Packing Heavy Items for Moving – A Helpful Guide

Heavy household items are difficult to handle when moving and they can present some significant risks to those who are packing and carrying them. You will want to consider these helpful guidelines to help prevent injury and to ensure the good condition of the goods themselves.

The Right Packing Materials

It is important to use the appropriate packing materials – strong boxes of the proper size — and thicker, heavier wrapping material – bubble wrap, foam padding or moving blankets.

Your Boxes

You’ll need to use durable cardboard or double-walled moving boxes that can withstand heavier weight. If you are packing heavy fragile items, consider using plastic or wood crates. Place sheets of crumpled paper or pieces of bubble wrap on the inside bottom of each box for added security.

When packing heavy items, small boxes (1.5 cubic feet) are better than large ones. (Large boxes are better for holding lighter items.) The rule of thumb is that each box should not weigh more than 50 pounds. Some boxes, such as a wardrobe box or those holding electronics, may be heavier.

Thick Wrapping Materials

Crunched up paper isn’t enough when cushioning heavy items in a box. It will compress flat under their weight and won’t provide the proper protection. However, unprinted newsprint can be helpful when packing small parts of heavy household items. Use it as a first layer before using heavier wrap. Large size bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, packing peanuts or foam padding should be used to protect heavy household items.

Packing Tape

Use high quality, heavy-duty packing tape, which is thicker, can hold greater weight and will reinforce the boxes and keep wrappings in place.

Packing Books

Books are heavy! You can fit about 24 average size hardcover books into a small box and it will weigh about 38 pounds. Tape the bottoms of your book boxes. Put your largest, heaviest books in first, packing the books FLAT, or with their spines DOWN. Never pack books with their spines facing you as that can damage the bindings seriously. Don’t overfill the box. Fill the gaps with crushed unprinted newsprint and tape the box closed securely. Don’t be stingy with the tape!

Packing Heavy Kitchen Items

Tape the bottoms of your boxes with strong packing tape. Arrange canned goods and glass jars on the bottom. Wrap each glass kitchen item in packing paper to avoid possible breakage. Cans should be unwrapped and neatly arranged with minimal space between them. Fill the gaps with crumpled paper. Place a few sheets of packing paper on top of the first row and pack the second row with lighter kitchen items. You can pack silverware pieces as the second row after rolling a handful of utensils into several pieces of packing paper. Lastly, pack light items such as spice jars and hand towels as the top layer with several sheets of packing paper overall.

Packing Heavy Clothing

Winter clothes, especially outerwear, can be very heavy and can fill a box quickly. Special wardrobe moving boxes are best. You can hang heavy winter clothes keeping them dust- and wrinkle-free during the move. You can also use the bottom of a wardrobe moving box to pack boots and winter shoes.

You can also pack heavy clothes in wheeled suitcases. Use vacuum bags to save packing space.  Remember, no more than 50 lbs in each wardrobe moving box or suitcase!

Packing Heavy Furniture

Disassemble furniture as appropriate so they can be transported more easily. Take apart beds, cabinets, bookshelves, and tables to their main components and pack or wrap the components together. Protect fragile parts or sections with soft packing paper (unprinted newsprint) and then with bubble wrap to create protective layers. Do not place bubble wrap directly onto furniture to prevent possible damage to delicate surfaces. Consider using thick cardboard pieces over delicate elements for added protection. Wrap all disassembled pieces with thick furniture blankets and cover all remaining furniture pieces with protective blankets as well.  Tape the blankets to keep them from unwrapping. Do not allow packing tape to stick to the surface of your furniture to avoid stains.

Packing Heavy Appliances

You may decide to move large appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, or stoves. These heavy appliances need special attention.

Be sure electric appliances are unplugged from power outlets before protecting them for the move. Defrost the refrigerator or freezer at least 48 hours before moving day. Remove all elements that can be removed safely – shelves, drawers, or racks – and pack the detached parts separately in packing paper, bubble wrap, and moving blankets.

Use shrink wrap or twine to secure the doors of your heavy appliances to keep them from opening during the move. Wrap heavy appliances completely in thick furniture blankets to prevent damage. Tape the covers to secure them.

More Tips

If you have more space left at the top of a box when you have reached your weight limit, cut the box down to size to create a better fit. Slice the vertical edges of the box, fold down the sides, overlap them, and seal tightly to create a smaller container. Before filling, flip the box upside down to create a multi-layered bottom that can withstand more weight.

If you have a fragile item that needs more protection, pack it properly, seal the box, and place it in another larger box. Put some cardboard or other padding material between the two boxes or wrap the smaller box in bubble wrap first. Then seal the larger box with packing tape.

Label all your heavy boxes with their contents and in large letters: HANDLE WITH CARE – HEAVY! This alerts the movers to be careful when carrying, loading and unloading these cartons. Don’t forget to mark all boxes containing fragile items: FRAGILE and THIS SIDE UP!

Following these guidelines will help to ensure a safe and secure move for all your household items. If you have questions about packing for a move, call Ayer Moving and Storage at 800-233-6683 or 978-772-2558 and be sure to download our Ayer Moving and Storage packing guide.