How to Prepare Furniture When Moving

What You Need to Do Before Moving Furniture

Couple moving sofa together
Couple moving sofa together. PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images

If you're moving house and you decided to move rather than hiring movers or if your movers aren't full service and require that you disassemble furniture before they arrive, make sure you know how to prepare furniture for moving and avoid injuries while doing the heavy lifting.

Know What You Have to Move

Take inventory of the items you have, how much time they will take to disassemble and prepare, and what can be prepared in advance of your move.

  For instance, the beds may not be able to be taken apart before moving day but your office desk could be.

Measure Doorways and Hallways

Before you start moving furniture out of your old home, you need to make sure that everything will fit through all doorways, hallways, elevators or stairwells.  Sometimes you can move furniture without taking it apart, but for large pieces, like sofas or couches, you may need to remove doors before trying to move them.

My rule of thumb is always to keep furniture in one piece if first, it will fit through hallways and doorways, second, if it's not too heavy to lift and move, and third if by keeping it in one piece it won't get damaged during the move.  For instance, I always remove table legs before moving our dining room table as the legs are fragile and I worry that they may break during the move.

Once you know the furniture that needs to be taken apart in order to move it, the next step is to get the right tools and equipment.

Get the Right Tools and Equipment

Select tools you will need to disassemble any legs, table tops, doors or frames. Have plastic sandwich bags (or larger) on hand, along with a permanent marker.  For table tops and table legs or any pieces that are valuable or fragile, make sure you have furniture blankets and packing tape that can be used to wrap and protect these items.

If you're moving, I also recommend renting a dolly along with straps that will help protect your back and ensure you can move the heavier pieces.

Disassemble First

Prepare the furniture pieces that require disassembly first. These will be the most time-consuming, so it's best to do them while you're still feeling energetic.

Remove any parts that can be removed. In particular, table legs, glass tops, shelves or bed frames. Do one piece at a time and save the nuts, bolts, and washers in the plastic bag. Write on the outside which piece it belongs to and which tools are required for reassembly.

How to Make sure Parts Don't Get Lost

Tape the bags to the underside of larger pieces. Make sure you don't secure them to areas that could be damaged when the tape is removed.

If the piece of furniture has lots of parts, number the parts "1 of 5", "2 of 5", etc... Use a small sticker and apply to the underside.

If possible, also secure assembly instruction books that came with the furniture to the underside. If they are too large, pack them in a separate box and mark the box "instruction manuals for furniture".

Pack Anything that Can be Packed

Remove cushions and pillow and place in clear, plastic garbage bags.

Fasten the bags well. Make sure there are no holes. These bags can be used to protect fragile pieces or to fill holes or crevices on the truck.

Wrap the pieces with blankets or bubble wrap and secure with tape or rope. Do not use tape directly on painted or finished surfaces.

Do not clean upholstery or furniture before you move. You'll want to have everything cleaned thoroughly after it's been moved into your new home. Save yourself some extra cleaning costs.

Wrap and Protect Fragile and Valuable Pieces

Use the moving blankets, which you can rent from a moving store or where you rent your moving truck, and wrap it around furniture pieces you don't want to get damaged making sure the piece is covered. Packing tape will keep the blanket secured.

Load Heavy Furniture on the Moving Truck First

If you're moving and have rented a moving truck.

make sure you know how to load the truck.  Sofas or couches, appliances, table tops, dressers, and chests should be loaded first and moved to the back of the truck.  If you've hired movers, they'll take care of loading the truck and ensuring all your furniture arrives in one piece.