by Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
There's something about a tall bundle of boxes and rolls of packing tape that is rejuvenating—here is your excuse to sort through all your stuff and meticulously wrap your prized possessions, so when you arrive at your new residence and start unpacking the boxes it will feel just like your birthday when you were a kid. Fantasize for a moment that is how the whole sequence of events truly develops, and you're not running through the home like a loon mixing heirloom china in with the bowling balls, make sure you've got the correct packing supplies for your moving project.
Boxes and tape are some of the most critical equipment for packing, and all boxes and tape are NOT similar in quality. It is alright to put random coffee mugs in an old microwave box and store it on the top shelf of the pantry, but to pack, stack, and move that box, it will breakdown like a house of cards and you will end up with lots broken crockery.
If you are packing yourself, conduct some research into the materials prior to getting started. If you're employing a moving company to do the actual moving, they will most likely have the best heavy-duty boxes, tape, and wrapping stuff you'll want to use. If not, storage facilities, big box stores, and the internet are acceptable places to obtain your supplies, but since you can't do tactile research over the internet, don't count on reviews to help you—everyone packs differently and "sturdy" and "solid" are very subjective words.
Look for boxes that are corrugated--a layer of wavy fiber between the inner and outer layers of heavy cardboard. The corrugation helps with structure and strength, so when you stack them on the truck they don't collapse. There are varying degrees of toughness within the corrugated realm, so you can purchase the box strength you require for a given item--go with the sturdiest boxes for the most delicate and the bulkiest things you'll pack.
While you are purchasing boxes, be sure and buy some of the small ones--heavy belongings go in small boxes, bulky lighter items go in the bigger boxes. For instance, books are relatively heavy and should be put in a small box. Throws and throw pillows are comparatively lightweight and can be placed in the bigger ones.
Purchasing bargain, low quality tape is where lots of DIY movers get frustrated. If it is low-quality, it will not stick well. Worse, it will stick to itself when is comes out of the gun and tear in small little slivers and then you have to pick at it for quite a while and aim to get it to unstick in a single piece. Splurge on a decent-quality tape gun or two with a padded handle—you'll be pleased you did when you're eighty boxes in with a lot more to go. It's also a brilliant idea to get your tape in bulk--it costs less and you can generally return what you don't use.
There are lots of alternatives for padding around the inside of the boxes. Old towels and linens are magic when you need something lining the box, like when you're packing shoes and don't want them crashing around.
Newsprint is definitely the best alternative for almost everything--from swaddling mugs (thread a twisted end through the handle and stick the rest inside once it is wrapped) to books to small appliances.
Bubble wrap can get costly, but purchase the good stuff anyway, since those are the items that you will use it for. The bubble size differs, but a good rule of thumb is for your bubble size to pair the item size—use the big bubbles for lining around the entire box. Touch the wrap before you purchase it, and see how strong it is when you push and pull it. If it's weak or does not like the bubbles hold, go with another brand.
If you have not moved for a while, and you go hunting for boxes, be ready to be astonished at the options you have. If your parents moved, they got their tape and boxes and had the entre neighborhood retaining newspapers for weeks. Today, there are lots of specialty moving supplies you'll find in the stores—a few are really worth the extra money, some are not—it's up to you to discern what's going to work best for you. Just remember, be sure you are buying decent quality--you don't need your mattresses in cheap plastic sheeting.
- Dish packs are strong boxes meant for dishes. They may have pieces of corrugated paper to keep between the pieces so you don't have to wrap individually.
- Glass packs are like the dish boxes, except they contain the lightweight cardboard insert that separates the glass.
- Wardrobe boxes are also heavy, tall, and include a bar for hanging clothes.
- Specialty boxes for mirrors and TVs are shallow and large.
Now that you have your smalls under control, focus on how you are going to move the heavy things out the door--the furniture, the lawn mower, the grill--but do not fear, help is on the way. In order to move some of these things renting equipment is the best course of action.
Your furniture is more delicate than you might realize--surface dents and scrapes are super common when items come off the truck. You can negate this damage with some simple protection; again, make sure you are getting good quality materials that hold up to a lot of wear and tear.
- Moving blankets are crucial. You can purchase or rent them. Most moving companies and storage facilities can rent or sell them to you. Remember that while buying is inexpensive, renting could be the best choice. The ones you purchase are usually a thin fabric with padding and are okay for some things, but if you're moving wood furniture of a lot of value you will want to go with a heavy cotton pad with more batting in between the layers, which are usually rented (you could get them and return them with the truck). If you anticipate that you need ten, rent twenty—this is especially true if you decide to buy the lower quality ones--double wrap.
- Shrink wrap that comes on a big, double handled roll holds the pads in place on the big pieces, and secures just about anything. Look for an almost opaque plastic that is going to hold up against boxes and corners--get the most puncture-proof plastic you are able to find.
- Foam padding is excellent for corners, you should plan on buying a roll of heavy foam, just be careful that it is high density and will not rip easily.
The last things you'll want to have are for the really heavy and bulky things. Unless you happen to have these already, it would be best.
- The best hand trucks are the heavy-duty ones that are appliance weight, and have straps to tighten down the thing you're moving. They also tip backward, to provide you better leverage against the weight of the davenport or washer or whatever you have strapped on.
- Dollies are flat pallets on rollers that really only work if there aren't any stairs in the moving path. They're good for smaller dressers or anything that's heavy and flat on the bottom; make sure the one you rent is carpeted on the slats.
- Body straps help you to evenly distribute the weight of super heavy items on your body. They are typically utilized in pairs as to takes two people to move the big things, especially down stairs. If you rent these, be sure the straps and buckles are easy to use, and not frayed or broken.
No matter how you're actually transporting your household, your local moving company will be able to assist you with all of the materials you will require to move. Just remember that you are putting your entire life in these boxes, so be positive that your moving materials are acceptable to handle the task.