Can Movers Help You With Other Stuff Besides Moving?

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If you thought moving companies do nothing but put all your stuff on a big truck, you’d be right—if you were living sometime in the distant past.

Today’s moving companies are constantly expanding their range of services and offering them all à la carte. That half-job or heavy lifting you need help with? Sure, you can try begging and bribing your friends, or you can call up a few movers in your area. You might be surprised at what they can help you with.

So What Else, Exactly, Can Movers Help With?

More than you can probably imagine. Heck, you don’t even need to be moving to have them give you a hand! More and more, people are turning to moving companies for all kinds of tasks too big to tackle alone. Movers make great day laborers, for things like:

Clearing out your garage or basement

  • Having a couple of sets of hands to move stuff while you figure out whether it goes to the curb or your cousin’s house or back into the garage can save you an entire weekend (if your garage looks anything like mine)
  • This also applies to attics, sheds, or anywhere

Hauling individual furniture from Point A to Point B

  • From your house to the curb; from your bedroom to the basement; to that cousin’s house; to the municipal trash dump; to your local secondhand store or consignment shop

Moving everything out of the room you are repainting or remodeling 

  • And then moving it back when you are done

Hauling stuff to your home from the furniture store

  • Or from your second cousin’s house, or from the garage of the guy selling that big beautiful piano on craigslist

Movers can (and often will) also take care of those jobs tangential to a move:

Even if you’ve managed to tackle your entire move on your own, you may be left with a mountain of unwanted cardboard boxes and unusable packing paper that you just don’t want to deal with. Movers, however, see gold in those mountains. So try giving them a call.

Protip: Most movers tend to charge for a minimum of two hours of labor, due to scheduling their business hours. This is not by any means a hard and fast rule, but make sure you ask before you book your help.

Can I hire movers to JUST help me load and unload my U-Haul?

You betcha!

Renting a truck or a moving container and hiring moving labor for all the heavy lifting is a huge trend—and for good reason. You save a ton of money by renting your own truck, and you save your back by hiring movers.

À la carte movers often:

  • Bring all the equipment
  • Have all the knowledge necessary to do the job right
  • Pack stuff you need packed, wrap stuff you need to be wrapped
  • Load it all up safely and securely

You drive your U-Haul (or Penske or Budget), or have your portable container delivered, and a fresh crew of movers unloads everything at your new home. This is what we call a Hybrid Move. As far as moving goes, it’s the best of both worlds. And it’s what HireAHelper movers do best.

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Protip: If you are moving locally, your movers may be able to rent you moving blankets for a small fee. But if you are moving out of the area, you might be able to rent them from your rental truck company. You may, however, have to buy them. Just please don’t move without them!

Can my movers do my entire move?

Yes, of course. Your traditional Full Service moving company will handle the whole moving enchilada if that is what you want, including packing up your entire home, right down to your last box of biscuits. This is the easiest way to move. It is also by far the most expensive.

Movers Know Best

Of course, we can’t tell you what’s best for you. But we can say with total confidence that movers know how to best handle your stuff. Whether it’s a single item job or a few pieces of heavy furniture; whether you’re moving one room or one door down or one hundred miles away; whether you need loading help, unloading help, or both, hiring moving labor is the best and most economical way to make sure your belongings are taken care of.

If you’re not sure what to do, that’s cool. Calling a mover and asking a few questions costs nothing. And it could end up saving you a lot.


Illustrations by Rob Wadleigh

A Pro’s Guide to Moving Heavy Furniture Without Hurting Yourself

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Chances are, there are movers near you who can help you move that fridge, bed, or whatever else makes your back ache by the mere thought of picking it up. But if you can’t find the right help, or if you and your back feel up to the task, then keep reading—we’ve got you covered!

The First Step to Moving Heavy Furniture

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Okay, that’s a little weird, but moving heavy furniture is the same idea. You gotta really, really prepare.

Before you roll up your sleeves and start picking stuff up, you’ll want to do a few things:

  • Clear as wide of a pathway as you can
  • Measure that your furniture isn’t too big to go through that path
  • Mark a clear, physical end point where you will drop the item

The last one will probably be near your moving truck or storage container or, if you’re particularly strategic, a staging area (meaning your driveway, sidewalk, or the garage during sketchy weather) in order to better “Tetris” your stuff.

