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Packing & Moving Household Goods/Printable version

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Introduction to Packing & Moving Household Goods[edit | edit source]

There is a lack of knowledge among laymen today about good techniques for DIY (do it yourself) packing, moving, storing and trucking of household goods. People who plan to move themselves mostly consider this activity to be a simple, no-brainer, muscle-mutt kind of thing. But if they were to observe well trained professional movers efficiently and quickly doing a move or if they were to have a painful injury or a costly damage during their move, they might take a whole different view of the matter.

In order to expedite their move and avoid the grief of personal injuries and / or costly furniture damages, everyone who self-moves would benefit greatly from some solid instruction about how to properly relocate their furniture and other household goods. Knowledge and implementation of good DIY moving methods would definitely help people to save money, which is their main motivation behind their self moving, isn’t it?

When one searches around, there are only 3 or 4 books to be found anywhere on the subject of household goods packing and moving. The problem with each of these books is that they’ve been written by someone who has frequently used professional movers for their relocations. So, not being professional movers, these authors are neither experienced nor qualified to teach DIY moving techniques and they don’t! Their books only inform people about what-to-do when they relocate their homes with a mover. They don’t teach the importance of securely padding and safely lifting and carrying major furniture pieces which is information which is vital during actual DIY moving. When done correctly these techniques make the moving task easier and safer; thus preventing personal injuries and / or costly furniture damages.

Another source for this kind of information could be the big name national moving Van Line companies. They all have internal training texts and videos for their employees which teach them good moving technique. Unfortunately, these companies have no motivation to make their teachings available to the general public because they want to be doing everyone's relocations themselves on a for-hire basis. So, for them to make their intellectual property available for DIY moving would appear to be cutting their own throats (so to speak) in the moving business. However, on the Internet if people search around they will find that many of these professional movers’ websites do give some free moving tips but these all boil down to being merely moving checklists with some packing advice. These moving and packing tips are primarily given to draw people to the mover's website in hopes that they will contact the mover for a quote.

There are also the rental truck company websites that give free moving tips but these too are inadequate because they merely describe what-to-do, such as suggesting that people pad their furniture in order to protect it while its being moved. But they don't show exactly how to properly and snugly do that padding so that the pads wont slip while the movers are struggling to carry that heavy furniture piece up or down stairs.

Consequently, there just doesn’t seem to be any teaching material anywhere that instructs people comprehensively about good professional packing, moving, storing and trucking techniques. And yet there is a huge potential audience all over the world for this information! the American population alone is now reported as being over 300,000,000 people, which compacts down into an audience of about 85 - 90,000,000 total family units (approximately 3.5 people per unit). Its a statistical fact that approximately 20% of this population relocates every year, which equates to 15 - 20,000,000 American family units relocating every year. Beyond this large American audience, there are also many, many millions of mobile family units worldwide that have the same need-to-know about good relocating techniques. Developing countries invariably also bring forth a big middle class that accumulates nice possessions and they too will need to occasionally relocate as time goes on. So overall there is a tremendously vast audience for this kind of instruction.

Many of these mobile people will be doing various forms of self moving, especially if they are in the 18 to 35 year old age group who are not yet affluent enough to afford to hire a professional mover and are still young enough and strong enough to take on this daunting task themselves. These younger people could learn how to do all of their moving the easy way, through finding and utilizing this instruction here but most will probably learn it the hard way by relocating themselves untrained. And unfortunately, some of these untrained people will actually learn how difficult moving can be the extremely hard way by incurring grievous and expensive personal injuries and / or costly damages to their goods and property. These unfortunates wont end up saving any money at all by doing their own moving because of such unexpected extra expenses. Instead they will wish to God that they had just hired professional movers and spared themselves a whole lot of costly, unprofitable bother.

An example[edit | edit source]

For instance, as has been done below, people will be taught how to tightly and snugly pad an armoire and cardboard its glass (if it has any) in order to protect it during moving.

Snugly padding a furniture piece also makes it easier for the movers to grip and handle it while it is being moved than if its left bare. Such padding also holds the drawers in and protects the piece from scrapes, abrasions, rubs and nicks to its finish from bumping into walls and doorways while it is being carried.

Why Wikibooks?[edit | edit source]

This Wikibook is an attempt to reach this huge global audience with this information by using Wikipedia's worldwide impact.

As an open source Wikibook there is also a hope that other experienced movers and knowledgeable laymen around the world will participate by adding what they know about moving to its content so that people everywhere will become better and better informed about how to safely and efficiently accomplish their household goods moving, packing, storage and trucking.

Primary Moving Considerations[edit | edit source]

In order to learn how to relocate household goods properly, a number of factors need to be considered in order for you to avoid painful and costly personal injuries and / or expensive damages to your furniture so that you can move as economically as possible.

The primary moving day considerations are...

In Correct Order of Priority –

  1. Movers safety when moving
  2. Safety of the article being moved and the surfaces involved
  3. Minimizing moving time spent on each moving task
  4. Meeting moving time deadlines
  5. Minimizing Your Aggravation
  6. Minimizing Moving Costs

Minimizing moving costs should be your very last consideration, even if it's your first objective.

If you keep all of the above-mentioned considerations about moving yourself in the above given proper order as you do your move, you will find that you automatically end up nicely saving all of the money you're hoping to save!

You do not want to have any of the above mentioned considerations out of this order at any time or you will make faulty decisions that could increase your moving costs, cause you a lot of aggravation and significantly increase the time you spend on your move. Take a few moments to think about each of these 6 categories and their priority of consideration.

When corners are cut, the safety of movers, the public, and your items are at risk! Quick fix solutions to save money can result in much more expensive losses later.

For instance, if you rush the moving task you will in effect be putting the (1.) Safety of the movers and (2.) Safety of the article being moved into lower priority than (3.) Minimizing your overall time spent moving. As a direct result of that shift in priorities, furniture can be unnecessarily damaged and / or someone could be seriously injured which would bring you guilt and a lot of problems such as a costly injury and / or expensive damages to your furniture and / or to expensive floor surfaces. Besides forcing you into increased costs, you will also encounter unwanted aggravation and who knows how much extra time spent rectifying these problems. Therefore, we have given you quite a bit of information about each of these considerations for your review so that by keeping the right priorities you will make right moving day choices and accomplish all of your time and money saving goals.

First and foremost, it is wise for all of your movers to know safe moving techniques in order to avoid personal injuries. These are the worst kinds of problems to encounter on moving day. You certainly don't want to see anyone get hurt helping you and it can get quite costly at a hospital to treat some emergency injuries.

Second, you obviously don't want valuable furnishings damaged so you will need to learn how to properly pack and / or snuggly blanket wrap as many of your household goods as possible in order to protect them.

You will need to learn floor, wall, door and ceiling protection in order to avoid costly and aggravating real estate property damages.

Additionally, you need to learn correct trucking procedures in order to avoid truck accidents, occupant injuries and / or furniture damage on the truck

Taking a shortcut on any of these tasks could cause you to have some very painful and / or costly personal injury and / or property damage expenses that could and should have been easily avoided. The old axiom - better safe than sorry - is certainly true when you're moving!

Movers safety when moving[edit | edit source]

The very most important consideration for your moving task is Mover's Safety. The following are just a few moving safety tips to protect your moving helpers…

  • Always wear good waterproof shoes with firm slip resistant soles.
  • Make sure your path is clear and well lighted before carrying a load.
  • If possible, know where to put down a load before you even lift the load up.
  • Everyone watch for and signal others of uneven surfaces which could cause tripping and / or stumbling or could cause a load to dump from a dolly.
  • Never hurry when carrying a load. Take your time and if the load's heavy, set it down periodically and rest. Your strength will last longer with occasional rests.
  • When carrying big furniture using 2-3-4 men be sure you can hear one another and that you all speak the same language. Use simple, short commands that can be yelled to one another when visibility is restricted like pick and set and go and stop and backup!
  • Organize your work area to eliminate unnecessary redundant lifting or moving.
  • If walking over snow or ice or water or over a padded glossy hardwood floor take extra care to stay balanced and to not slip.
  • Keep children & pets out of the moving area.

Remember, we cannot emphasize it enough; Mover's Safety is the very most important consideration when moving yourself!

Safety of the article being moved and the surfaces involved[edit | edit source]

Generally speaking, prior to being carried or dollied out of your residence, most household goods should be blanket wrapped or boxed up in order to prevent damages to them while they are being transported.

