Nobody likes packing. However, using the proper materials and procedures can minimize stress and make the process much easier. If you're handling all of the packing and wrapping tasks for your move, read on for the 10 most important materials you'll need to ensure your items arrive at your new home unscathed and intact.
TIP: By spending the extra money on the best materials, you will give your goods the best protection possible when they are transported to your new home. Although it could be tempting to go with inexpensive or used moving supplies, using these products can lead to damage.
- Boxes (of various sizes): Possibly the most important packing supplies -- sturdy, high-quality cardboard containers -- are essential for transporting your belongings. The safest option is to purchase new boxes from a packing materials retailer. However, if you opt for free boxes, make sure they are in good condition to withstand the weight of your goods. It's also helpful to reinforce the seams with tape.
You will need boxes on a variety of sizes for different belongings. Heavier items, such as books, you should go in smaller boxes to maintain a manageable weight for carrying (and to prevent the box from collapsing).
TIP: Your goods could fall through the bottom of used boxes, or they could get crushed when stacked on top of each other.
- Packing paper: Packing paper or unprinted newsprint is the most versatile of packing supplies you will need for your move. It can be used to wrap and protect almost anything from damage -- plates, glassware, knick knacks, electronics and even furniture items.
Packing paper is also useful as stuffing to fill empty space in your boxes. This will keep your items stationary during transit and prevent damage from jostling during the move.
TIP: Avoid printed newspaper as the ink can leave behind unsightly stains and smudges on some surfaces that can be difficult to remove.
- Shrink wrap: Clear plastic stretch wrap has a variety of uses. It can be used to shield items from dirt and debris, to hold furniture wrapping (blankets/pads) or other protective covering securely in place or to bundle boxes or containers together to make moving large loads quicker and easier.
TIP: There are some surfaces that should not come in direct contact with shrink wrap. Delicate wood finish, leather or upholstery can be damaged if the plastic melts in high temperatures or traps condensation from humidity.
- Bubble wrap: Essential for your delicate china and fragile glass items, bubble wrap is a packing material that protects your most breakable items with cushioning air bubbles. For the environmentally conscious, there are green varieties of bubble wrap available that dissolve in warm water after use.
TIP: Like shrink wrap, never directly wrap glass, artwork or wood with bubble wrap. The plastic can trap condensation, and the air pockets can leave behind impressions.
- Scissors/box cutter: When it's time to tear open those boxes and get unpacking, you'll want a sharp pair of scissors or a box cutter to ease the process and keep your hands from growing weary. Be careful when handling sharp tools and always cut away from you, not towards you.
- Packing tape: A roll of heavy-duty packing tape is imperative to keep your boxes securely sealed during your move. Taping the bottoms of your boxes can help prevent items from falling through, especially if the boxes are used.
TIP: Tape is a very important packing supply. If you use cheap or old tape, it might break or lose its adhesiveness.
- Markers/labels: Labeling your boxes with the contents, room, and other important instructions (such as "Fragile" or "This Side Up") is imperative to maintain proper organization and prevent damage during your move. You could also opt to color code your move.
TIP: While you may have a couple of markers lying around, they might dry out or run out of ink. With new markers, you can be sure that your labels will be clear and legible. By getting at least two, you'll have an extra marker on hand in case the other gets lost.
- Furniture pads/blankets: Shield your furniture items from dirt, debris and sharp edges with protective furniture pads. Purchased from any moving supply retailer (and provided by most moving companies if you are using one), your furniture should be completely covered and the pad should be secured tightly with packing tape. You can also use paper pads or sheets of cardboard to protect your furniture.
TIP: Old blankets or towels might not provide enough cushioning, and they could get easily ripped. That's why you should get professional moving blankets. These thick, padded blankets are made specifically for moving, so they can stand up to the wear and tear involved in the process.
- Mattress covers: Your mattress is a bulky, cumbersome item that can take some struggle to haul out of your home. To protect it from unsightly smudges or tears when passing through tight spaces (or hitting the floor), place it inside a plastic mattress cover or a mattress box. Your movers should be able to provide you with these materials (be sure to ask about costs in advance) or you can purchase them from a supply retailer for a DIY move.
- Specialty boxes: Some items require special containers for packing to ensure they arrive in your new intact and without damage.
- Clothing: Wardrobe boxes come equipped with a rod inside to hang your garments and keep them from becoming wrinkled or crushed (especially useful for things like leather and fur).
- Glassware: Cell boxes are a must-have for your delicate wine glasses and other glassware-thin cardboard dividers separate each piece and keep them from banging together and scratching or shattering during transit. You can also make your own cell box.
- Mirrors/artwork: Mirror boxes are large, flat cartons used to transport items such as mirrors, pictures and artwork.
- Mattresses: Mattress cartons protect your bed during the difficult task of hauling it out of your home.
- Glass table tops: A glass-topped coffee table or dining room table is both heavy and delicate. After removing the large sheet of glass from the rest of the table, it should be carefully wrapped inside a large, flat telescoping box for protection.