Disassembling Furniture

The great news is that many movers across the country will offer to disassemble any furniture that might need it in order to be moved. All you have to do is ask if your local mover offers the service.

If you’re disassembling furniture all yourself, there are plenty of basics to know when taking off table legs, moving desks, or detaching a flat screen tv.

The Most Important Basics When it Comes to Disassembly

  • When removing table legs, immediately reattach whatever nuts and bolts were holding the leg in place after the leg is off. This keeps screws from disappearing 
  • Always use a screwdriver with a magnetic head when unscrewing flat screen tv mounts, as losing important screws is extremely easy to do
  • Dresser mirrors always get removed and properly packed up. Any undetachable dresser mirrors require tons of special attention to move
  • Dining room chairs aren’t often designed to be taken apart easily, if at all. But if you have chairs with exposed bolts or screws, you may be able to disassemble them

The above just scratches the surface of what professional movers with experience know about moving furniture and disassembling furniture. You’ll learn plenty, just like I did, by trying to do it yourself.

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“The IKEA-Exception”

The furniture in your home didn’t just grow there, right? It had to have been carried in.

But the one exception to the “furniture doesn’t grow there” concept is IKEA-like furniture, or in other words, most anything you had to assemble yourself.

Full Service moving companies will generally refuse to move customer-assembled furniture made of pressboard. This is because such furniture was designed to be assembled, put in place, and never ever moved again. Any customer requesting their pressboard bookcase (or pressboard anything) be professionally moved usually has to sign a waiver stating they understand it will very likely get destroyed and the movers will assume zero responsibility for the destruction.

If you have any pressboard furniture or any furniture that – be honest with yourself – is generally cheap and flimsy, consider selling it or giving it away. Moving it costs time and money and will more than likely turn it into an unusable piece (or pieces) of trash.

Wrapping Furniture

how to move heavy furniture

At some point during the move-out process, you’ll need to wrap your furniture so it doesn’t get scratched, gouged and cracked into oblivion.

Cloth furniture pads (also known as “moving blankets”) are what movers use, and we highly recommend them. Wrapping your furniture before you carry it through your home and out the door can help protect it against incidental dings in the doorway and, quite possibly, holes in your walls.

No true professional mover will ever dream of transporting heavy furniture without furniture pads.

Protip: Moving pads can make it hard to keep a firm grip on your furniture. I always preferred to wrap everything in the staging area, or right there on the truck.

The Most Important Basics When it Comes to Wrapping Furniture

Wrapping a refrigerator or a bookcase is pretty straightforward. Wrapping a non-rectangular item like a sofa or a chair can be a challenge.

  • The key is to secure your furniture pads neatly and tightly, covering every surface except, in general, the bottom side
  • You mostly need to just make sure the pads don’t come off. Some movers use shipping tape to keep their pads in place, while others use shrink wrap. Both are effective but costly (not to mention a little wasteful). That’s why other movers use big rubber bands called “mover’s bands”. They are versatile and reusable for applications far beyond moving furniture (like, say, wrapping an office chair)
  • To secure those pads, whether you use tape, shrink wrap or those big rubber bands, just remember: avoid putting tape or shrink wrap directly on your furniture’s surfaces

How Many Furniture Pads Do I Need?

For reference, furniture pads the pros use measure 72” x 80”, give or take.

End tables, small bookcases, and dining room chairs usually only need one (1) pad; most furniture needs two (2), while things like sofas, really large dressers, even some big headboards need three (3) apiece.

How many furniture pads do you need, then? Your best bet is to go from room to room, check how many things you have that need to be wrapped, note how many pads each item will require to cover their surface, then tally it all up. (To be safe, you might want to tack on a half dozen more!)

How Do Pros Move Furniture Through Doorways?

how to move heavy furniture

Angling

If your sofa is too wide to fit through a doorway in your home, there are a few things you can do.

The simplest is to tilt it 45 degrees (more or less) so the front edge of the seat cushions and the top of the back of the couch are aligned vertically. This will make the bottom rear edge of the couch look like it is sticking further out, but all you geometry lovers out there will appreciate how this actually makes the couch narrower.

Curling

If your couch is still too wide, try standing it on end and curling it through.