Boxing items[edit | edit source]

All goods that can be packed in boxes should each be thoroughly bubble wrapped or paper wrapped in such a manner that they won't clank or roll around loose inside the box. If bubble wrap is unavailable wrap items in paper and use crushed paper all around the box and in between each item for further protection. Actually, bunched up paper is the best cushioning for boxed goods, even better than bubble wrap because the bubbles can break within the bubble wrap, especially along the edges of things so it can lose its cushioning property.

As the box is being filled, the things inside should be further protected with additional bubble wrap or bunched up paper on the bottom, on the sides and on the top of the box. Then close and well seal the box with tape. Don't just slide the four flaps on the top and bottom together because they can come loose as it's being handled and breakables can fall out of the box. Instead, again not sliding the flaps together but just closing them, always use at least 3 runs of tape to seal each end of the box. Run the tape from the middle of the side of the box up and over or down and under it and down / up the other side finishing by overlapping the top and bottom tape ends in the middle of the side of the box so that they won't come loose. Run your hand over all of this taping to make sure that it is stuck tightly to the box sealing it well.

Padding furniture[edit | edit source]

All furniture should be completely and snugly blanket wrapped top and bottom. This protects the furnishing from scuffing, scratching or scraping. Moving pads can be rented with your truck from the truck rental facility.

Items that can't be protected[edit | edit source]

Any thing that cannot be padded for protection like bicycles, long floor lamps, rolled up big rugs, etc. should be very carefully carried and loaded somewhere in the truck where nothing will damage it. If this is not possible, you should put it into someone's car. The key consideration when relocating your home, after the mover's safety of course, is to do the move without damages to your goods or furnishings.

Minimizing moving time spent on each moving task[edit | edit source]

Generally speaking there are all kinds of moving checklists to be found on the Internet. Most of these are concerned with finding a new residence, transferring bank accounts, notifying the post office of change of address, transferring schools for children, etc. These are very important and necessary things for you to plan for and do but they are not included here for now. We will be updating this section with that information in the near future but for now just do a Google search on the term "moving checklists" and you'll find plenty of them. We have elected to limit our moving checklist here to just tasks necessary for the transport of your household goods.

Some of the following entries may even be too much formal planning for a small move but these are still steps that will need to be taken.

The limited moving checklist categories that we suggest you make are;

  1. Setting Date of Move
  1. Setting Packing Date(s)
  1. Setting Disposal Date
  1. Establishing a List of Helpers and Dates that they will Help
  1. Who will Obtain Inexpensive Moving Materials
  1. Each Room - Sorting / Disposing / Packing Plan
  1. Researching and Date of Scheduling Handymen / Technicians
  1. Premove Planning for Furniture Disassembly / Reassembly / Padding
  1. Researching to Find and Reserve the Right Rental Truck
  1. Furniture Placement Planning for Destination

Sorting out household goods and disposing of unnecessary things and carefully packing or wrapping the things you are keeping, in advance of move day, expedites your move.

You can usually take your sweet time unpacking many things when you are done with the move.

Meeting moving time deadlines[edit | edit source]

You need to set realistic deadlines for tasks such as sorting and disposal, packing and cleaning to be done before move day. Then you need to strive to keep them. This way you will be fully prepared for your ultimate time deadline of your actual move day as compared to if you procrastinate and wait until the last minute to try to get everything ready. By breaking down the tasks into manageable chunks and distributing them over an appropriate period of time, you can not only ensure a successfully executed move but can also give yourself the opportunity to handle any last-minute issues that may arise without feeling overwhelmed or rushed.

Planning[edit | edit source]

If people are going to help you sort, clean and pack then make a full party day out of it, giving yourself plenty of hours and help to get everything done. A full Saturday or Sunday usually works best because people are off from work and have time available. Have cleaning supplies and packing materials handy so that trips to the store are not necessary. This is a good time to use up your old cleaning supplies so that you won't have to move them on moving day. Have refreshments available for nibbling all thru the party but do not bring out alcoholic beverages until everything is done.

Confirm your moving date and time with all of your moving personnel one or two weeks in advance. Plan to have an early breakfast at a nearby restaurant that you pay for on your day of move. Here, in a nice, friendly, casual environment you can relax, pull your thoughts together and advise each person of potential problems, elevator times, and special needs such as last minute packing, handyman work, etc before starting the job. They can also give you advice and you should listen carefully to all that is discussed because many minds can improve your plans.

If possible plan for a second day to finish the move out of your old residence because you may need extra time to finish everything and to cleanup at either location. But if your move must all be done in one day, when you confirm their planned participation alert them to please stay until the very end.

Have enough people, and then some[edit | edit source]

Extra hands make light work!

Try to get way more than enough people to commit to you to help you with your move. Make a hard job easy! On moving day things will get done very rapidly and easily if more than enough people are helping. One of the managers at Burrows Moving Company had to move his 5-room apartment from a high third floor to his new residence on a second floor. He used 8 men instead of the usual 4 or 5 that most people would use on a move this size. The job was entirely finished in only 4 hours instead of 7 or 8 hours and then the movers were still pretty fresh and not all worn out. So, when they were done they all went out and got some beer and pizza and spent the rest of the afternoon watching the football games!

And please be aware that some committed people will not make it on moving day for one reason or another, so by having more than enough people precommitted, when this happens you'll end up with at least just enough to do the job.

Minimizing Your Aggravation[edit | edit source]

Basic planning[edit | edit source]

Moving preparation and organization are the major determining factors to achieving an efficient move with a minimal amount of aggravation. Premove planning will go a long way towards making your move is trouble-free because it will help you to foresee a lot of things well ahead of moving day. Moving organization is major when it comes to minimizing your moving aggravation.

Hazards should be noted ahead of time. You should advise all of your moving people of any damaged or fragile furniture, weak or broken stairs, loose railings or of any other impediments which they may encounter on the move path at either location.

High-rise moving[edit | edit source]

An elevator is essential to a quick move into a high rise.

If you live in a high-rise building, be sure to reserve exclusive elevator time well in advance of your move date. Make sure that another move does not coincide with yours or you'll waste a whole lot of time sharing the elevator with the other movers and in so doing, things may get mixed up. Some high-rise buildings have a loading dock designed to accommodate only one truck at a time. If your move is delayed and another mover is scheduled to use it after you, you may lose your spot to them at the loading dock and / or you may have to finish your move another day! Some building management personnel, especially in hi-rise condominiums, are stubborn and unbending on elevator time schedules.

Parking[edit | edit source]

Parking in front of your residence should be reserved for your moving truck. Do whatever you can to reserve close-by parking for your moving truck at your originating and destination addresses. You can reserve parking spaces with your car, a friend or relative's car, or saw horses. Call your local police dept. or your alderman / city councilman to get no parking signs to put out in advance to save the close-by parking spaces for the day of your move. Police will honor these and will have violators towed away for you. Remember, your moving van cannot block the street or the alley or the police might ticket it.

Also, if the movers have to walk half a block with your furniture to or from the truck, your move will become quite aggravating because it will take longer and cost you more and you will have greater risk of damages.

Don't forget it![edit | edit source]

Don't forget your ladders, hoses, garden tools and toolboxes. Be absolutely certain that everything has been loaded on the truck before releasing the moving crew to the next location. It is not wise to leave a location early or to be absent from either location for very long since you may have important information in your mind that has not yet been communicated to the movers. If you were to leave early or arrive at the destination late, everything may not be done the way you had hoped it would be done.

Do a walk thru of your old residence after the moving truck has been loaded with all of its contents. Double check everywhere including all cabinets, drawers, closets, pantries, bins, under the stairs, attic, basement, garage, nooks and crannies, in the back yard or storage lockers. Make sure you have all of the hardware to any disassembled furniture pieces so that it can easily be located for reassembly. Look at all inside or outside places where small things like tools or hardware can be left sitting (including window sills and corners).

Minimizing Moving Costs[edit | edit source]

Don't cheap out![edit | edit source]

A pizza is cheaper then hired help, and keeps your friends happy and energenic.

You won't save money by renting the cheapest, smallest moving truck because you'll probably have some kind of unexpected cost increasing trouble with it like having to make an extra trip or having to leave some things behind because they won't fit on the truck!

