From nicks in that fresh paint job to broken chair legs and sofas stuck in stairwells, there are lots of things that can go awry during a move. Thankfully, with some thoughtful preventive measures (and lots of padding), it is possible to get from old house to new with all your belongings in one piece — and hopefully with no dings in those freshly painted walls either.
1. Declutter first. It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: If you don’t want to keep it, you shouldn’t bother moving it. Preparing for a move is an ideal time to declutter, so take advantage and let go of items you no longer love or use. The less stuff you have to move, the quicker it will be to pack and unpack, and the less your move will cost. In addition, when the total amount of stuff to move isn’t quite so overwhelming, you’re a lot less likely to revert to the “just dump everything in a box!” mentality that seems to afflict just about everyone in the final hours before the movers arrive.
2. Measure large furniture, door openings and stairwells. Your furniture may have fit into your current home without a hitch, but that doesn’t mean it will be as easy to move into the new place. Among the moves of my immediate family and close friends alone, I have seen sofas get jammed in stairwells (twice) and a much-loved cabinet left behind because it simply wouldn’t fit through the door. Don’t let that be you.
3. Use corner protectors on mirrors and art. Fragile mirrors and picture frames need to be treated with care. Ideally, use a mirror- or picture-packing kit that comes with foam corner protectors, and follow the instructions that come with your kit. Once you have the corners secured, place the mirror or frame in a mirror or picture box and fill any empty space with paper. If you have a lot of artwork, framed photographs and other delicate items, it’s a good idea to start packing up your collection early so you can take your time and do it right.
4. Completely cover furniture with pads or moving blankets. It may seem like something that’s OK to skimp on, but covering your furniture well can make the difference between your treasured pieces arriving in perfect condition … and arriving scuffed, torn or otherwise damaged. You can also purchase rolls of plastic wrapping material, but pads and blankets offer more protection for extra-delicate and upholstered items.
5. Detach small parts and store them together. Life in a moving van is rough on your belongings. Items knock into each other, and the first things to sustain damage are usually the little bits. Whenever you are able to safely remove the legs, handles or small protruding parts of a piece of furniture, do so. Wrap up the parts and keep them together in a labeled bag inside or taped to the furniture it came from.
6. Use the right box for the job. The heavier the item, the smaller the box is a good rule of thumb to follow when packing. A large box filled with heavy items is likely to either fall apart or injure the person carrying it, and boxes left too empty can leave their contents vulnerable to breakage. Choose the right box for the item you’re packing, and fill in the empty space with paper or packing peanuts.
7. Protect floors and stairs with nonslip runners. There will be a lot of foot traffic in your home on moving day. Protect your floors and prevent slips and falls by rolling out nonslip runners in high-traffic areas. Your moving company may have reusable nonslip runners, or you may purchase nonslip self-adhesive plastic floor coverings to protect your floors in key areas. If you have a large area of flooring that you would like to protect (such as wall-to-wall light-colored carpeting) a self-adhesive plastic floor covering is probably your best bet.
8. Protect door frames with padding. Even the most careful movers will sometimes bump into a tight door frame when passing through with a large piece of furniture. Covering the door frame at the main entrance is a smart preventive measure. Some movers come equipped with doorjamb protectors, or you can rent or purchase your own in advance. These covers contain flexible spring clamps that attach to the door easily without causing damage.
9. Leave specialty items to a specialist. Planning to move a piano, hot tub, appliances or another large or heavy item? Be sure you discuss the specifics with your movers in advance, as they will probably need to bring special equipment and allow extra time to handle it. And although it should probably go without saying, do not attempt to move a piano on your own.
10. Be sure there’s a clear, close spot to park the moving van. Not only will this help avoid long-carry fees, having a clear space to park the moving van means less of a chance for accidental damage to occur on the way in and out. A sturdy ramp placed on a level surface is important for safe moving — both for the movers and your belongings.