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How to Pack and Ship Large Items

Posted in Shipping on Mar 02, 2016, tagged with furniture, household goods

Large, bulky items are not easy to ship, but knowing all the facts on how to prepare large items for long distance shipping makes the process much easier. That means knowing all of the details of your shipment, researching a qualified shipping company, properly packing your item, and arranging your shipment.

Large items include but are not limited to:

  • Couches
  • Armoires
  • China cabinets
  • Buffets
  • Pianos

How exactly do I ship large furniture?

You should know every last detail about the item you are shipping before you call shipping companies for a quote. Have the following information ready: because the moving company is going to ask.

  1. ZIP codes for pickup and delivery
  2. The dimensions of your furniture – length, width and height
  3. Any information you'll need to purchase shipping insurance, such as the value of your item

There are a few other things you should also be aware of when speaking with a moving company, such as:

  • Narrow stairways
  • Back roads that a moving truck may not be able to turn around in
  • Low bridges that a moving truck may not fit under
  • High traffic streets that a moving truck may not be allowed to pull over and unload during specific times of the day

Movers will charge extra for what they feel is an inconvenience or something that will make moving your item more difficult. Ask your mover about any possible extra charges.

Shipping methods

When you ship a small amount of furniture, rather than a whole house-load, it will most likely ship with a LTL freight company via consolidated freight. LTL stands for “less than truckload”, which means your furniture will share a space on a truck with other shipments heading in the same direction, and may be transferred to other trucks along the way. Shipping through LTL freight can help keep your shipping costs as low as possible, but it also means it's extremely important that you pack and ship your items properly.

How to pack large items for shipping

Most large items cannot be boxed, which means they either need to be blanket-wrapped or crated for shipping. Both of these methods will require you to disassemble your bulky items as much as possible. This includes:

  • Removing the legs off of the dining room table and pianos (if possible)
  • Removing the glass from china cabinets
  • Removing the pendulum from a grandfather clock
  • Removing all items from cabinets and drawers
  • Removing the shelving and base from large furniture items
  • Removing all hardware, such as knobs and drawer pulls. Place any hardware in a labelled plastic bag and attach it to the side of the furniture. 
PACKING TIP: Do not remove drawers if they help the furniture with stability.

After your large item has been disassembled, you can start gathering materials for wrapping and protecting your large item, including:

  • Shrink wrap
  • Moving blankets
  • Furniture pads
  • Packing tape
  • Heavy cardboard

Each component you removed from your large item should be wrapped individually and labelled, then attached to the bulkiest piece of your shipmjent if possible. 

How to ship a couch

  1. Place throw pillows in the center of the couch and wrap the couch in a layer of sheets.
  2. Cover the couch with the moving blankets.
  3. Seal blankets with a layer of shrink wrap. Be careful not to pull the shrink wrap too tight that it smashes the corners of the couch. Also, keep in mind the legs on the couch—shrink wrap can damage the finish, so you should remove them if you can, or make sure they are protected with moving blankets. 

How to ship a dining room table and chairs

  1. After the legs are removed (if they are removable), wrap the table with a moving blanket. Use two blankets for extra support. Tape the moving blankets in place and make sure the sticky part of the tape doesn’t adhere to the top of the table. If you are moving a glass table, invest in furniture pads and place them between the two moving blankets for even more protection.
  2. Wrap the table’s legs separately and secure them to the bottom of the table during transit. Label the legs as part of the table top to ensure the legs arrive with the table top.
  3. Wrap each of the chairs the same way you wrapped the table, using moving blankets and tape. 

How to ship an armoire

  1. Remove everything from inside of the armoire, including shelves that are not permanently attached and any cabinet doors. Keep all of the hardware together and tape it to the inside of the armoire. If the cabinet doors or drawers cannot be removed, do not tape them shut—this could ruin the finish.
  2. Wrap the armoire in moving blankets. Secure the blankets in place with packing tape.
  3. Wrap the armoire in shrink wrap to prevent drawers and doors from opening in transit. 

How to ship a piano

Pianos are heavy and extremely difficult to move—they should always be handled by professionals. When you're shopping for a shipping company, ask each company you contact how many pianos they move each year, and look at customer reviews before you book.


Large, bulky items are just that—large and bulky—making them extremely hard to package and move. Shipping them with a reputable moving company is the best way to keep them safe in transit.