You won't save money by being cheap with your free help. Provide some refreshments for your volunteer friends / relatives because otherwise they'll just want to leave early or they won't come at all. Pizzas or cold cut sandwiches are inexpensive and filling. Save alcoholic beverages until after all the moving is done and the truck is returned.

Don't rush the moving crew[edit | edit source]

You won't save money by rushing your moving crew because this will make them nervous and lead to damages or personal injuries. If you have free volunteer labor then why rush them? That's not going to save you anything. Instead just relax and enjoy their company and be thankful for any help at all that you get from them even if they're slow as molasses. You can always jump in and help the slowpokes to speed up their tasks. Keep in mind the movers are professional and have a duty of care not to damage your goods. It is worth a move taking 30 minutes longer over all to have your favorite chair in one piece.

If you're using professional movers who are charging by the hour let them work at their own pace. If you think they're moving too slowly complain to the management after the move is over and ask for a refund of some of your labor costs. Rushing a professional moving crew while they're doing your job will only backfire on you because they'll resent an amateur like yourself telling them what to do. And if they are slow then do not tip them even if they pressure you to do so. Make sure that they have a written guarantee of service. Insurance does not cover accidental damage, and lets face it you cant prove to an insurance company it was deliberate!

Save your complaints for management and pay by credit card only. If they don't make things right then dispute the charge with your credit card company. You may also complain to the Better Business Bureau and to your local State Commerce Commission and to your local State Movers and Warehouseman's Association and to any other mover's watchdog agency that you can find. You can also take the company to Small Claims Court where most judges side with the mover's customer and you'll probably get reimbursed much more than the mover wants to give you!

How to actually save money[edit | edit source]

You will save money by renting the appropriate moving equipment to make the job easier. Rent dollies and enough pads to cover all of your furniture so you don't have costly scratch damages. And get plenty of good mover's tape for packing to securing the blanket wrappings to the furniture.

You will save money by obtaining free used boxes wherever you can but don't go insane looking for them. If you run out of time before you have enough boxes then you'll have to buy some, so start collecting them early. Bond paper boxes from your office are great for books and paper files.

You will save money using regular newspapers for packing but you will spend extra time and aggravation hand washing everything you pack in them because newsprint ink won't come off in the dishwasher. And be aware that if you wrap porous items like clay pots or lampshades or rough finish computers in them you'll never get the newsprint ink out.

Also be aware that if your being moved by a volunteer moving crew and no one gets injured and nothing gets broken during your move they have saved you from 60% to 75% of what you would have paid a professional moving company to move you! That's where most of the cost savings occur in do it yourself moving.

Other Moving Considerations[edit | edit source]

Sorting and disposing of goods[edit | edit source]

Most people are packrats to some degree. Nearly everyone's home has old junk in it that should no longer be there. Of course, what is categorized, as old junk is entirely subjective to your personal opinion. Only you know what you still want or need. So you should try to decide before move day just what all you want to be transported to the new residence and what all you want to dispose of.

Arrangements should be made well in advance for disposal of unwanted things. Agencies such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army can help with this but be aware that when they arrive to collect things from you they may turn down some things that you are counting on them to remove. So be sure to have alternative arrangements for disposal in place such as community garbage pickup service or dumps.

Packing and blanket wrapping[edit | edit source]

Once disposables have been identified, all goods that are being kept and that can be boxed should be properly and carefully boxed up and labeled. Goods that cannot be boxed such as furniture should be blanket wrapped if possible to protect them. Normally, moving blankets can be obtained from truck rental facilities in advance for pre-move wrapping of non-vital furniture. Blanket wrapping is very important for furniture protection and is not easy to do. The rest of your things will have to be moved unprotected, so just be very careful with them and try to carry some of the smaller things in your car. Small appliances such as toasters, mix masters, radios, toaster ovens, blenders, George Foreman type grills, etc. should all be carefully packed into boxes and moved as fragiles because they can be quite costly to replace. Remember, you're out to save money and each thing that you can fully preserve from damages during the move saves you repair or replacement money.

Truck rental[edit | edit source]

Rent a big enough truck to move your whole load in one trip unless you are moving very nearby in which case a smaller truck with multiple trips will be fine. Carefully inspect the truck for existing body damages and note them on your rental contract. Make sure the truck body is clean inside and if you have a lift gate – thoroughly test it. Study and learn good truck driving techniques and how to safely get in and out of the truck cab and the side or back of the truck. Be aware of bad weather truck driving considerations too. Always keep a big distance interval between your truck and other traffic. Make wide swings around corners so as not to have cut off accidents and watch your height restrictions on overpasses and viaducts.

Moving high value items[edit | edit source]

High value items include currency, coin, stamp collections, high value artwork, expensive small statuary, etc.

Do all of this kind of moving very carefully by yourself. If anything gets broken or disappears for some reason you only want yourself to blame. Don't trust anybody else with these kinds of light, valuable items because if anything goes wrong with them, it will become a nightmare for you. Breakage or loss of these kinds of valuables can lead to accusations, outbursts of anger, loss of friendship or close relationship, police involvement, law suits, etc., etc., etc.

Providing your moving and packing helpers with facilities[edit | edit source]

When relatives and / or friends are helping you to pack up and move your home it’s wise to make conditions for them as comfortable as possible. During working periods, just having tasty snacks and non-alcoholic drinks on hand can do that. Ordering pizzas, chicken, easy snack food food or other kinds of meals will also be appreciated. Remember, these folks are giving you their help and saving you the cost of employing costly packers and movers, so these relatively inexpensive, thoughtful gestures will help to make their work for you much more pleasant.

You can also let them pick their own radio stations or TV stations while they're packing your things up. Again this makes the work environment more pleasant for them. And be sure there is plenty of bathroom tissue, Kleenex and air freshening spray where it can be easily found in the bathroom so your people don't have to ask embarrassingly for it.

Never bring forth alcoholic beverages for your helpers until the day's work is completed. Alcohol makes people get prematurely tired and lazy so save it until everything to be done that day is actually finished. Then maybe go ahead and relax and unwind with a couple of drinks with them but make sure there's a designated driver who stays sober. Any DUI's issued that evening would be a terrible downer for the recipient, for you and for any of your folks who helped out.

Disassemble beds and desks, saving all hardware[edit | edit source]

Large furniture like beds and desks are typically shipped disassembled. This allows them to be moved into rooms either more easily, or in some cases, at all. When you move, you will want to disassemble your beds or desks prior to shipping. Not only will this help you move these items in and out of rooms, it drastically reduces the size they use in shipping by making them much easier to pack efficiently.

That said, the mover must ensure they keep, and track, every screw, panel, and rod removed during disassembly - You won't be able to do a good job doing the reassembly without them.

If assembly instructions are not available for your particular item, consider video recording yourself disassembling the object for later reference. This is by no means perfect, but it may help you work backwards when reassembling.

Remove mirrors from dressers or walls[edit | edit source]

Mirrors have a well earned reputation for being exceptionally fragile, breaking from even weak bumps and knocks. Removing mirrors from furniture prior to moving is thus a good idea - this way even if the mirror breaks, it at least will be contained and not compromise other items from moving.

Remove air conditioners from windows[edit | edit source]

Removing a window air conditioner unit can be difficult. These units are often heavy, hard to balance, and may leak drainage water onto you if you aren't careful during removal. Follow manufacturer instructions for removal, and ideally have another person on standby in case help is needed.

Packing Tips[edit | edit source]

Proper and complete packing is one of the most important things that you can do to save time, money, and aggravation on moving day! Packing as many of your household goods as possible protects them and makes them easy to carry and transport. If you are not fully packed when your moving crew arrives then they have to take time out from the moving task to help you finish your packing. If the packing is already done on moving day it will be much less aggravating for you and everyone concerned.

Start Packing Early[edit | edit source]

Don't save all your packing for the last day! This is one of our major packing and moving tips! Begin packing items that are not normally needed well in advance because packing gets more and more tiresome over time. So it is wise to jump-start the packing endeavor as much as possible while you are enthused about it.

Basically, use common sense when packing. Pack heavier things like books and canned goods in smaller boxes, and pack lighter things in progressively larger boxes. Never make a box heavier than the lady of the house can handle, since she may be the one who ends up moving it around before or after the move. A book box full of books or records or paperwork will weigh approximately 40 to 50 pounds (18 to 23 kg) This is quite heavy so don’t make bigger boxes heavier than that.