Laying down a blanket first will help you smoothly and safely slide your couch through the doorway. Ease the top back edge through first, then curl the sofa around the side of the doorway closer to the seat cushions as you slip the rest of the couch through. (You can also push it through seat cushion edge first.) This same strategy can be used when trying to get oversized easy chairs through a seemingly too-narrow door.

Detaching

If you find you need a few extra inches of clearance before your sofa will pop through that doorway, try removing the legs or feet.

Even though they are sometimes nothing but short squares of wood, I’ve found on many occasions that taking them off is the difference between success and a damaged door jamb. On occasion, I’ve had to actually remove a door from its hinges in order to get a couch out the door. While not difficult, you will need a flat head screwdriver and a hammer to coax those hinge pins out, and a couple of extra sets of hands to keep the door in place until those pins pop free.

Moving Furniture Up and Down Stairs

how to move heavy furniture

Hauling large pieces of furniture – more importantly, heavy pieces of furniture – down a flight of stairs is a dangerous proposition if you don’t take it slow (and smart).

  • Make sure you have a strong friend (if not two) on the lower end as you go down (or up) the stairs. Take those steps one at a time. Rest as often as need be, simply by laying that dresser or bookcase down, right on the stairs. Just make sure it doesn’t start sliding!
  • Watch for walls, banisters, and hanging light fixtures
  • It’s easy when you’re watching your feet to forget about everything else. And that, I can tell you, includes your knuckles!
  • When sliding items around corners on landings, use a blanket underneath
    • When doing so, put a blanket down to make the sliding process easier and to avoid damaging that dresser and/or the floor. If the floor is carpeted, the item is really heavy, or if the surface it is resting on is uneven, try walking that thing forward – using small, slow, easy steps

Using Wheels to Move Your Furniture

how to move heavy furniture

If you aren’t The Hulk, a little extra help in the form of wheels can make a huge difference. Here are what the pros use:

  1. 4-wheeler: A 4-wheeler is great for moving large, heavy items over long flat distances. Two main things to watch for: your piece of furniture is resting firm and balanced, and that the wheels, usually black rubber, aren’t marking or scuffing your floors.
  2. Hand truck: A hand truck has two wheels and a metal plate on which to rest your furniture, and a long upright surface with handles. Their soft-ish wheels let you move heavy items up and down stairs and across uneven surfaces all by yourself. However, we highly recommend having a second set of hands at the lower (bottom) end of that piece of furniture any time you are negotiating stairs.
  3. Appliance dolly: An appliance dolly is basically a heavy-duty hand truck with a strap to secure in place the refrigerator, washing machine, dryer or whatever. Despite its name, an appliance dolly can absolutely be used to haul furniture.

This All Seems Hard. Are There Furniture Movers Near Me, Just In Case?

Most likely, yes!

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Start by searching HireAHelper’s massive network of local movers to find movers near you to tackle the big stuff. You don’t necessarily need to hire an entire moving crew if you just need to move your heaviest items.

Normal moving rates will apply, usually starting at a couple hundred bucks for two experienced professionals for two hours. They will usually bring all the necessary equipment, too!

If you just aren’t sure you want to move heavy furniture yourself, relax. Professionals know how to do everything in this article, plus way more.


Illustrations by Marlowe Dobbe

The Furniture Dolly: How To Move Heavy Furniture

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How do you move large pieces of furniture? It’s a question we hear all the time. It’s a daunting prospect, having to haul heavy, bulky items like dressers, bookcases and entertainment units from your house to your moving vehicle. 

Fortunately, there are several ways to do it safely.

The Furniture Dolly

At first glance, a furniture dolly is not very impressive. It’s just a rectangle on wheels. Barely six inches tall. No handles. No straps. Most likely made of wood and sporting a curious inability to roll straight when given a push.

But don’t let its modest appearance fool you. A furniture dolly can help you move just about anything you can put on it, making it your best back-saving friend when it comes time to move.

Is It Safe to Put Furniture on a Furniture Dolly?

You bet! A good quality furniture dolly can handle upwards of a thousand pounds – more than most people need, and certainly, more than most people can lift. (No matter how many friends they’ve gotten to come help.) Even a less-expensive dolly can handle a few hundred pounds. Just be sure to check the specs before you bring it home and put it to work.

