Movehacks: Keeping Paper as Safe as Possible

Posted in: I'm a Mover, Movehacks, Pro Packing Guides

[Synopsis: Checking out some do’s and don’t’s for packing posters and other large paper items.]

So an unusual scenario…

I’m packing up this guy’s desk…that kind with the tall top and glass doors over the shelves. I get all his books and little picture frames and random knick-knacks packed neatly into cartons, and then I see this little tube-shaped thing on one of those shelves. It’s a piece of ancient-looking parchment rolled up and tied with a fancy red white and blue ribbon.

What am I supposed to do with this?

I placed it in one of the empty desk drawers. “Good idea”, said the customer who I didn’t know was standing behind me. “I was wondering what to do with that.”

The thing was only about eight inches long, so I could have easily found a place for it inside a box somewhere. But the contents of boxes shift in transit and that could crush something like a little roll of ancient parchment. And if the contents don’t shift that means that box is packed pretty tightly – which could also mean trouble for that ribbon-tied sheet of antiquity. I didn’t want to take any chances.

It ended up rolling around a bit in that empty drawer, but still, that seemed the safest place for it.

The More Common Scenario


Customers will have all kinds of posters, maps, calendars and other random assorted wall hangings. Some may be either treasures monetary or sentimental, while others unremarkable. Either way, we want to take care of them. Here’s what to do and what to avoid.

– When rolling up any kind of paper, start with a wide circle and slowly coax it into a tighter coil. Trying to roll a poster up small-and-tight right off the bat will bend and crease it.

Roll up several posters, maps etc. together. This saves space while adding strength.

– Put sheets of packing paper between these vintage movie posters and replica maps of the Old World, whether or not the customer shows an outward concern for them. (That tattered poster of Kramer from Seinfeld, on the other hand…okay take care of that too.)

Do not apply tape to the customer’s posters and maps directly. Wrap them in packing paper – even if that packing paper doesn’t cover the entire poster – and tape that packing paper to itself.

– Resist the temptation to strand these rolled up items in a wardrobe or in cartons. That bottom end will likely end up irreversibly (though perhaps only slightly) crushed. 

So where to put them?

In drawers of course!

Empty drawers work well, since there’s nothing to put pressure on them; Rolled-up posters are free to roll around without getting hurt. Then there are the dresser drawers that will remain filled with clothes throughout the move. Posters can go in these too, as long as we make sure to either roll up several posters together (if the customer has a few), or make sure there is plenty of room on top of those clothes so the poster doesn’t get caught and crushed (and ripped and torn) when the drawer is opened or closed.

Me? I prefer going that first route, taking those posters all rolled up together in one strong tube and tucking it gently up against the front inside wall of the drawer, under just enough clothing to keep it in place. If need be, take some clothes out and stick them in another drawer.

If all this sounds a little over-the-top, just remember: it may be just a poster, but the customer is keeping it for a reason. And if they balk at the idea of putting it in a drawer there are always cardboard tubes available at almost any office supply store, self-storage facility or online shop like ULine, UHaul or Staples.

One last idea to consider…

Instead of rolling them up, keep those posters and maps flat and slip them into mirror cartons, between the picture frames and mirrors you are packing. Just use a little caution with this technique: this might work, but only if those posters and maps are no bigger than the frames that are supposed to be protecting them. Even if they fit within the dimensions of that picture frame or mirror, unless they are pressed firmly between two flat surfaces chances are good they will slip in transit.

If you want some extra visuals, I suggest checking out this short instructional video as a tutorial on getting those posters all rolled up safely and neatly and getting them into cardboard tubes.


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