Packing Table[edit | edit source]

A packing table makes packing boxes much easier.

Set up a worktable or cover your kitchen or dining room table so that you can do the majority of your packing on it in the upright position. Bending and stooping to pack will wear you out quickly and cause muscle aches. Keep this work area as open as possible to make the packing task easier for you.

Stack each packed box against a wall out of the way after it is sealed shut to await moving day. Keep clear, unobstructed paths in your residence to prevent the possibility of tripping.

Packing Materials[edit | edit source]

The moving industry has standard sized boxes that are best to use during your move if you can get them from a local mover or moving supply house. These include wardrobes (comes with a bar across the top to hang clothes on), dish packs (for dishes!), large, medium and book cartons (small). There are also mirror/picture cartons for mirrors, pictures, glass table tops and other fragile, large, flat objects and matress cartons for matresses. Don't forget that someone has to pick the box up after you pack it - don't load heavy objects in a large carton. You may also want to use bond paper boxes from your workplace, which are good for holding books and other small heavy items. All staples in top and bottom box flaps (not the staples on one side of the box that hold it together) of other kinds of boxes should be removed so as to safeguard surfaces such as wood floors, counter tops, and furniture where cartons may be stacked prior to pickup and after delivery.

Packer’s tape is best for sealing your boxes shut but be sure to get a good grade of it because cheaper grades tend to break unexpectedly. Make sure the bottom of the box is well taped.

Use bunched up clean paper or bubble wrap to pack your fragiles. Bunched up paper is considered the best of all wrappings for cushioning as opposed to hard to handle peanuts that can shift around in the box or bubble wrap that loses its cushioning power if some of the bubbles break.

Plastic wrap is great for keeping lids on things or keeping furniture drawers or doors shut without using tape and leaving its hard to remove residue on the finish. File cabinets and big plastic storage bins are good candidates for this treatment.

Newsprint Problems[edit | edit source]

Beware of Newspaper Print[edit | edit source]

Newspaper print residue must be hand washed off of all things it touches; dishwasher washing will not take it off. Also, print residue can ruin porous items like clay pots or lampshades or items with a rough finish like computer equipment. Packer’s paper is newspaper without print. It can be purchased most economically at a mover’s supply warehouse and movers will also sell it to you.

One possible solution is to use clothing to wrap, protect and cover fragile items.

Box Taping[edit | edit source]

Do not interlock box flaps together - always tape bottoms and tops with at least three strips of tape and at least halfway up or down the sides of the box for strength. Remember that taping reinforces the strength of the box, and yet can be easily cut with a blade later when unpacking. So use plenty of tape to secure your boxes.

Box Marking[edit | edit source]

Simplify parcel marking by making your information 100% visible. I wrote patents on this topic... US Patent 6090027 which marks a corner on three sides... with ink making it visible 21/24 viewings. And then US Patent 6598783 which connects any two corners with ink... with ink making it visible 24/24 times... as a dice may rotate.

This works on flat parcels and objects as well.

Mark the top and sides of all cartons by writing on the tape after the box is sealed shut. Describe contents and destination location (such as bedroom, kitchen, or basement). Have the writing on the box facing up to indicate which side of the box is up and which is down so that your movers don’t turn the box upside down during moving.

Marking boxes well will make identifying where things are in them easier when they are stacked on top of each other or in their new location. If the box is being reused, then using fresh tape over marked tape eliminates old markings. Some packers like to use color-coding such as colored tape wrapped once around the box or colored stickers pasted on the box to identify in what room at the destination to put the box.

Lifting Packed Boxes[edit | edit source]

Lift heavy items primarily with your legs. Squat directly in front of the load, pull it in tight to you and lift it with your legs, not your back. Set it back down the same way. If you must turn while carrying the load, then turn your whole body with your legs, don't swivel yourself at the waist. This simple moving tip can help you to avoid severe back injury while packing or moving.

Toolbox[edit | edit source]

Don't pack your toolbox, you may need some of your tools on move day.

Useful items may include:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver

Price Quote[edit | edit source]

Packing & Moving Household Goods/Price Quote

Checkbook[edit | edit source]

Don't pack your checkbook. Things may come up unexpectedly that require check payment. You should also payment cards, cash, etc in case of emergency.

Important Paperwork[edit | edit source]

If you are putting your goods in storage, don't pack away important papers that you may need like passports, driver's licenses, birth certificates, etc. Transport these separately, by yourself, in a secure manner.

Fragile Items[edit | edit source]

The cost of packaging a fragile item correctly is almost always far less than the cost of the fragile item.

Thoroughly wrap fragile items individually with packer’s paper, bubble wrap or foam wrap depending on the item. Use plenty of paper to line the top, bottom and side of each box for fragiles. Add cardboard to further cushion your fragiles. Never be afraid to use plenty of paper when packing expensive fragiles. Even if you feel like you are wasting money on paper - you are not because buying paper is a lot cheaper than fixing or replacing a broken expensive fragile item. Small fragile items may be wrapped and set into large, less fragile items for additional protection.

Plastic Containers[edit | edit source]

Plastic containers can deform a small amount, while still offering a limited amount of protection for the items inside.

Utilize empty Tupperware or kitchen plastic containers to protect some of your smaller fragiles from shock. Paper wrap the fragile item and put it into the plastic container, seal its lid shut and put the container into a box with other fragiles. Well sealed small plastic containers make excellent double protectors.

Small Items[edit | edit source]

Special care must be taken with small items so as not to lose them within the packing materials in a box. Taping over their wrapping is a good technique to highlight a small item (like the top of a sugar bowl) as not being merely a piece of bunched up paper (use brightly colored tape if available). Also, you could tape several of those small packets together into one bigger, heavier package that will stand out in the wrappings.

Wrap loose, small things such as silverware in bundles. Don't leave them loose in the box to clank around. Consider using sealable bags (With extra standard wrap for certainty during transit) for such items for easier sorting during the unpacking.

Glassware and China[edit | edit source]

Glassware and china should be wrapped with enough paper so as not to clatter within the box. You can also wrap glassware in small bubble wrap. Use plenty of paper to line the top, bottom and side of each box. Glasses should also be individually wrapped and packed standing up; they're stronger when standing than if laid on their side. Place in boxes marked fragile and stack all fragile boxes together for the movers. Make sure that you have overflow the box with paper and now you have to use some force to seal the box. This is to ensure that items would not move around during transport.

Plates[edit | edit source]

Plates should each be separated with disposable plastic or paper plates and wrapped in bundles of 4 to 6. Then stand the bundles on their side in a box with a cloud of soft stuff underneath - never lay plate bundles flat; all the weight would be on the bottom plate, and if the box is set down too strongly - the bottom plate could break!

Oil Paintings[edit | edit source]

Each oil painting should be covered over with a non-acidic clear plastic wrap and then bubble wrapped or wrapped in a paper pad, or foam wrap, and then placed in a picture box or a flattened out box, taping the ends shut once it's inside. Bubble wrap can leave impressions of the bubbles on oil paintings so be sure to use the non-acidic clear plastic wrap over the oil so that this doesn't happen.

Another option is to cover the oil painting with glassine. This is like wax paper, except a LOT larger. It is non-acidic. And it is available from most moving companies. When loading the packed Oil Paintings into a truck, keep them on their edge, do NOT lay flat, and keep closer to the floor rather than the roof where the temperatures are a lot hotter.

Glass Framed Pictures, Mirrors and Flat Pieces of Glass[edit | edit source]

Each of these should be individually wrapped in blankets and then packed in picture cartons or in flattened out cartons big enough to hold them with plenty of cushion on the ends and taped shut.

Lamps and Shades[edit | edit source]

Each of these should be placed in separate boxes with only one lamp or shade to a box, wrapped in clean white paper. Do not use newspaper with print or it will permanently mark the shades. Be sure the inside of each lampshade box is clean so that the shade does not pick up dirt.

Electronic Equipment[edit | edit source]

General[edit | edit source]

Electronic components should be wrapped in pads or blankets or paper or bubble wrap and boxed so that their knobs cannot be broken off and so that their finish will not be scratched.

Monitors and Televisions[edit | edit source]

Flatscreen monitors and televisions are very delicate.

CRT monitors and televisions are more durable, but do have the risk of implosion if their glass screen is shattered. CRT displays are also almost always much heavier then their flatscreen counterparts, and need special care to be moved safely if not on a dolly.