Can a Furniture Dolly Move Tall Things Like Bookcases or Long Sofas?

The simplicity of a furniture dolly makes it versatile enough for items of just about every shape and size, and is great for hauling stacks of boxes too! Long chest of drawers? Tall china hutch? Bulky, heavy armoire? That little 4-wheeler (as many movers call it) can handle it all and then some, allowing you to move your stuff over long distances with minimal effort and strain.

How Much Is a Furniture Dolly?

Want one to own? A furniture dolly usually costs somewhere between $20-40, varying slightly depending on how many hundreds of pounds they can hold. (Usually starting around 800 pounds.)

Just need to rent one? If you’re renting a moving truck, often times rental truck companies offer furniture dollies for about $7.

Department stores like Home Depot tend to have them for around the same $7-10 mark. Or if you’re hiring movers, they usually provide tools such as furniture dollies free of charge that they themselves use to move your stuff.

Is a Furniture Dolly Easy to Use?

It’s totally safe and simple to utilize … but only if you know how to use it. Make sense? Cool! Here’s how to use a furniture dolly.

The Basics of How to Load 

Putting a piece of furniture on a furniture dolly is just that: putting it on. Carefully lift a piece of furniture up and place it to where the furniture dolly is located on the center-most flat surface of the furniture. 

But it’s more complicated than just that.

Sure, some items can sit on a dolly the same way they sit on the floor. As long as there’s a flat bottom surface that can support the weight of the item there’s no need to lower it onto its side or tip it onto its back or turn it completely on its head.

But other times, you’ll need to load the furniture a different way. Here are the most important things to know.

  • Map out your exit route to where you are loading it. This is a major mistake waiting to happen. If you aren’t going to be able to angle that long dresser into a hallway, there’s no sense in sitting it horizontally. Likewise, if your armoire just barely clears the top of the doorway, you probably won’t get it through on a dolly. 
  • Safely figure out which side of that piece of furniture you’ll put downside. This is what the pros follow: sit tall items like bookcases and armoires on their sides, and long items like dressers upside down. If it has legs or a hollow underside, it won’t rest properly sitting upright. Yes, you’ll have to turn it sideways or even upside down. And before you lay it on its back, understand that the back sides of many pieces of furniture are not fashioned to support a tremendous amount of weight, so use your best judgment.
  • Empty out armoires and bookcases before attempting to load them. A chest of drawers can be moved without being emptied, assuming there’s nothing inside except clothing. Emptying and taking out drawers will make it noticeably lighter and more manageable, so always weigh your options. (Ha.)
  • Secure any doors and drawers that might fall or slide open. This can easily be done with large mover’s rubber bands or lengths of string that tied tightly. Some people choose to wrap their furniture with pads before moving them and this will absolutely keep those doors and drawers closed, but keep in mind that while essential, furniture pads can make it more difficult to maintain a firm hold if you have to carry it up or down a flight of stairs!

How To Load Your Long Piece On End

This is probably the most precarious way to both load and transport a piece of furniture on a dolly because, well, physics.

But like I said, in narrow spaces and tight corners it sometimes is the only way. Here we’ll go through it in a two-person scenario because we don’t encourage loading a piece like this on your own.

 

  • Position your dolly on the floor close to (but not up against) the side of your dresser (or long piece). Tell your friend to attentively stand by.
  • Lift the side of your dresser opposite your furniture dolly until the side of your furniture facing down touches the dolly. (Make sure you clear the item from the wall and any other potential obstruction!)
  • Raise your dresser onto the dolly while your friend holds the dolly in place until it’s in a vertical position, keeping a firm hold to prevent tipping or rolling awry. Don’t be afraid to lower the dresser back down, taking its weight off the dolly to let your friend adjust the dolly’s position. You absolutely want to ensure the dresser ends up sitting balanced and square on the dolly. (You may have to try a few times.)
  • We recommend two sets of hands for rolling it across the floor and down the hall. The person in front steers and watches for obstacles while the person in the back pushes (gently). Both of you need to constantly be on guard to make sure the item doesn’t begin to tip ever so slightly.

Protip: If the top of your dresser has a lip or overhang that extends beyond the surface of the side resting on your dolly, allow that lip to hang over the edge of the dolly so that dresser sits flat and vertical.

