It’s the hardest part of moving. Sure, other parts of packing and unpacking might be more time consuming, but at least you can do them by yourself. Moving furniture on the other hand? That’s a much taller order. It’s heavy, it’s an awkward shape, and you’re not 100% how you managed to get it through the door in the first place.
On the other hand, figuring out how to move your furniture yourself instead of hiring a professional service can mean a difference of hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.
So, without further ado, here are some tips and tricks for moving the different large furniture items in your home.
Do You Really Have To Move It?
First things first, ask yourself if this really needs to come with you. When you’re making your moving checklist, your first instinct is probably to make sure everything in your home is on it. But what if this big, clumsy thing just… wasn’t?
Not that you should throw things away the second they become inconvenient, but some things are just not worth the effort of moving. This can include
- Cushioned and upholstered items more than 10 years old. (Including, if not especially mattresses)
- Items that are visibly damaged
- Items with that no longer work correctly
- Items you don’t have a place for.
These are far from the only situations where you’d be justified in throwing out furniture instead of bringing it with you, but there’s no reason to keep something that’s damaged or deteriorating in general, let alone if you have to put in a ton of work to move it.
Moving can be a great time to declutter, either by getting rid of things entirely or upgrading and replacing items at your new destination. Your first instinct might not be to include furniture in that calculation, but you should.
Your initial instinct when moving furniture in and out is to pick up, right side up, and carry it out your front door, because that’s just how you do things, right?
Moving large furniture as all about finding the correct angles, even if it’s upside down at a 30-degree angle. If that’s where the best hand-holds are, and that’s how you can pivot it down the stairs and out the door then that’s what you need to do.
If you’ve got patio or bay doors leading into your backyard, consider using them. It’s easier to carry some things a bit further than trying to force them through a small entryway.
If you’ve got a clearer path to your garage than your front door, consider moving heavy furniture into the garage, and using that as a staging area to move things onto the truck. Everything about moving is about breaking things down into smaller sections, loading furniture should be no exception.
Where possible considering taking doors off hinges. This will give you more clearance, and also prevent damage to the door or the furniture, as well as reducing the risk of injury to you and your helpers. In a pinch, some railings and handrails can be removed to create more space.
If you’re moving, you no doubt already have a hand truck. Also, you’ve no doubt realized that while it’s great for boxes, it’s not so hot for furniture.
Instead, consider getting a set of moving straps. Some moving companies will let you rent them along with your truck rental, or you can get them from just about any hardware store for about thirty bucks. They’re definitely worth the money either way.
Another option that you might be offered as part of your truck rental is a set of furniture dollies. They look like those scooters you rode around on in elementary gym class but made of wood and carpet. The difference being these are rated up to a thousand pounds. If they’re not available to rent, these are also going to be available from your local hardware store. They’re also definitely worth the money: they make moving a recliner sofa feel like pushing a shopping cart.
Finally, make sure that you’re protecting everything. Your first thought is probably “how am I going to move this without hurting myself” but once it’s in the truck, sharp corners can damage other pieces of furniture. Make sure those especially are wrapped and padded. You can buy or rent moving blankets, or you can make do with towels and quilts.
You should also invest in some stretch wrap. It’s a heavy-duty roll of saran that’s invaluable for securing and protecting furniture. It’s also fun to use. Get more than you think you’ll need.
Obviously lift with your legs, not your back. Make sure your path is clear. These all but go without saying.
More importantly, being careful is about having enough people to help. If you’re not using tools to help, you should have at least one person for every 50 pounds a piece of furniture weighs. If you’re going up and down stairs you should have a spotter. Even if you’re moving along a hallway or across an open room, having someone to keep your path clear can be essential.
Once you’ve loaded each piece of furniture, make sure it’s secured carefully. Some items with a low center of gravity can be packed carefully and weighed down, and not need to be secured extensively. Anything that’s liable to move around, or especially fall over, should be set against a wall and firmly strapped in.
Sometimes, as much as you don’t want to, being careful can mean getting professional help. If you have enough people and all the right tools, and you still don’t feel comfortable and equipped to move the heaviest pieces of your furniture, it might be time to call in the professionals.
Being careful can also mean different things for different types of furniture. Here are some suggestions for moving specific types of furniture.
Your couch is probably the thing you’re most likely to struggle with moving. It’s also likely been the most used piece of furniture, so again, go over it with a critical eye and make sure it’s worth packing with you.
If it is, you’ll need at least two people to help move it. You’ll probably need more if it’s a recliner or hideaway bed. For the most part, most of what we’ve talked about above applies to couches perfectly. To recap:
- Make sure you have a clear, and easy route to where you’re loading.
- Furniture dollies will make everything but stairs a breeze.
- Use a spotter for stairs.
- Carrying the couch at an angle or upside down will make it easier to fit through doors.
- Remove doors from their hinges if you’re at all worried about clearance.
The more you think ahead, the less work this will be. Granted, you will still have to lift the couch, but the less time you can spend doing that, the better.
For the most part, beds are going to be easy. They break down into mattress, box spring, and frame. If you’re lucky, the frame breaks down into headboard, footboard, rails, and slats. Individually they shouldn’t be too heavy, but if you opted for a solid wood headboard, the furniture dollies are going to come in handy again.
One the whole, moving a bed is quite simple for its size.
- Separate the bed into as many components as you can.
- Put the mattress in a mattress bag.
- Use furniture dollies to move the mattress and any other parts that might be difficult to carry. (You don’t have to use the dollies for the mattress, but its an awkward shape and hard to get a good grip on, even if you’re using a bag)
If the drawers come out of your dresser, congratulations, your job just got ten times easier. In fact, if the drawers come out, you can even just leave everything in the drawers, stretch-wrap them shut, and use them as moving boxes.
If they don’t come out, things might be a bit more complicated.
- Take the drawers out.
- If the drawers don’t come out, empty them completely, and stretch-wrap them shut.
- Dressers will often fit on a hand cart, or on your furniture dollies.
- If this isn’t an option, turn and carry the dresser lengthwise. DO NOT use the drawers or their handles as carry points.
If you’re lucky, dining sets are another item that can be broken down into smaller components. Many tables can have their legs removed and replaced without any lasting damage.
- Move table and chairs separately.
- Check if the legs can be removed.
- If they can, carry the flat, table portion out vertically (perpendicular to the floor), wrap together with legs, and load into the truck vertically.
- If they cannot be removed, carry the table with the flat surface perpendicular, or at an angle. Store on the truck with its legs in the air, padded with a quilt or moving blanket.
- NOTE: table legs are meant to withstand vertical pressure, so carrying the table by its legs, or otherwise applying force to the legs might break or loosen them.
Make sure you actually want or need to move these. If you can coordinate with the people moving into your old place, to take on your current appliances, or moving out of your new place (or if you’ve built or purchased from a new development) to see if appliances will already be there, you should. Buying new appliances will also ensure they fit correctly in your new place.
If you really want to bring your current appliances, or can’t avoid bringing them, here’s what you should know.
- Absolutely use tools. A hand cart will carry most appliances. Use moving straps anywhere you can’t use your hand cart.
- Appliances are weirdly both very heavy and extremely delicate. If they move around inside the truck, they’re going to break everything, including themselves. Consider getting some sort of cargo or shipping crate to make securing them easier.
- Use cargo straps to secure it at the front of the truck/trailer (against a wall, and as far inside as you can.)
Moving, especially if you’re doing it yourself, is about planning and caution. Nowhere is this more true than dealing with furniture and large items. With the correct planning, support, and execution, your move should be painless.
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