How to Pack Like the Pros

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How to Pack Like the Pros

by Jaime Derringer of Design Milk, Posted Sep 16th 2010 8:43AM on

The smartest way to pack a box and other must-read moving tips.

I’ve moved many times, sometimes using professional movers and other times with a little help from my friends (bribing them with pizza works wonders). I love using the pros because it exponentially simplifies one of the more stressful events in life. The cost, however, can be tough to justify.

Ready to start anew? Be sure your stuff makes the trip safely.

The problem is, whenever I pack my own boxes, something always breaks in the move. The last time that I moved, I wondered: How would the pros do it? So I went looking for some answers, and it turns out that it’s not only how you pack but what you’re packing with.
Invest in the right packing materials.

Frank Sinopoli of Ranger Moving Systems suggests purchasing a lot of small cardboard boxes rather than a few big ones. “Many people will get the biggest box they can find and put all of their stuff in it,” he says. “They don’t think about the person who is going to have to carry the carton. If you’re going to pack a box, don’t expect someone else to move it if you can’t move it.” I’m guilty on this one.

There are also specialty boxes that Frank suggests considering. First, china cartons, which are thicker, reinforced corrugated cardboard boxes, help protect your fragile items. Also, wardrobe boxes are a great investment because they are basically portable closets. These boxes have a rod for hanging items so your clothes never have to leave their hangers. If you’ve ever had to pack hangers before or unpack bags full of wrinkled clothing then you know what a lifesaver these boxes can be.

You can also purchase mirror and picture boxes, lamp boxes and even mattress bags to protect your bed from the inside of that dirty moving truck or the elements (if you’re strapping it to your car’s roof).

Don’t forget the packing paper!

When it comes to protecting your breakables, Frank recommends going with packing paper rather than bubble wrap. Packing paper, which you can purchase at a moving truck rental facility, is a thin protective paper that when crumpled “becomes springy and soft and absorbs the impact,” Frank explains. He uses this paper on all of the valuables he packs, from dishware to vases to figurines. Frank said that you can use newspaper in place of packing paper as an alternative, but warns that black newsprint tends to rub off on items, as well as your hands, so it can be a bit messy.

How to pack a box

When it comes to actually packing your boxes, there is a tried-and-tested method employed by movers that you can also use. Frank explains that you should always pack the heaviest stuff on the bottom, which makes your box sturdy.

There is a proper way to pack moving boxes.

When Frank’s team starts packing a box, they first take a bunch of packing paper, scrunch it up and throw it in the bottom of the box to create a base. It’s a shock absorber in case the truck hits a bump or pothole on the way to your new home.

Next, wrap your valuables using the packing paper. If you’re wrapping glassware, Frank suggests creating a layer of paper around the stem. This will even out the width of the glass, making it sturdier. For figurines, he recommends wrapping the body so that the packing paper is taking the weight, not the figurine.

When it comes to dishes, Frank creates one solid bundle. To do so, lay paper on a table, then place a dish on top. Next, fold the paper over the dish, placing another dish on that and repeat for each plate. Finish it off by wrapping the entire stack together. Then, place it in your box as one solid piece.

So how many items go into a box? Space usage is one of the most problematic packing issues. Frank calls it “balloon packing,” or packing a few items in a box and closing it up. There’s a better way, he says. “Try to get as many items in the carton as you can because you want it to be a strong, sturdy carton. If that carton is sturdy, it will protect the things inside as well as those that are loaded on top of it.” If you can’t fit more items in your box but it still has holes, place crumpled packing paper into those crevices to protect the surrounding items. You can also pack soft goods with fragile items.

A final tip that Frank stresses to all of his movers: “Don’t look for a fragile sticker on the box. Assume that the box is fragile, and you move it as such.”