How to Pack for Moving

Article posted by on July 12, 2013

By Bill Adams

Packing for Your Move

What is packing?

The term “packing” in the moving industry refers specifically to putting smaller things into cartons in preparation for a move. If your mover puts something in a carton, there is a cost for the carton and the labor. Furniture, on the other hand, is pad-wrapped when loaded onto the truck, and there should be no additional fees for that.

What needs to be packed?

Anything small enough to fit into a box should be packed. Consider packing any household items that are smaller than the average sized microwave oven. Examples of things that do not need to be packed include vacuum cleaners, folding chairs, garden tools, stepladders, and stools.

Should I pack or have the movers pack?

Ask the movers you are interviewing to prepare a full packing estimate for you, even if you are planning to do your own packing. It is easy for them to do this, and the cost will be shown as a separate line item. You may decide that the cost is well worth it, and it will free you up to do other things. You may decide that it’s too expensive, and you’ll be able to see how much you’ll save by packing yourself. Maybe you just enjoy packing. Either way, you’ll have a list of all the cartons required to pack your home.

The advantages of having movers pack are simple: They do it all in one day (more time needed for larger homes), so you can live your normal life without stacks of cardboard boxes taking up all the space in your home; They are responsible for damage to the contents of the boxes they’ve packed, as long as you’ve selected full value protection; You have a whole lot of extra time on your hands to do other things associated with moving, like selling, donating, and discarding things you no longer want. By getting rid of things you don’t want, you reduce the cost of the move, and you don’t have these unwanted items in your new home. This is especially important if you ask the movers to pack, because they will be packing everything they see.

If you’ve decided to do your own packing, you will have the advantage of making decisions to keep or throw as you go.

How should I pack?

Most movers have pamphlets that offer guidance on how to pack for moving. Here are the basics:

  • Small, medium, and large boxes are needed to pack most things. Packing paper, also known as newsprint, is used to wrap fragile items before placing them into the boxes. Plastic packaging tape is required to seal boxes. Each box should be labeled with your name, the room the box was packed from (or will be delivered to), and the contents for quick reference during unpacking.
  • Use smaller boxes for heavy things like books, paperwork, small hand tools and canned goods. Use large boxes for lightweight items like towels, clothing, toys, and lampshades. When packing lampshades, pack only the shade and the light bulb in that box, wrapped carefully. Use medium sized boxes for everything else including shoes, small kitchen appliances, electronics, pots and pans, etc.
  • Dishpacks (5cf) are double-walled cartons used to pack breakables. These cartons are very sturdy, and hold approximately one full place setting for ten. It is a good idea to start by wadding up some paper and lining the bottom of the box for added cushion. Be sure to wrap individual items with plenty of wrapping paper, or bubble-wrap, before placing them into this box. Place durable breakables like plates at the bottom, stood on edge, and work your way up with the most delicate items at the top. Leave an inch of air space to be filled with a towel or crumpled paper before closing and sealing the top.
  • Wardrobe cartons are extremely useful when packing hanging clothing. Typically, this box is 24” wide and comes with a metal bar, which rests across the top onto which clothes on their hangers are hung. Since many garments are not full length, pillows and other lightweight items can be packed at the bottom.
  • Mirror cartons are essential for packing large mirrors, pictures, paintings, or glass tops. Wrap each item with padded paper before sliding into the box. The standard sized mirror carton is 30” x 40”, or 40” x 60” when using two together in a telescopic fashion. Your mover should crate items that are too large to be packed in this carton.
  • Most professional movers will pack mattresses and box springs for you on the load day. Confirm this with your mover in advance of your load day.

Pack room-by-room. Start with the rooms you don’t use frequently. Finish packing each room before you start packing another room. This way, you’ll see that you are making progress, which can be motivational. Pack one box at a time. Each time you fill a box; use a permanent marker to clearly write your name, the room it was packed from, and the contents. You may choose to write on the top and/or sides of each box. Having the info on the sides will help you to find boxes you’re looking for quicker when they are stacked in your new home. Labels are acceptable, but they can fall off. When packing breakables, be sure to indicate that clearly on the box.

Lastly, if you fall short of a full packing effort, don’t worry – you’re not alone. This situation is common, and professional movers are usually prepared by having a few extra cartons on their trucks on load day to help you finish. Remember that you are obligated to pay for this service on a per-box basis. If you anticipate needing help with packing more than a handful of cartons, call your mover with enough advance notice to schedule time for the additional packing to be done.

Am I covered for damage to items in the boxes I pack?

The short answer is no. Your mover cannot be held liable for damage inside boxes that their movers have not packed. Most people that choose to pack themselves do an acceptable job of wrapping items placed inside, but it is important to understand that if the box arrives at your destination with no clear signs of mishandling, your claim will likely be denied. The only way to assure that you’ll be covered is to have the movers pack, and select full value protection. If you’re planning to do most of your own packing, but have valuable and/or fragile items that you’d like covered, leave them for the movers to pack.

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