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How to Save Space When Packing and Loading a Moving Truck

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If you're moving without the help of a moving company, you probably plan to rent a truck on your own and load it with the help of friends and family. As with anything else during the moving process, it's best to have as much help as you can with the process of packing and unloading the truck on moving day.

Packing and Loading a Moving Truck

There is a certain strategy to placing your items on the truck to ensure their maximum stability and safety while in transit. Also, there are different methods for loading specific items, depending on their size and fragility. If you go into the loading and unloading process not knowing what items to load first and where they should be placed, you'll spend a lot of precious time removing, replacing and rearranging things to make them fit. Loading the truck correctly will save you a lot of time and headaches.

How do you pack a moving truck?

A rental truck is not the steadiest place during a commute. The bigger the truck, the less control you have. If you hit bumps or potholes, your items could go flying around, and if not properly packed, could end up broken or damaged beyond repair. Protect your items as much as you can before loading them in.

  • Stack plates vertically like you would in a dishwasher. This makes it less likely for them to get broken. Add plate dividers for added protection.
  • Wrap large furniture, like couches or upholstered chairs, with blankets to keep them from getting damaged during the trip.
  • Anything made of wood needs foam furniture padding as it prevents scratches during transit as well as the loading and unloading process.
  • Move mattresses inside mattress bags to keep them clean.
  • Tape together any parts that are dissembled, like bed frames and table legs.
  • Hardware, like nuts and bolts, should be taped to corresponding furniture inside of a Ziploc bag.
  • Roll up carpets and area rugs. You can pack longer items inside of the rolled rug -- just add towels to each end, so these items don't fall out.

TIP: Invest in a dolly to move the larger and heavier items in and out of your home as well as moving harnesses to strap items down.

What size moving truck should you rent?

We suggest renting a truck 10 to 15 percent larger than you think you need. In case you misjudge the amount of stuff you have, you'll end up having enough room for everything. The size truck you need will be determined by the number of rooms you have in your house or apartment.

If you try to cram your belongings into a truck that's too small, you can easily break something. If you get a truck that is too large, everything will move around and end up getting damaged.

What order should you load a moving truck?

Once you have your boxes ready, walk through your home and determine the order in which you plan on loading the truck. If you're feeling really ambitious, we recommend sketching out a floor plan for how the truck should be packed.

The best way to load a truck is to start with the larger items first. Have help on hand -- these items are large in size and heavy in weight. These items will go upright on the back wall (closest to the cab) of the truck. As you load these heavier items, balance the weight in the truck by placing them on opposite sides of each other.

  • Large appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, ovens and dishwashers
  • Heavy furniture like mattresses, box springs, sofas or bureaus
  • Smaller furniture like nightstands, bookcases, tables and chairs
  • Longer items like floor lamps or skis

TIP: When getting ready to load your dressers into the truck, remove the drawers so you're only carrying the frame of the dresser. Once the frame is on the truck, you can put the drawers back in and secure shut with rope.

When should you load boxes on the moving truck?

Load boxes last. These items can be placed on any flat surface -- under chairs, on top of dressers and chairs. Your goal is to fill any remaining gaps to save on space and keep those larger items in place.

Stack them by weight -- heaviest to lightest. The smallest and lightest boxes should be the last loaded and placed on top of the moderate-sized boxes to prevent them from being crushed. Any awkward or weirdly shaped items can be placed in atop the pile. While placing the boxes onto the truck, try to distribute weight equally both towards the back and the front of the truck.

What if there's space left in the back of the moving truck?

Stuff the holes! When all is said and done, you'll need to fill the gaps between boxes to prevent shifting. Stuff these areas with non-breakable items like bags of clothes or linens. It will double as extra padding.

Another great way to save space when packing and loading up your moving truck is using possessions as packing boxes. For example, duffel bags and suitcases can carry clothing and non-delicates instead of being thrown in a box. You can even keep clothing and lightweight, non-breakable items inside a bureau when you move it -- just be sure the drawers are securely taped closed to prevent them from sliding out.

Practice safety techniques when packing up and loading

Even with help from a few friends or family members, you can become injured if you ignore safety precautions when loading and unloading your moving truck.

  • Most moving injuries occur from people trying to lift more weight than they can carry or support. When lifting and moving heavy boxes, it's important that you only take what your body can handle. Don't overdo it to expedite the process. You'll only hamper the entire move and put your personal health at risk-- which is much more important than finishing the move a few hours earlier.

  • If you don't lift heavy items with your legs, it can cause injury to back or arms. Never bend at the waist -- bend your knees and drop into a crouching position to lift a heavy item. This way, the full weight of the item is supported by your legs and not your back when you lift it up.

  • Wear appropriate attire when moving. If you're going to be carrying heavy furniture and boxes, you want to wear good, comfortable shoes that will also serve as protection for your feet. Avoid loose, baggy clothing that can get caught on things, trip you up or cause other injuries. You might also want to invest in no-slip gloves.

  • Don't over-pack your boxes. It can be easy to pack too many things into each box, because you're in a rush or want to limit the amount of boxes you'll have to move. However, this won't make your life any easier if your boxes are too heavy to carry. Evenly distribute the weight of your items when packing the boxes.

  • Grab a partner for bigger items. There should be at least two people to carry large sofas and appliances and an additional person supervising to ensure they avoid obstacles and get the items safely out of the house and onto the truck.

Remember...
Using the proper packing materials is the best way to ensure items arrive safe and sound at your new location. You should always exercise extra care and caution when packing your most valuable, fragile and treasured possessions. While making the most of your moving truck can save you money, arriving at your new home with a load of broken belongings can wind up costing more. Be sure not to over pack the truck, cram fragile or delicate items too tightly or stack heavy items on top of lighter items that can become crushed underneath the weight.

Nicole Schurott  Posted by Nicole Schurott on December 3, 2018

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