Desktop Computers[edit | edit source]

Desktop computers, especially those with with expansion cards, should be moved with care.

Suitcases[edit | edit source]

These should be used for holding special things because they are so easily identifiable in the clutter of move day. Things like winter / summer clothing or linens / sweaters are things that could be packed into them. Don't put CD's that could be shattered or heavy books into them.

Dispose of Liquids[edit | edit source]

Dispose of all Open Liquids[edit | edit source]

Transporting liquids adds additional complexity and risk. Avoid it if possible.

When disposing of liquids, keep in mind to do so properly, following safety instructions per liquid.

If you must save a liquid[edit | edit source]

Cleaning supplies, oils, liquid foods, paint and solvent containers should all be checked for a tight seal if you'd rather save and move them. In that case box them up, stuffing the boxes with a lot of bunched up paper, towels or cloths to absorb any drippage or spillage that might still occur. One good idea is to put one heavy-duty plastic trash bag into a second one and then line the box with this double layer to hold in any spilled liquids. Bottles and cans of liquids should be stood upright in the box using packing paper bunched up between some to hold them upright.

Safety[edit | edit source]

Never put ammonia and bleach bottles in the same box because the combination of those 2 particular household chemicals has been known to cause explosions! Place any boxes of liquids on the floor of the truck, not up in the load where spillage could damage your household goods.

Moving Tips[edit | edit source]

Complete Packing will Expedite your Move on Moving Day.[edit | edit source]

Proper Packing is one of the most important things that you can do to save time, money, and aggravation! If you are not fully packed on moving day then your moving crew will have to take time out from the moving to help you finish your packing and your moving day will go on and on and on…

Basically, use common sense when packing. Pack heavier things like books and canned goods in smaller boxes, and pack lighter things in progressively larger boxes. Never make a box heavier than the lady of the house can handle, since she may be the one who ends up moving it around before or after the move.

Go to Packing Tips for a complete write-up on what to do (with some how to do) instruction on proper packing.

Prepare a Moving Checklist[edit | edit source]

Prepare a moving checklist as soon as you know that you are going to move in order to minimize the time you'll need to spend on the whole moving task. Once you've made your checklist be sure to follow it but be prepared to make corrections as reality forces adjustments to your plans. It should include a timetable for packing, premoving and moving day activities along with a list of….

Notifications you will need to file when you relocate[edit | edit source]

  • Driver’s license facility
  • Post office
  • Schools
  • Banks or Credit Unions
  • Insurance companies
  • Telephone Company
  • Gas Company
  • Electric Company
  • Cable Company
  • Internet Service Provider
  • Disposal Company
  • Relatives
  • Friends
  • Subscriptions

Moving Insurance[edit | edit source]

Protect Your Move[edit | edit source]

No matter where you are moving to, insurance can help protect the things that you have worked so hard for over the years. Just like any other insurance policy, moving insurance takes a fee and then provides you cash payment if something is damaged while it is being moved.

Where to Buy Moving Insurance[edit | edit source]

There are a couple of different places that consumers can purchase moving insurance from. First is the moving company itself, which offers an insurance-like product called valuation. When you choose valuation instead of traditional insurance, you will be getting a set per pound amount for each pound of goods that is being shipped. Most companies offer a basic level of valuation coverage for free with the purchase of their services, but this is usually not enough to cover the value of the items being shipped. Consumers can, however, purchase additional coverage if they choose to.

Another place to get moving insurance is a traditional insurance company. Movers are not insurance companies, so their version of moving insurance is not actual insurance. When you choose a traditional policy, however, you will be dealing with actual insurance. These policies can be purchased separately or they can be added on to your homeowners policy. They cover the cost of each item individually rather than a per pound rate.

Things to Consider[edit | edit source]

Purchasing moving insurance is a very important part of every move. It is important that consumers think about the worth of their goods and find out how much of each type of insurance would be needed to replace everything. By doing this, consumers can guarantee that they have enough coverage.

Hazards[edit | edit source]

Hazards should be noted ahead of time. You should advise your moving people of damaged or very fragile furniture, weak or broken stairs, or impediments that may affect the move so that they can take extra care when around them.

Liquids[edit | edit source]

Cleaning supplies, oils, liquid foods, paint and solvent containers should all be checked for a tight seal if you'd rather save and move them. In that case box them up, stuffing the boxes with a lot of bunched up paper, towels or cloths to absorb any drippage or spillage that might still occur. One good idea is to put one heavy-duty plastic trash bag into a second one and then line the box with this double layer to hold in any liquids that might spill. Bottles and cans of liquids should be stood upright in the box using packing paper bunched up between some to hold them upright. Never put ammonia and bleach bottles in the same box because the combination of those 2 particular household chemicals has been known to cause explosions! Place any boxes of liquids on the floor of the truck, not up in the load where spillage could damage your household goods underneath.

Alcoholic Beverages[edit | edit source]

It is against the law to transport alcoholic beverage containers that have already been opened in any motor vehicle - even locked in the back of a truck - so definitely dispose of them!

Disassembly & Reassembly[edit | edit source]

When necessary remove mirrors from dressers or walls and pack them. Place them upright against a wall out of the way so that they don’t get broken. Remove air conditioners from windows.

Disassemble items that need to be taken apart and carefully save any hardware involved. Sometimes lost hardware is virtually impossible to replace. Put hardware in a baggie and if it goes with a desk or dresser; tape it inside the drawer where it can be found later. If it goes with a bed, tie the baggie to the bed rails. Move Us Again

Blanket Wrap Furniture[edit | edit source]

Blanket Wrapping Furniture[edit | edit source]

Blanket wrap all furniture, tables and chairs prior to moving them from your residence in order to fully protect them during the entire moving process. Don’t remove the pads until the furniture piece is to be put in place in the new residence. Secure the pads over the top and down all the 4 sides and even under the bottom of the furniture piece. This way it is fully protected no matter how you carry it or which way you set it down.

High Value Items[edit | edit source]

High Value Items include Currency / Coin / Stamp Collections, Artwork, Statuary.

Do all moving of high value items very carefully and privately by yourself. If anything gets broken or disappears for some reason you only want yourself to blame. Don't trust anybody else with these kinds of light, extremely valuable items because if anything goes wrong regarding them during your move, it will become a nightmare for all of you. Breakage or loss of these kinds of valuables can lead to accusations, outbursts of anger, loss of friendship or close relationship, police involvement, law suits, etc., etc., etc.

Proper Carrying and Lifting[edit | edit source]

Lift heavy items primarily with your legs. Squat directly in front of the load, pull it in tight to you and lift it with your legs, not your back. Set it back down the same way. If you must turn while carrying the load, then turn your whole body with your legs, don't swivel yourself at the waist. This simple moving tip can help you to avoid severe back injury while moving.

End tip big furniture pieces like sofas and armoires in order for the movers on both ends to get a good grip on the piece. When carrying the piece always be prepared to quickly set it down in case one or the other of the helpers is losing his grip or the piece is just too heavy for him to carry.

Use Teflon furniture glides such as Moving Men cups placed under big appliances and the legs of big furniture pieces in order to slide them around without damaging the floors. If you don’t have any glides then place a pad under the piece with enough hanging out to grip and pull the piece on it so the floor won’t get scratched.

If you can obtain some kind of a long, strong strap like a mover’s humpstrap do so. Then when you are carrying a large furniture piece up or down the stairs you can use it strung under the bottom of the piece to lift it without having to bend over to do so. The person on the top end of the carry uses it to hold the furniture piece so that he can stay upright all through the carry.

Pets, Children and the Elderly[edit | edit source]

Pets, Children and Elderly[edit | edit source]

Pets and small children or the elderly (who are no longer competent) should be present when the move occurs and be sure your moving people are advised that you have pets so that any with allergies can medicate beforehand. Take precautions so that your animals do not escape. Small children and the elderly although useless in many respects; should be allowed to help in their own ways. For example, a small child putting a small box of their own clothing on the moving van.

Elevators[edit | edit source]

Elevator Buildings[edit | edit source]

If you live in a hi-rise building have enough people to get done soon enough to meet your reserved elevator time. Also make sure that another move does not coincide on the same day and time as yours. Some high-rise buildings have loading docks designed to accommodate only one truck at a time. If the move is delayed due to no fault of your own, you may still have to pay the waiting time for the dock.

