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Loading Your Truck: A Guide to Doing It Right

So you're not using a moving company?

One of your biggest challenges of a self-service move or do-it-yourself move will be loading your moving truck in a way that doesn't hurt your stuff -- or your back.

We'll show you how.

Unlike a trained, professional moving company, you are probably loading a truck for the first time, or the first time in a long while.

Whether you hire help or are depending on friends and family for a helping hand, always have enough help so you don't damage your items – or hurt yourself.  And keep in mind that heavier items such as sofas and dresses require a certain number of people to lift and move -- you probably won't have access to the professional moving equipment used by a moving company crew.

First Step
Make sure all moving boxes are fully packed -- full from top to bottom and side to side. If there's empty space in a box, fill it with paper so the boxes don't get crushed if other items are stacked on top of them in the truck. And rent a dolley or two -- sure, it might cost extra, but it will save you much strenuous effort.

To save time and make your move more efficient, have everything you need to load your truck before you begin the actual loading:

  • Sofas should be stretch-wrapped to protect from soiling, or punctures. The same for mattresses and other soft pieces.
  • Have enough padded material to wrap furniture for protection. Wrapping furniture makes it easier to load tightly in the truck. You should always aim to load stuff tightly to prevent items jostling against one another during the move.

Loading It
Be sure you have an obstacle-free route to the moving truck, and try to have a straight shot so you don't have to make many turns.

  • Start by designating one person to remain on the truck while others bring items to be packed. That person will be in charge of making sure everything is loaded tightly.
  • Always start loading at the front of the truck or van (toward the cab) and work your way toward the back. (You're either using a rental truck, or loading the mover's truck in a self-service move.)
  • Stock items from floor to ceiling like you're putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Every space needs to be filled so no items shift during transportation. Boxes should be used as filler for open spaces.
  • Pack the track in tiers, making sure each tier is close to the top of the moving van before starting on the base of the next tier.
  • A good item to pack first is a sofa -- point the legs to the wall, and pack other boxes in the cavity.
  • Put heavy items lower on the truck, with lighter items on top of the heavier ones.
  • It may be necessary to disassemble some things to ensure safe transport, such as removing legs from tables, in order to load the shipment tightly.
  • Sofas and some other pieces may be placed on their ends to achieve a tightly loaded truck, but you will need to be sure to place the items next to items that will not cause damage. For example, a piece with some sort of metal part that extends past the item it is attached to may puncture a sofa or mattress.
  • If for some reason you do not use the entire truck, secure the back of your shipment with loading straps or other materials to keep the load from sliding backward.

You will want to be careful not to scoot or drag items in the truck because you may damage sofa legs, table legs, dresser bottoms, etc.

Your Next Move:

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In the Press

A Moving Company's Moving Story
June, 2012

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