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Mover’s Guide to Prepping a Move

We like to go in the day before with a 2 man team and completely prep a home. That means we wrap and disassemble all the furniture and appliances until there is nothing left to do but load it into the moving truck.

This is the guide we give our movers to teach them how we expect homes to be prepped. We also give them a bunch of on the job training, of course.

General prep rules of thumb:

If it can be taken apart, it’s better to take it apart. It will ride better and fit in the truck easier, particularly table legs and couch feet.

If it isn’t furniture, it should be in a box. Yes, that includes lamps, electronics, lawn tools, and paintings.  You can score and re-fold boxes to customize the fit, and fit two boxes together to make one tall box. You can always make a box big enough to fit.

Always remove all shelves and brackets and wrap separately. Tape the hardware up in a ziplock bag and attach to the underside. Otherwise the hardware may get lost, and shelves can become loose and swing around.

Particle board desks and bookshelves will probably break if not disassembled and packed in a box like it came from the store. Particle board is heavy but not particularly strong, so it won’t hold up in a move, especially if tipped on its side or with heavy boxes or other furniture on top.

Prepping Living rooms for moving

I always prep the living room first. I also always move the living room first into the truck on moving day.  Having an empty living room gives you an empty staging location where you can wrap furniture, like dressers or tall bookshelves, if it’s too tight to do it right in the room it came from. Psycholgically, seeing an empty living room in the first 20 minutes gives my movers a sense of completion and a little burst of motivation.

Sleeper sofas

Tie the handle underneath the seat to the sofa securely so that it doesn’t open. Use a couch cover or 4 blankets and plastic wrap to cover all upholstered surfaces. A couch cover is about ten times as fast. Check to make sure the opening of all the doors in the residence that you’ll need to walk through are wide enough. Remove the entry doors if needed. The biggest obstacle is always the screen door that doesn’t open all the way or keeps shutting. It’s easy to take off.

Recliner sofas

Recliner sofas, including the motorized ones, are attached to the metal frame by 5/16ths bolts. I always carry a 5/16ths socket and socket adapter for my drill so I can take these off quickly. One each reclining side is taken off, its light and easy to carry in the house.

Lamps

Remove the lampshade and wrap the base separately with a blanket or padding paper and put in a box. If the box isn’t tall enough, just grab another box and fit it upside down on top. Viola, a tall enough box.

TV Stands

I prefer to take those TV stands all the way apart. I wrap all the pieces separately. It’s usually a 4mm allen wrench, and I carry 4mm allen bits in bulk in my bag and a bit holder so I can use my drill to get them all out quickly. If you don’t want to take it all apart, at least take the glass out and wrap it separately.

Prepping the Dining room for a move

The dining room is usually adjacent or close to the living room, so I usually knock out the dining room next. My theory is to ‘Eat the Frog’, or do all the hardest things first. It’s likely to have tables and chairs, and chairs are usually the ‘chowder’ or the BS in Bases, Boxes, BS., so I’ll need some of that early when I’m packing my truck.

Tables

Always take the legs and leaves off of tables, wrap the pieces individually, and transport everything wrapped up with a blanket. If the screws or bolts stay in the table legs, make sure they are securely wrapped and don’t poke through the blanket. Put the screws in a ziplock bag and tape it securely to the underside of the table. The hardware may get lost if not ziplocked.

If not removed, the table legs can snap off. Think about it for a second, if you’re putting that table in the truck with boxes on top, 8 feet high, that can easily be in the hundreds of pounds even with light boxes. If the legs are the slightest bit loose, they’ll wobble every time you take a turn, and at the very least become looser if not snap off. So I always take the legs off. If the leaves are left inside they can come out.

Chairs

Use a bigger blanket, like a Uhaul blanket, and place the chair diagonally centered on the blankets, kind of like a baby’s diaper. Fold the corners up and over so that the chair legs are completely covered, and then tape or rubber band the blankets on the chair. You can use more than one blanket if needed, but usually a big Uhaul blanket will suffice with normal sized dining room chairs if pulled taut.

China Hutch/cabinet

China hutches are normally two pieces, a top and a bottom. Sometimes there is a metal bracket screwed into the back holding the two pieces together. Unscrew this bracket, and make sure all of the shelves and shelf pegs are taken out. Glass doors can come out and be wrapped and packed separately as well. Lift the top completely of the bottom when lifting it off, otherwise it can scrape the finish on the bottom piece.  Wrap both pieces securely with a blanket and plastic wrap.

Bedrooms

I always do the master bedroom after the living room and dining room. That’s where I’m going to find the biggest furniture, and I want to get a grip on any challenges that await me there first.