Parking[edit | edit source]

Parking near your residence should be easily accessible for your truck. Do whatever you can to reserve adequate parking for your moving truck. Reserve spaces with your car, a friend's car, or saw horses. See your alderman or the police department to get no parking signs to save the spaces for the day of your move. Remember the moving van cannot block the street. Also, if your moving people have to walk half a block with your furniture because they could not block a street or an alley then the move will take a lot longer.

Last Minute Issues[edit | edit source]

Last Minute Considerations[edit | edit source]

Get your ladders, hoses, and toolbox. Be absolutely certain that everything has been loaded onto the truck before releasing the moving crew to the next location. It is not wise to leave the originating location early or to be absent from either location for very long since you may have important information not yet communicated to your moving people. If you were to leave, everything may not be done as you had hoped it would be.

Do A Walk-Through[edit | edit source]

After the truck has been loaded with your residence’s contents, everyone should do a walk through to check for missed things. Double-check all cabinets, drawers, closets, pantries, bins, nooks, crannies, stairways, attic, basement, garage, or storage lockers. Make sure you have all hardware to disassembled pieces so that it can easily be located. Look at all inside or outside places where things can be left sitting (including window sills).

Moving Pianos[edit | edit source]

Some unique piano moving techniques have been developed over the last century that ease the difficult job of moving pianos. This section will instruct you in the basics of these professional piano-moving techniques. But even with this knowledge always remember that actually moving your piano carries with it a tremendous amount of responsibility for the piano movers safety and the piano's condition when you're done moving it. So, before proceeding on to these teachings please be sure to review the section on piano moving warnings.

Warnings[edit | edit source]

Piano Moving: Warnings[edit | edit source]

So you want to save money by moving your piano, huh?

If you're going to have to move your piano over 4 low consecutive low steps at any given point in the move path - our first advice to you, the amateur piano mover wannabee is –

Don't do it!

Piano self-moving can be a very difficult and very dangerous endeavor.

This is especially true when traversing more than 4 consecutive low steps because then you have to actually carry the piano, not just tip and lift it! Piano carrying is so dangerous a task that it could lead you right to the undertaker! So instead why don’t you please just pay a qualified professional piano mover to do it for you?

But if you will not be traversing over 4 consecutive low steps in your entire move path and / or if you still want to further investigate how to move your piano yourself, then read on.

First of all, before we will give you our piano moving instruction on how to move a piano traversing over 4 consecutive low steps up or down at any given point in the move path – We will try to completely discourage you from attempting it!!! We feel that it is our responsibility, in consideration of your personal safety, to first make every attempt to warn you of the many difficulties and dangers involved in do it yourself piano moving. We are giving you these warnings because we're certain that you, as amateurs seeking the high calling and the glory of becoming a piano mover (?), do not fully realize the dangers to which you are about to become exposed!.

Consequently, we ask you to carefully and completely read everything on the rest of this page. Please don't skim by any of it! These warnings cover the entire necessary issues of piano moving safety in order for you to make an informed, intelligent decision on this important matter. Then, after being made aware of all of these dangers, if you're still committed to moving your own piano we will then give you plenty of great piano moving tips.

So, we now ask the question - are you absolutely certain that this task would not be better left to those trained to do it, even if they charge you a few hundred dollars? Normally, do it yourself piano moving involves a high degree of risk of injury to the crew and / or damage to the piano / property versus a very small potential for money savings compared to having a professional do it for you. We especially recommend against do-it-yourself piano moving over 4 consecutive low steps in the move path because pianos are heavy and extremely difficult to balance and carry. If you and your helpers are not constantly diligent to use proper technique every step of the way, it's very easy to have any size piano suddenly get away from you with a resulting nightmare moving day catastrophe!

If you don't entirely agree with us about the extent of the risk involved and you search the internet to seek advice from other piano movers, you will find that they'll all concur with us. Why? Just to get you to spend your money on their services? Maybe? To some degree greed might be involved in their advice to you, but we prefer to believe that they (as we) are more interested in people's welfare. All piano movers know from personal experience (as we do), the inherent dangers of piano moving.

Must you really move your piano yourself?[edit | edit source]

Think about it. Are there really circumstances where there is just no other viable choice except that a do-it-yourself piano moving crew must be sought out in order for you to move your piano? Let’s look into some circumstances that entice people into do-it-yourself piano moving situations.

1. We just can't afford to spend hundreds of dollars to move this piano![edit | edit source]

Maybe you can't, but before you leap ahead too fast trying to save your money by moving your piano yourself, add into your plan the terrible possibility of an unexpected severe injury! Can you afford to be off from work and go unpaid for some protracted period of time because during the piano move your back goes out, your knee gets broken, a shoulder socket is permanently disabled, or you break an arm / wrist / hand / finger or a hip / leg / ankle / foot / toe? How about if that severe injury should instead happen to a friend / relative of yours who is helping you move your piano and he is eventually forced by financial pressures to sue you, thus ruining your relationship? Then again, supposing the piano is moved without any personal injury to the movers but in the process its sound board is damaged or a big, long, deep scratch is gouged into its beautiful finish or a caster digs a big divot into your brand new hardwood floor or the deck / porch collapses from the accumulated weight of the piano and the men.

Now, compared to such bleak scenarios as these the few hundred dollars that you would have to pay to a professional piano moving company turns into a very inexpensive, excellent bargain, doesn't it? That is, if you use a qualified piano mover with a good track record who can prove to you that they have full workmen's compensation insurance for their men and full property liability coverage for each residence and for your piano.

2. My friends and I are big strong guys. The piano's not really that big. Look I can lift one end by myself. Sure it's a little heavy, but with three or four of us it shouldn't be that hard to move.[edit | edit source]

You and your illustrious friends might actually be able to move the piano successfully. However, without correct piano moving technique and without a good piano dolly, piano belt and a strong hump strap, you won't! When there are more than four consecutive steps along the move path you'll have to actually carry the piano. Having to actually carry the piano raises the difficulty factor of the piano move considerably! Throughout a piano carry, good balance is necessary and can only be accomplished when the whole crew is working in unison and properly utilizing their piano moving equipment. The part of piano carrying that requires skill and concentration is keeping the piano in balance (not allowing it to wobble much from left-to-right and / or from front-to-back) while actually carrying it up / down steps. Also, sometimes when moving a piano up / down stairs, a banister has been known to fail right in the middle of the move! If the movers are leaning on it at that time catastrophic things can occur!!

In the piano moving trade the person on the bottom holding the main part of the piano and carrying most of the weight is described as the man on "heavy" and he really is! During a piano carry, when a man's positioned on heavy, the blood can almost come out of his eyes. Even with the smallest piano, the weight that can be dumped onto that bottom person is immense! An unbalanced piano means that 350 - 500 lbs. minimum(!) for a small upright piano and 600 -1000 lbs. for a grand piano or a big upright, can all be mostly dumped onto the guy on heavy! This is why mover's backs can go out so easily. Everyone on the crew can be a big strong guy, just like your friends are, but this kind of weight in an unbalanced situation is just humanly impossible for even the strongest man to handle without injury. When the weight gets to be just too much for any member of the team he will just have to let the piano go! Then, goodbye piano - hello injuries to anybody who does not get out of the way!!!

A few more piano moving warnings[edit | edit source]

Four Consecutive Low Steps[edit | edit source]

Piano moving up or down up to 4 consecutive low steps at any given point in the move path can be accomplished by amateurs by simply using our tip and lift or lower piano moving techniques that are much easier than having to actually carry the piano. If, and only if, you and your big, strong friends carefully follow our instructions you should be able to readily move your piano up or down four consecutive low steps or less anywhere in the move path. Carrying a piano over any more steps than that is another story, however.

The important thing to notice in this video is that even though these men make it look easy, the piano is trying to wobble all over the place! Watch it again and look for that! Because they're professional piano movers they know how to keep it steady. Then watch it once again and watch for the wobbling and see how they steady it.

Actually carrying a piano forces the amateur out of the comparatively easy realm of the tip and lift / lower piano moving technique and into the most difficult and dangerous part of piano moving - actually carrying the piano. As you can see watching the video, traversing more than 4 consecutive low steps at any given point in the move path requires complicated piano carrying techniques. With large or small pianos, their extreme weight brings such great danger on a piano carry that we 99% advise against amateurs attempting to do it.