Loading Your Tall Piece on Its Side

The basics here are the same as in loading it on end, although the geometry and the dynamics make it possible to handle this type of situation on your own. (Still, we believe four hands are always better than two.)

  • Position your dolly on the floor near the face-down side of the piece.
  • Working from the same side of the piece as your dolly, pull the top of the piece toward you. Lower it slowly, eyeing your dolly and nudging it into a place where your piece will be balanced once it is resting fully on the dolly.
  • Maintain control by keeping that dolly in place with your foot. This part gets trickier the taller your piece is, so take care to keep both your piece and yourself steady. As in the previous example, your dolly may begin to kick out as the weight of your piece comes down on it, so if at all possible, have someone lend you their hands.
  • Lay flat and push! Assuming your piece is sitting square and balanced on the dolly, pushing it across the floor should be a relative piece of cake. Just take care taking those corners since those top and bottom ends are now sticking way out in front and back of the dolly.

Protip: Your furniture has legs? When tipping heavy pieces of furniture with legs, be very aware of the weight of your object. The longer and slimmer the legs, the better chance they will snap under the weight. Whenever possible, grab a friend or two to help keep the weight off those legs as you lower the piece down onto your dolly.

Loading Your Sofa

This may be the easiest situation to handle or it may be a disaster in the making. It depends on what lies under your sofa’s skin.

  • If the backside of your couch has a solid surface beneath the upholstery, all you need to do is center your dolly behind your couch and tip your couch on its back and you are rolling!
  • If your sofa has a frame that leaves a lot of hollow area under the upholstery, you may have to work quite a bit harder to get your dolly in a place where it will support that sofa without tearing through anything.
  • Hollow? A piece of plywood or another flat source of support placed on top of your dolly can compensate for what your sofa lacks. A few flattened moving boxes may lend enough support for the job, as will a couple of two-by-fours that, when laid crossways on your dolly, will support your sofa from the top edge to the bottom.

Protip: This same strategy of using plywood, cardboard or a couple of pieces of scrap lumber to create a wide, flat surface is also useful when stacking boxes on your dolly! Or when moving odd-shaped items like exercise machines and pieces of art.

Things to Watch Out For

Once you’ve rolled that dresser or sofa safely out the door, down the driveway and up to the truck, you may think that all is well. But pushing that piece of furniture up the ramp and onto the back of the truck comes with its own hazards.

  • Keep one eye on the ceiling so you don’t destroy any overhead light fixtures or smoke alarms. Also be on the lookout for anything potentially high up on the walls, like smoke alarms or fuse boxes.
  • Unless your front door (or any door) swings 180 degrees, the edge is going to be sticking out, leaving a clearance of however wide your furniture is minus one-half inch.
  • Take care not to crush your knuckles against those door jambs! (It hurts, trust me.)
  • You also need to keep an eye on the floor. A throw rug, the uneven spaces between floor tiles, even something as small and unassuming as a Lego can stop your dolly … while whatever is sitting on top of it keeps moving forward.
  • Coaxing your furniture up a ramp is not wise or easy. Any item sitting low and long can stretch beyond what the angle between the driveway and the ramp will allow, scraping up the ramp while the wheels of the dolly are still on the ground. You might do well to turn your dolly ninety degrees so you can push that piece of furniture (carefully!) sideways up the ramp. (Make sure the side with the drawers and doors is facing upward!)

 

Protip: It should be obvious that furniture dollies are not at all useful anywhere there are stairs involved. It may be tempting to be creative, but believe me, 4-wheelers and staircases do not mix. Grab a friend, or a few, and carry that piece of furniture slowly and carefully.

Does This All Seem Like a Lot of Work?

I’ve been moving furniture for decades, and trust me, some people just shouldn’t be moving their own furniture. At the end of the day, it’s hard work, and professionals are professional for a reason. With that said, if you’re going to do it yourself, you need to make sure you do all the stuff above so you don’t hurt yourself (not to mention your valuables).

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Even if you only need to get movers to move your heaviest stuff, it may be totally worth it to just check to see who is around you and what they charge to help. It may be a lot more affordable than you think.

And don’t worry, they’ll bring the furniture dolly.


Illustrations by Marlowe Dobbe
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