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The Biggest Mistake People Make when Shipping Designer, Unique, or Oddly Shaped Furniture

Posted in Moving on Apr 15, 2016, tagged with furniture, shipping mistakes

Moving or shipping old, inexpensive furniture can be as simple as wrapping it in a few moving blankets and loading it onto the truck. But if you're shipping designer, unique, or oddly shaped furniture, the biggest mistake you can make is to not packing your piece properly.

How to pack designer, unique, and oddly-shaped furniture

Having made a substantial investment in designer furniture, you want to do everything possible to protect it when it comes time to move. Simply wrapping your investment in moving blankets and leaving the rest to your shipping company won't make the cut when it comes to protecting your furniture. Preventing damage to your designer, unique, or oddly-shaped furniture always requires careful packaging and loading. No matter how careful the truck driver is, sudden stops, jerky accelerations, and quick lane changes are almost inevitable. Any of these movements can cause the load to shift. Oddly-shaped furniture, which may be top heavy, is especially vulnerable to shifting.

Packing materials

Before you start packaging your odd-shaped piece, collect your packing materials.

Another common misconception when shipping valuable furniture is that you can use the same packing supplies you'd use for inexpensive pieces. Not so! Protecting furniture of exceptional value or oddly-shaped items requires exceptional packaging materials. Items you may need include:

1. Heavy-duty box sealing tape

The best option is a 3-inch/72mm wide tape over 2.0 mls in thickness, with a heavy-duty adhesive. This tape can be used for whatever wrapping, bundling and sealing requirements your item requires.

2. Ergonomic tape dispenser

If you're packing oddly-shaped furniture, you’ll probably be using the tape in awkward positions, so make sure you are comfortable with the tape dispenser. Many pistol-grip tape dispensers have poor balance and are difficult to unwind, making them difficult to use on anything other than straight box sealing applications.

3. Surface protection materials

To protect the finish of your wood or metal furniture, don’t let it come in direct contact with moving blankets, corrugated materials, cardboard or paper (such as mover’s newsprint). All of these products are abrasive. The best surface protection materials are flexible polyethylene and polypropylene foams, which are available in most hardware stores. Thicker foams (1/8 inch and up) will provide some cushioning protection as well.

4. Cushioning materials

Polyethylene and polypropylene flexible foams in 1/8-inch to 3/8-inch thicknesses have been used extensively for cushioning in the furniture manufacturing business for years. These products have extremely good cushioning properties, and are more resilient than bubble packaging—if one of those big bubbles breaks, you no longer have any cushioning protection in that spot. Flexible foams are also easy to wrap around any shaped object, and can be cut with a utility knife or purchased in rolls pre-perforated at 6-inch or 12-inch intervals.

5. Crating, blocking and bracing

For valuable pieces, a properly blocked and braced crate provides the ultimate in protection, and is well worth the time and trouble. There are a number of packaging options to consider:

  • Heavy-duty bin boxes are available in several standard sizes, sometimes attached to a wood or corrugated pallet.
  • If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can construct crating out of wood or corrugated “build-up” material (strips of corrugated layered together, like a 2-by-4).
  • Corrugated build-ups, or rigid blocks of polyethylene foam, can also be cut into pieces for interior packaging to block and brace (stabilize) the crated furniture item.
  • "Foam-in-place” is also a good option—two liquid chemicals that combine in a dispenser gun are squirted into the crate around the item, and expand and set into a hard foam. The materials and dispensing equipment are available from rental stores.

6. Strapping and stretch wrap

Once your furniture is wrapped and crated, you'll need polypropylene strapping and buckles or stretch wrap to the item to prevent drawers from opening, keep the wrapping materials in place, and secure the crate closure. Stretch wrap, available in most hardware stores, has the added advantage of providing another layer of dust protection.

Dissassembling your furniture

Once you've acquired the necessary packing materials, disassemble any parts you can. This includes things like casters, chair legs, drawer knobs, removable shelves, etc.

Disassembly accomplishes several things:

  • Eliminates protrusions, which will help keep the item snug in transit and reduce the chance of damage to protruding parts.
  • Enables you to package disassembled parts more securely and easily, as well as package the main piece more easily.
  • Makes transport in and out of the home— and in and out of the truck— easier and safer.

Moving designer, unique, or oddly-shaped furniture

Getting your designer furniture out of your home, into the truck, out of the truck and into your new home are all events where you furniture is particularly susceptible to damage. Take these steps to make sure everything moves smoothly:

  • Measure the outer dimensions of all items to determine maximum height and width.
  • Measure all hallways and doorways to make sure items will pass through.
  • If necessary, remove doors from hinges to widen the passage. With designer furniture, avoid playing it close—when in doubt, give yourself more room.
  • Clear hallways of any furniture, lamps, nightlights, wall hangings, picture hooks.
  • Avoid slips by removing rugs from all pathways.
  • Put down protective paper on wood floors to protect the finish. Make sure the paper is extra heavy and not slippery. Some papers are available with a light adhesive coating.

Hiring a professional shipping company to move your valuable furniture

The best thing you can do to safeguard your designer, unique, or oddly-shaped furniture is to make sure it's handled by experienced professionals. Moving these items requires finesse and expertise, especially through narrow hallways and doorways. A drop could not only seriously damage the furniture item, but it could also damage your property—or worse, cause a severe injury. No matter how much insurance you have, letting amateurs handle your fine furniture is not worth the risk.

Insuring your furniture

Speaking of insurance, make sure your homeowner’s coverage is appropriate. If you are not sure, check with your insurance agent to review your policy. The moving company you select should also document its insurance and liability coverage—something you will definitely want to review before signing a contract.


TSI is an expert in shipping unique furniture—we’ve been doing it successfully for years. Please contact us to discuss your move and learn more about our white glove service, ideal for valuable and hard-to-move furniture.