Winding / Circular Stairs[edit | edit source]

If any piano must go up / down winding circular stairs we will not give instruction because in our opinion this situation is just too difficult and dangerous to be attempted by amateurs. Winding / circular stairs require the piano moving services of highly skilled experienced professionals in order to avoid personal injury and / or property damage to the stairs or to the piano. There is just no easy way to move a piano up / down a winding stairway. There is no opportunity for the crew to stop and set the piano down on the steps in the middle of the winding stairway. So, the piano must be carried up / down the winding stairs without stopping which requires exact, precise top level piano moving technique combined with properly-focused brute strength! We highly recommend that only trained professionals move pianos up / down winding circular stairs! Please do not do this kind of piano move yourself!

4-Legged Upright Pianos[edit | edit source]

If your small upright piano has 2 legs in front and also 2 more decorative legs in the back with the case hanging between them, then we again highly recommend that only professionals be used. Untrained people cannot handle this style of piano going up / down more than just 1 step at any given point in the move path without a 99% chance of damaging the piano. The indenting of the piano's lower casing to accommodate the exposure of its decorative rear legs interferes with the normal positioning of a small upright piano on its side on the dolly which is the moving procedure used when traversing more than 1 step. As you can visualize, there is nowhere to place the dolly under this kind of piano's side without the legs of the piano overhanging and dragging the ground. If, during the entire piano move, the piano is only traversing one step at a time then it can be successfully moved on its feet on the dolly. We will train you to move this kind of piano with the dolly under its bottom instead of under its side but this only works with a maximum of one step at any given point anywhere in the move path. If you will encounter 2 or more consecutive steps the piano should instead be handled by a qualified, experienced, professional piano mover. Because of the difficulties inherent in this particular kind of piano's design we highly recommend that amateurs do not attempt to move it if there are 2 or more consecutive steps at any given point in the move path! Instead, please just pay the trained professional!

Big uprights / Player pianos[edit | edit source]

If the piano is a 'big upright' (over 46 inches (1,200 mm) high weighing 500 to 900 pounds (230 to 410 kg)) or if it is a 'big upright' with a player mechanism (increasing the overall weight of the piano by 100 to 200 pounds (45 to 91 kg)), we highly recommend only moving it to / from locations with no more than four consecutive low steps at any given point in the move path. If possible take the player mechanism out of the piano before the move in order to lighten it. 'Big upright' regular and player pianos are extremely heavy and therefore very dangerous to the people doing the piano move. If more than 4 consecutive low steps at any given point in the move path must be traversed then the piano must be carried by the movers and this extreme dead weight is just beyond what any normal person can bear! Any kind of minor out of balance condition can very quickly and easily put people in the hospital and / or completely clobber the piano. In the moving industry upright pianos taller than 46" are referred to as "KILLER UPRIGHTS!" We seriously recommend that big "KILLER UPRIGHTS" only be moved by professional movers, if over four consecutive low steps are going to be encountered at any given point in the move path.

Procedures[edit | edit source]

You should be aware of the weight of the piano being moved before you move it. Most of the weight of any piano comes from its extremely heavy cast iron harp. Small upright pianos only weigh 300 to 400 lb because they have a smaller cast iron harp than big upright pianos. Big uprights run from 600 to 800 lb. Big old player uprights can even hit 1000 lbs. because of the heavy player mechanism. The biggest upright piano height only runs up to 60 inches, topping out in weight at 800–900 lb.

The smallest grand piano starts at 54 inches long which is equivalent to a 54 inch tall upright and weighs about 500–600 lb. Grands can extend out to 108 inches long for a 9' concert grand topping out at 1000–1200 lbs. Liberace's piano was a specially-made, monstrous 12-foot long grand piano weighing over 1500 lbs. He had it custom-made just for him because he knew that the longer the grand piano is the better the bass notes sound during play. Higher piano notes come from straight strings so their length doesn't matter much but bass notes come from wound strings so the longer the piano, the longer the bass string, the better it resonates.

Large grand pianos are quite heavy, even more so than large upright pianos. Grand pianos can weigh anywhere from 500 to 1200 lb. Baby grand pianos are 4 foot 6 inches to 6 foot 6 inches long and they can weigh between 500 and 800 lbs. But longer grand pianos weigh much more and should always be moved by professionals because the piano dollies have about an 800 - 900 lb. weight restriction. In fact, just because of their extreme weight, big uprights over 42 inches high or grand pianos which are 5 1/2 feet long or longer should always be moved by professionals. Pianos smaller than that can be moved by 4 or 5 amateurs with a little bit of training as long as they do not have to traverse over 4 steps in the move path.

PIANO CASTERS[edit | edit source]

Pianos should not be rolled around on their casters. The casters are mainly decorative and not very functional at all. Over time, as the piano sits in one place, the casters tend to deteriorate and jam up and when you go to push the piano on them they can stick in place and then they'll gouge your hardwood floors or tear your carpeting.

Pushing a grand piano around on its leg casters puts pressure on the legs and has been known to cause a leg to break. The same is true for a small upright piano with 2 front decorative legs. Big uprights are so constructed that they can better endure being pushed around a bit on their casters but their casters tend to jam up easily. Therefore, all in all, pushing a piano around on its casters is not a very good idea.

However, if you've checked to see that none of the casters are frozen, a few of you can lift a grand piano up a bit and move it around. Just don't push it on its legs. With a small upright a couple of you can lift its front end up a bit as you push it on its rear casters but only when its weight is not bearing down on the front legs.

4 WHEEL PIANO DOLLY[edit | edit source]

Besides the danger of a jam, casters do not virtually eliminate the weight of the piano as happens when it is mounted up on a 4-wheel piano dolly. So, whenever a 4 wheel piano dolly can be used to transport the piano - muscle power to move it on the part of the crew is reduced to almost nothing because a properly balanced dollied piano is almost weightless and easily overcomes inertia on level surfaces. On inclines or ramps the piano's weight is reduced considerably but what's left is expressed on the low end of the incline. The steeper the incline, the more weight that will be expressed there. Consequently, at least 3 men are needed when moving even a small upright piano because at least 2 men need to be positioned on the heavy side of the incline to handle all of the piano's expressed weight.

Below is a picture of a small upright piano properly mounted on its side on our 4-wheel dolly. Notice that no one is holding it. This is only possible because it's on flat ground and it's balanced correctly on the dolly, so it just sits there as is, without needing a steadying hand or any other support.

Below is a picture of the same piano properly mounted on its feet on the dolly. Again, no one is holding it so it just sits there because it's centered and therefore balanced on the dolly and it's on flat ground. Notice that in this centered position the dolly juts out a bit in front of the piano. This is how the dolly must be placed under the piano in order to balance the lighter weight of its keyboard as well as the heavier weight of its case.


The dolly is to be used as much as possible. It is simply the easiest way to move a piano around (other than the miles covered when the piano is being transported just sitting lashed to the wall of a truck). It can be used to move a piano over level ground or on inclines and ramps or for tipping it up or down to get over a curb or 1 step. The piano dolly also can be used to transport the piano on top of plywood or masonite in order to go over grass, cobblestones, gravel, sand or any other uneven or loose surface. When doing this though always use at least 4 or 5 amateurs to push it because of the inherent instability of this kind of ground.

So, once the number of people needed on your crew has been determined (this is based upon piano size and if any actual piano carrying is to be done which will be further discussed), the first thing they will have to do with an upright piano is to mount it up onto a dolly. As simple a task as this might appear to be to the uninitiated, it is really somewhat involved because you're elevating 400 - 800 lbs. onto an unstable rolling platform that can easily scoot away. So very thorough instruction in dolly mounting techniques will be given.

Below is a picture of a grand piano up on its flat side on a piano skid board centered on a piano dolly.

At first glance it doesn't look like this grand piano is exactly centered on the dolly but it is because its weight is balanced. Remember, the left part of the piano with the keyboard has very little weight compared to the cast iron harp within the rest of the piano's kidney shape. So most of the piano's weight resides from just a little left of the leg brackets to the back end of the piano. If observed with an x-ray vision perspective you'd see that the piano's heavy cast iron harp is centered on the dolly even though the piano's case is not.

Grand pianos have to be broken down (without breaking them of course), by removing their 3 legs and the lyre and mounting them on their long side onto a piano skid board, which is an involved process. But here, we don't want to get too bogged down in our discussion so we suggest you view our 5 minute grand piano moving slideshow presentation on this subject at burrowsmoving.com/resources/piano.swf. Instead, we will here go on to speak in general of all the things that must be done in order to teach you how to move your piano from its origin point to its final destination point.

