How to Move Heavy Furniture

Moving heavy furniture isn’t easy. In some cases, it can be downright dangerous.That said, with planning, finesse, and the right equipment.You should be able to take care of MOST of it DIY.

But be warned, there are some things best left to the pros.

Here we’re talking about 800-pound safes, 12-person hot tubs, and grand pianos in tiny 3rd-floor lofts.

But as the saying goes, for nearly everything else…

Before we dive in, here are some alternatives that might help:

“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Create a solid plan before starting

You wouldn’t build a house without a plan, and you shouldn’t move without one either.

Before so much as lifting a nightstand, measure your heaviest items and very large pieces of furniture and the rooms in your new home.

With this vital information, you’ll be able to decide where everything goes before move day.

Sketch a floor plan for each room

On the big day, spend a few minutes familiarizing the crew with your system.

And don’t forget to tape your drawings on the wall just outside each room – it’ll help ensure the furniture ends up exactly where you want it.

Insider’s Tip: Weather permitting, stack boxes on the driveway (or in the garage) until most of the big furniture is inside your new home or apartment. A box-free residence is much easier (and safer) to navigate for movers.

Figure out what needs disassembling

Conventional wisdom says that – TIME IS MONEY

Hence, disassembling furniture should be avoided at all cost by penny-pinching families on the move, right?

Wrong, because in the end if you disassemble you will:

  • Lessen the likelihood of damaging your home and furniture
  • Reduce the chance of injury
  • Minimize overall move time

Everyone knows that bed frames, tables, dresser mirrors, entertainment centers, and home gyms need to be broken down.

But also consider removing sofa legs and refrigerator doors, as well as handles and knobs from cabinets, chests of drawers, and wardrobes.

Protect Furniture With Blankets, Plastic Wrap, or Both

Wrapping items with moving blankets and shrink wrap before carrying them onto the truck is a great way to reduce damage to your furniture and home.

On the downside, pads can make it difficult to get a good grip.

By applying a layer of shrink wrap over them however, you’ll get a snug fit and a tacky surface to hold onto.

Upholstered furniture like sofas, loveseats and large chairs should always be shrink wrapped to prevent tears, but keep in mind that –

Applying shrink wrap (and tape) directly onto a wood surface may permanently damage the finish.

Slide Instead of Dragging or Carrying

Furniture sliders have become all the rage in recent years.

They’re available nearly everywhere, and come in tons of shapes and sizes to fit most applications.

They’re most often used for changing furniture placement within a home, but they’re helpful when moving too.

Did You Know?

You can save a few bucks by making your own sliders from old carpet remnants, plastic container lids, cardboard and rags.

Carry Tall and Bulky Items Up High and Down Low

What do refrigerators, wardrobes, and 4-drawer filing cabinets have in common?

First, they’re tall and heavy pieces.

Second, they should always be moved by two people.

To tackle them safely:

  • Position someone on either side
  • Carefully tip the top over about 45 degrees
  • One person grips and lifts from the upper end
  • The other from the bottom

It seems counterintuitive, but this actually centers the weight of the furniture and makes it more stable while being carried.

This is especially true when going up and down stairs, because the item’s incline will closely match the stairway’s slope.

Just remember to:

  • Secure refrigerator doors with bands or cloth straps (if you haven’t removed them)
  • Make sure filing cabinet drawers are empty and facing up

‘Hook’ L-Shape Items Through Doors and Around Corners

Easy chairs and recliners (see below) are among the most difficult items to move without dinging walls, tearing upholstery and smashing fingers.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

In fact, there’s a simple way to use their awkward shape to your advantage.

3 Easy Steps:

  1. Carry easy chairs and recliners on their sides, with one person at either end
  2. The person carrying the back should go through the door or around the corner first
  3. Once through, he (or she) turns or ‘hooks’ to one side, after which the larger bottom portion will follow naturally with plenty of room to spare

It’s so easy, you might ask yourself… “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Insider’s Tip: When moving recliners with spring-loaded footrests, it may be best to remove the top. It’s often as easy as finding the mounting brackets on the frame and removing a few screws. Then, the top will usually slide right out. Remember to secure the footrest with mover’s bands or twine before moving it.

Get Up Stand Up

Though Bob Marley’s classic, Get Up Stand Up was inspired by pressing social issues, it’s title applies to moving sofas as well.

Sofas and couches fit down most hallways and stairways relatively easily, but getting them through doorways and around corners can be frustrating to say the least.