Dressers with mirrors.

Always take the dresser and mirror apart, take the brackets or rails holding the mirror on completely off, and wrap in a blanket separately.  Grab a ziplock bag, put the screws in there, and tape it securely to the rails. Otherwise the mirror can break off of the brackets if they are left on.

Beds

If it is an entirely wooden bed, the side rails are usually held on with a double j hook that should just lift straight up. If there are slats screwed into the rails, remove those first. They are usually held on with a philips screw. there also is usually three wooden supports underneath that you should unscrew. If you don’t take these items off and the bed completely apart,  the bed rail and frame combo is inherently unstable, weak, prone to breaking, and much bigger and harder to wrap and move. Take the few minutes to take it completely apart. It’s worth it for keeping the furniture safe and it maximizes your space in the truck. Tape the three supports together, tape the slats together, and wrap the bed rails together with a blanket and then tape them together so that the tape doesn’t mar the finish.

For a headboard, the easiest way to cover it is with a 2 large blankets. Lay them out like a diamond pattern two corners slightly overlapping, and then lay the headboard down on top. Fold the sides in like a diaper and secure with tape and moving wrap, making sure to cover all the wood up.

Bed Frames

If it is a metal bed frame under the mattress, it is usually held on with a hex bolt and nut. Remove the headboard from the frame, and wrap the headboard separately. Take apart and tape the metal bed rail pieces of the frame together. If there are screws or loose legs or casters, put them in a separate bags and tape it to the metal frame. If the frame isn’t taped, it will swing open violently in transit and damage other furniture or walls. Wrap the pieces securely with a blanket and plastic wrap.

Nightstands

Wrap in a blankets and then make sure you have rubber bands or tape holding the drawers shut.

Chest of drawers

Make sure the blanket you wrap it with covers the bottom of the chest, or use two, and secure the drawers with rubber bands or tape, over the blanket of course. It is not recommended to take all the drawers out because there is no easy way to protect them and they are much more difficult to to pack into the truck safely when they are out of the chest.

Computers

Put computers in a 4.5 cube long box with plenty of padding. If you have a spare blanket of the customer’s, wrap in a blanket and then box. We don’t like to use our blankets for wrapping because we tend to lose them that way.

Desks

Solid wooden or metal desks are fairly straightforward to move, particleboard desks are not. If the desk is a clapboard/particleboard desk, we stop the move and inform the customer that our insurance doesn’t cover clapboard furniture and we are not liable for damage. We usually get a written release of liability as well, although it is already in our written exclusions and limitations. The safest way to move a clapboard piece of furniture is to completely disassemble it and box it up flat like it came from the store. Time constraints do not always make this possible. We always try to take as much of it apart as possible and wrap each piece of it separately.

Mattresses

Always cover mattresses in plastic. Keep the sheets on it, sheets are an excellent second layer of protection. Watch the corners and make sure they don’t drag on the floor.  They can easily be scuffed.  For memory foam mattresses, put into a cardboard box if possible. If not, ratchet strap it with 2-3 ratchet straps in half and move it folded. That way it is not as floppy and you have something to grip it with.

Flatscreen TV’s

Make a custom box for flat screen tv’s if the original isn’t available. The mount/base has to come off to fit in the TV box.

Wrapping Beds with headboard and footboard

Disassemble the bed and put two blankets down diagonally, like overlapping double diamonds. Place the headboard on top, and wrap up with the two blankets.

Garage and Misc

Lawn mowers

Take the handle, and if it is partially removable fold it all the way back over the mower. Put it into a box or crate it.

Paintings

Use a 4 part mirror pack or a two part mirror pack, or a long box you cut to fit, to safely move paintings. High value paintings must be crated in a custom padded crate.

Bookshelves

Take all the shelves out and wrap them separately in packs of 3-4 shelves. Take the pegs out and zip lock bag and tape them to the bottom. use the shoulder dolly or a hump strap to move it. if you 45 it (move it at a 45 degree angle), it will likely come apart because of the vertical stress on corners and the cardboard backing. If it is already coming apart, wrap in plastic wrap tightly.

Kitchen

Refrigerator/freezer

Remove the handle and refrigerator doors if needed. Tape or plastic wrap the doors shut and use the shoulder dolly system or an appliance dolly. Like refrigerators, check to make sure the opening of all the doors in the residence that you’ll need to walk through are wide enough. Remove the doors of the residence and of the refrigerator if needed.

Microwaves

Put in a box with padding. You may have to score, cut and re-fold the box so it will fit. Take out the center plate and wrap separately.