities of packing materials you will need. Once you have collected all of the measurements, find a box that is at least 1 inch larger (internal measurements) on every side than the widest part. Keep in mind that these measurements must account for any packaging supplies on the individual pieces. You will also need a double walled box that is 3″ bigger on all sides than your first box.

Materials List

  • Tape Gun
  • Measuring Tape
  • Tissue Paper
  • Large Bubble Wrap – 1/2″ 12″ x 12″ or 12″ x 24″ sheets
  • Small Bubble Wrap – 3/16″ 12″ x 12″ or 12″ x 24″ sheets
  • Packing Peanuts
  • Inner Boxes  (14″ x 14″ x 20″ suggested)
  • Double Walled Dish Pack Boxes (18″ x 18″ x 27″ suggested)
  • Pressure-Sensitive Plastic Packing Tape (2″ or 3″ wide)

Step 3 – Group Like Items

If you are packing different varieties and sizes of fine china or dishes, then you want to start by grouping like items – plates with plates, bowls with bowls, saucers with saucers, etc. If none of them are similar then you can skip this step and move on to the “Tissue Paper” section below.

If your pieces are very different in size and weight, or if any of them are extremely delicate, you might want to consider boxing each individual piece in a small box then placing all the small boxes in one large double walled box, making sure to still follow the packing instructions below. If this is the case, the box should be evenly balanced with heavy and light items. If you overload one side the box is likely to be damaged on the heavier side.

Tissue Paper

Take your tissue paper and scotch tape and neatly wrap every item, keeping them organized by kind and size. Use scotch tape instead of packing tape as the latter is very strong and can rip right through the tissue paper. Note: People often use newsprint to wrap and pad their china for transit. This, however, is not recommended as it is not a material eligible for insurance and it does not sufficiently protect the items.

Bubble Wrap

Once the pieces are wrapped with tissue paper, wrap each piece with 3/16 inche bubble wrap, covering every exposed area. You can tape the bubble wrap with the packing tape. You should no longer feel the china underneath the padding.

Next, you are going to bubble wrap again, but this time with a larger bubble. Using 1/2 inch bubble wrap, repeat the above process. Most dishes and fine china pieces break because they bump into each other as they shift in the box during transit. The moving boxes you put your china in will travel through multiple hands, trucks and locations. The best way to pack dishes is to err on the side of caution and prepare for the worst by packing your china securely.

Packaged Fine China

Step 4 – Pack Your Fine China Plates
If you are packing china plates, you can stack them. Instead of wrapping each plate, snake the small bubble wrap between each piece. After snaking around all pieces, wrap the entire bundle of plates in both directions with the 3/16 inch bubble wrap. If the plates are heavy, do not stack more than 5 at a time. If they are light and small, like saucers, do not stack more than 6. Use your best judgment if you feel you need to stack fewer plates or wrap them individually. Only matching plates, size and kind, should be stacked.

After wrapping the bundle in small bubble wrap you should then wrap it in 1/2 inch bubble wrap, one time, minimum, in each direction. The idea behind this method is that if you push your finger into any part of the finished bundle you should not be able to feel any part of any plate inside. If you can feel the hard surface, add more bubble wrap.

Void Fill

Fill the bottom of the inner box with a minimum of 3 inches of packing peanuts and place one layer of items along the bottom. The items should never come within 3 inches of the outside of the box. Now add another layer of packing peanuts to at least 2 inches above the first layer of items. Gently shake the inner box so the peanuts settle and add another layer of items. Continue this process until you are 1-2 inches from the top of the inner box.

Once you have put your final layer of items in the box, mound the packing peanuts over the top of the box so when it is closed gentle pressure holds the peanuts and the items in place. Do not put too much pressure as you do not want to break your china.

Double Walled Box

Place 3 inches of packing peanuts on the bottom of your double walled dish pack box.  Gently place the packed inner box on top of the peanuts and then surround the void space with packing peanuts. Secure the outside of the box by evenly applying tape across flaps and seams on the top and bottom of the outer box. Warning: do not use cellophane tape, duct tape, masking tape, string, or rope to seal your package.

Step 5 – Ship Your Fine China
Always choose a reliable carrier when shipping fine china or fragile items. If you are an individual looking for a shipper, we recommend using either Ship Smart or Transit Systems.

If you are a retailer or a company that specializes in second-hand goods and are in search of a solution for shipping fine china or other fragile items, please reach out to us at contact@shiphawk.com. We would be happy to help.