But yet again there’s an easy solution… Standing them on their ends.

  1. Fold a moving pad into a large square and place it on the floor in front of the door or corner you’re trying to navigate.
  2. With a partner, stand the offending couch on its end so it’s resting on the pad.
  3. Next, position one person on either side.
  4. Last, one person pulls the pad while the other pushes gently from the other side, twisting the back slightly through the opening like with the aforementioned easy chair example.

If the sofa is taller than the door frame, try inclining it slightly. You may gain just enough clearance to get it through.

  • Use the Right Equipment
  • Shoulder (hump) straps
  • Shoulder straps are long durable slings (usually made from nylon) that professional movers use to carry everything from boxes and dressers to refrigerators and washing machines.

They’re especially handy when two people are using the high-low carrying method because they free up the hands and spread the load over the chest, forearms, and shoulders.

They come in handy when moving floppy mattresses and bulky box springs too.

Instead of using the handles (which aren’t designed for carrying), set the strap on the floor underneath each piece when it’s resting vertically, grab the end, and lift with your legs.

With a partner, it’s a piece of cake.

Use Appliance Dollies

Though they’re similar to box dollies, appliance or furniture dollies are stronger, have smaller wheels, and include ratchet straps that secure appliances when they’re being moved.

They’re also great for filing cabinets, wardrobes, and triple dressers, just pad them carefully beforehand to avoid scratches and gouges.

Consider 4-Wheel Dollies

4-wheel dollies are best used for things like hot tubs and safes, as well as other heavy items too big for appliance dollies.

They’re commonly used for moving pianos too, but unless you’re a professional mover with gobs of experience, this can be dangerous.

They need relatively hard and flat surfaces to roll properly, so for outdoor use you’ll have to use thick sheets of plywood if the ground is soft or wet.

Moving Heavy Furniture FAQs

How do you move a heavy dresser?

Heavy dressers can be carried safely using the “high-low” technique, but it’s best to use an appliance dolly if you have one.

First wrap the dresser with moving pads and secure them with tape, rubber bands or stretch wrap.

Then, position the dresser on the moving dolly and secure it to the frame with the built-in ratchet strap.

Always have someone act as a spotter on the low side, and make sure the person supporting the weight (holding the dolly’s handles) is on the high side when on stairs and walk boards.

Who can I hire to move heavy furniture?

If you’ve ever asked yourself if a moving company will move a single piece of furniture, the answer is YES.

Most movers will gladly move one piece of furniture.

However, if you’re moving something to another state you’ll probably pay for between 1,000 and 2,100 pounds, even if the item weighs much less.

Likewise, when moving one item locally you’ll usually pay a 3 or 4-hour minimum (plus travel time and a fuel surcharge) even if the crew moves it in an hour.

Also, on interstate moves you may pay a “bulky item” charge for things like hot tubs, pianos, and riding lawn mowers.

Instead of paying a bundle for an easy job, consider alternatives like MiniMoves and Uship for long-distance moves, and TaskRabbit and Hire-A-Helper for local moves.

Since they specialize in small moves, you may get better service and pay less.

How do you move heavy objects easily?

To move heavy objects without causing injury or damage –

  • Have ample help (two people are usually sufficient)
  • Lift with your legs, and keep your back straight
  • Use dollies whenever possible
  • Make sure the path from your home to the moving truck is clear
  • Be especially careful in doorways, around corners, and when going up and down stairs and walk boards
  • Wear long pants and shirts, close toed shoes and gloves if they won’t prevent you from getting a good grip

What moving supplies do I need to lift heavy furniture?

Before moving heavy furniture you’ll need –

  • Moving pads (blankets)
  • Tape, rubber bands and/or bubble wrap
  • Box, 4-wheel and/or appliance dollies
  • “Sliders” if you’ll be pushing the item across flooring
  • (optional) Lifting straps

How do you move furniture by yourself?

One person should never move heavy furniture alone. In fact, professional movers who’ve hurt themselves on the job will tell you that it just isn’t worth the risk.

To move heavy and bulky household items like dressers, sofas and refrigerators safely, you’ll need the right equipment and at least two people. Acquire a hand truck or a dolly, and refer to our tips in this post.

What to put under heavy furniture to move it?

When sliding furniture across tile, hardwood and Linoleum floors it’s best to put “sliders” like cardboard squares, rags or carpet remnants underneath to prevent damage.

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