Move heavy items like a pro so you don’t damage them, yourself or your home
How to move heavier items like a pro
Whether you’re just rearranging your living room or moving house, shifting furniture can be a big task.
If it’s not done correctly, you can waste a lot of time and energy. Here are a few simple techniques you can use when lugging heavy or awkward items so you don’t wreck your back, your house or the furniture.
1. Hold high and low
Dressers, tallboys, filing cabinets and bookcases are all awkward pieces to handle, so make it a two-person job.
Tip the item sideways at an angle, then one of you hold the top and the other grip the bottom. This centres the weight and prevents the furniture from swinging out of control.
It also makes carrying it up or down stairs easier, as the angle will roughly match the slope of the steps.
2. Curve chairs
A large armchair can be the opposite of easy to move. Take a tip from pro movers and angle it to get around corners.
Turn the chair onto its side and start moving it back-first through the doorway, then curve it around the door frame and slip it all the way through.
Take a tip from pro movers and angle chairs to get around corners
3. Use a ramp and a rope
If you have to move heavy items solo, use 19mm plywood as a makeshift ramp to slide the furniture over a doorstep or a few stairs.
Tie braided rope, such as static climbing rope, around an immovable object like the newel post at the top of the stairs to help you control the speed of descent, and wear gloves to avoid rope burn.
If you have to move heavy items up or down a full staircase, it’s best to hire a dedicated stair-climbing trolley, from $11 for four hours. Many have an in-built strap to keep your treasures safely lashed on.
Use a rope and ramp to move heavier items solo
4. Protect fragile furniture
For safeguarding the items you’re transporting, as well as your house, moving blankets are invaluable.
You can rent them for about $20 for five from removal and transport companies. Or you can buy them, which means you can use them again for other tasks. Try a Pack & Wrap Heavy Duty Large Movers Blanket, about $9, from Officeworks.
To avoid damaging the finish and the edges of furniture, wrap pieces in moving blankets, then secure with shrink wrap, available from hardware stores.
For safeguarding the items you’re transporting, as well as your house, moving blankets are invaluable
5. Stand sofas on end
If you have to manoeuvre a couch down a hallway and through a doorway, it’s generally not possible to carry it horizontally and make the turn into the room.
Before entering the hall, turn the couch on its end and slide it to the door. You’ll then almost always be able to angle it back-first around the door frame and through the door.
If the couch is a bit taller than the door opening, start with the top leaning away from the door to gain up to 100mm of clearance.
Stand sofas on end when moving through a doorway
6. Get on a roll
The problem with using a trolley is that you have to tilt a large, heavy object far enough to put its centre of gravity over the wheels. This can make it difficult to get around corners and through doorways.
A dolly is a small platform with castors mounted under it. On flat surfaces, dollies enable you to move furniture and appliances around in any direction with ease.
Some low-profile systems are barely more than 30mm high, and come with a lever to help you jack up the object to be moved, then slip a mini dolly under each corner.
Use a dolly to make it easier to move furniture
7. Slide it along
Furniture slides are available in lots of different shapes and sizes at hardware stores.
It’s also easy to make your own from plastic container covers, frisbees, moving blankets, towels and carpet remnants. Use soft, padded sliders on hard flooring and hard plastic ones on carpet.
Furniture slides are available in lots of different shapes and sizes at hardware stores
8. Make a mattress sling
Trying to wrestle a heavy, floppy mattress anywhere is hard going.
While many have handles, they’re not meant to be used for carrying. They’re there to help you position the mattress, so they’re not very strong.
An easy way to carry it is to make a rope sling by threading a length of rope through each mattress handle.
Next, slip a 130mm long by 25mm diameter piece of PVC piping over each rope end, then loop and knot the ends to create comfortable grips.
Finally, flip over the mattress so the sling is at the bottom.
Create a simple rope sling to give you and your helper a lot more control
9. Plan where it lands
When you’re moving to a new house, decide beforehand what furniture will go where. Sketch a floorplan with the actual measurements of all the rooms, measure each item of furniture, then design your layout.
This way, as they’re moved in, each item can be positioned in its designated spot and won’t need handling again.
To make it easy on the movers, tape a copy of the plan to the wall of each room so they can tell at a glance where everything goes.
When you’re moving to a new house, decide beforehand what furniture will go where
10. Secure with straps
Moving and lifting straps put less strain on your back as they rely on leverage against your skeleton, which enables you to use large muscle groups to do the heaviest lifting.
They also make it easier to move items with sheer sides that don’t have convenient handholds. Another bonus is they enable you to get tall items through doors without bending down or crouching, or tipping them over.
Use straps that can be adjusted to carry items of various sizes, and take extra care on stairs or a steep slope, as most of the weight can shift to the downhill mover.
Moving and lifting straps put less strain on your back