TIP, LIFT, CHEAT one STEP ONLY[edit | edit source]

The way to move your upright piano over 1 step is that it should be placed on the dolly on its feet because one step can be easily traversed on the dolly by just using a slight tip of the piano up or down as it is being pushed along. So, starting at the place where the piano is now sitting, if there will be no more than one step on the move path going to or from the truck, the piano is to be lifted or tipped up and onto the piano dolly, placing it on its feet (on its bottom) onto the dolly's padded rails as shown previously.

To do this you will use the hump strap to reach under the dolly and lift one end of the piano. This lifting force causes the piano mounted on the dolly to be welded together with the dolly as one unit. In this manner, the piano is lifted over the step (as is shown in the picture below). In the moving industry, this is called doing a little cheat because we cheat gravity out of one step of carrying effort without having to take the piano off of the dolly and carry it over that step and then put it back onto the dolly.

Just using a tip of the piano on its feet on the dolly in the above-shown manner will not work to cheat more than one consecutive step with an upright piano because the bottom edge of the piano (on the low side of the tip) will scrape the ground, potentially chipping it. Mounting the piano on its side and doing this will not work either because a two-step cheat has too much angle for safe piano moving.

Grand pianos are mounted on a piano skidboard on top of the dolly as shown previously and you can also use this little cheat technique for them. But in the case of moving a grand piano, you can sometimes even use it for two steps if the piano skidboard is sticking out in back enough to absorb and protect the grand from all of the back bottom scraping when tipped at that much of an angle.

TIP, LIFT, LOWER TO CHEAT 2 - 4 STEPS ONLY[edit | edit source]

In order to do bigger cheats with an upright piano (up to as many as 4 consecutive low steps or as many as 3 consecutive higher steps at any given point on your move path) a different technique must be utilized. For 2, 3, or 4 step cheats up / down the stairs, the upright piano is first placed on its side on the dolly. Then, with the bottom of the upright facing the steps, it is positioned on the dolly up to and (if possible) over the 1st step. In this position, the 1st step has been automatically cheated by the height of the dolly as the piano's bottom is butted almost up to the side of the 2nd step.

We then finish cheating the other 2 steps by tipping the upright so that its bottom is made to lean against the remaining stairs to be traversed.

Notice that as the tip begins on this 3 step cheat we have so balanced the upright on the first step, so as to not to let the weak decorative leg touch the stair and break it. Then we extricated the dolly from under the bottom side of the piano and placed it between the piano and the stairs to protect the piano's bottom and to expedite the dolly remount at the top of the stairs.

Since this was an older beater upright piano just used for these pictures we did not bother to pad the first step but for any nice piano - even though wood won't normally scratch wood, that should be done to be certain to not damage the piano's bottom edge.

Next, we carefully lift the upright piano up and over the top step keeping the dolly in place.

If we had just one more step to traverse we couldn't push the upright up on the dolly like was done here. Instead, we'd not use the dolly at all but instead just lay it all the way up to the top step. Then using a pad or some cardboard placed as a covering between the piano and the top step to prevent scraping abrasion to the piano's bottom edge or undercarriage, we would tip it up and push it over the top step.

This same process is reversed coming down the stairs. It comes down the steps with its bottom facing the steps just as it went up them. The piano is dollied out to the 2 bottom men and they hold it up until it's out enough to tip it down to the bottom step. Then the dolly is removed and placed on the ground under the piano. It finishes its descent by being tipped right up onto the dolly. Again use a pad or a piece of cardboard as a buffer between the piano and the top step's edge if there are 4 steps.

These cheating techniques are so much easier than having to get under the piano and actually carry it over these few steps.

For grand pianos a cheat can cover as many straight steps as there are. The same technique is used as with the upright piano but instead of the bottom of the piano facing the stairs, the piano skidboard faces the stairs. If the abrasion of the piano skid board is not going to damage the edge of the steps then just slide the grand down the stairs or push it up them.

Once all the steps have been traversed using the cheat and the piano is safely standing on top of the steps, again it must be mounted onto the dolly. For upright pianos, this dolly mount and every dolly mount will depend upon the consideration of the number of consecutive stairs to be further encountered in the remaining move path. If there will be 1 step or less on the move path, put the upright piano up onto the dolly on its feet. If there will be more than 1 step, put the upright piano up onto the dolly on its side. For grand pianos always mount them on the piano skidboard on the dolly.


If there are too many consecutive steps at any given point in the move path these tip and lift - cheat techniques will not work. More than 4 low consecutive steps in the move path automatically dictates to the crew that they must carry the piano.

Notice in the picture below that the first step has been cheated with the dolly and just 3 more steps are well covered by the piano's bottom. The 4th step that it could reach would not be covered enough for a safe cheat and in this case, there is even one more step above that one so this crew will absolutely have to carry this piano in order to traverse all the steps.

Carrying the piano up / down stairs is the most dangerous part of piano moving and this is the reason why we try to convince you to not move your piano yourself. Once the piano is being carried, even if it is only being raised or lowered 1 or 2 steps at a time, it can very easily go out of balance and get away from the crew causing terrible things to happen very, very rapidly resulting in severe injury and / or piano damage. So please pay close attention to that part of the website's instruction about actually carrying the piano. For now we will just stay general in our discussion about how-to-move your piano.

TRUCKING A PIANO[edit | edit source]

Dollying the piano to and lifting or carrying it over steps is repeated as many times as necessary until finally the piano can be dollied up the ramp or be lift gate loaded onto the truck. Then, once on the truck, the upright piano has to be taken off of the dolly and placed on its feet, keyboard side facing into the wall of the truck. A grand piano is taken off of its dolly and placed on its piano skidboard with the top side of the piano facing the truck's wall. Never truck a piano on the dolly because it might break loose and roll around in the truck while it's being driven causing terrible damage.

You place the piano with its keyboard side (padded) facing the wall of the truck so that it if it gets accidentally scraped it only happens to the piano's backside which does no effective damage to the piano's finish. Its front keyboard side is protected from truck wall scraping damage by its pad. You place a grand piano with its padded top facing the wall for the same reason.

The piano needs to be securely double or triple belted to the truck wall and then it can be trucked. Drive it to a position on the street or in a parking lot as close to the destination point as possible. Remember - always first use the truck as much as possible for transport and then use the dolly for what's left of the move path, right to the set down point in the new residence, only cheating or carrying the piano when necessary.


In the picture below the ramp would not reach all the way up to the top of the porch so the movers had to place it one step down from the top and then use a little cheat to get the piano up and over the top step on the dolly. This is an excellent example of conserving human energy because lesser trained piano movers would have given up on using the ramp because it was too short and instead carried this piano up all of the stairs to the porch. These guys did it the easier way up on the dolly using the ramp and a little cheat.

Again let us reiterate, you always want to try to use as little human strength during a piano move as possible as they are doing here. The secret to do-it-yourself piano moving (or any kind of self-moving for that matter) is to have plenty of people on each segment of the move so that you don't get overloaded or rushed to get the job done. You also need to have the right equipment to do the job as easily as possible. Everyone should use the piano moving equipment and good piano moving technique and should be constantly thinking of easier ways to accomplish each moving task with the minimum amount of human exertion. Always try to only make exertions when absolutely necessary because, besides exhausting people of their strength, any exertion, especially strong exertions, can lead to an unwanted injury like a hernia or a back problem. Strong exertions can also lead to damages to the piano!

Once you arrive at the destination and are safely parked, the upright piano is unbelted from the truck wall and remounted on the dolly, again on its feet or on its side depending on the aforementioned 4 consecutive low steps rule. Next, it is dollied and cheated and / or carried (as circumstances dictate) over stairs to its destination point. Then it is dismounted from the dolly, being careful not to nick or chip the piano's bottom edge or the floor, and it is set in place (sometimes into cups for the casters so as not to gouge the floor in the future). Grand pianos of course, need to be fully reassembled before they are set in place. The piano move is now completed!

Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? It can actually occur that way for you and your crew if all of you carefully study all of our instructions and take your time and use our techniques and our piano moving equipment correctly and think! Think! Think! Also again let us remind you, before you proceed please be sure to review our sections on piano moving warnings and piano moving equipment costs.