The Right Moving Supplies for a Smooth Move

packing materials for a move
Keats Myer decided that in order to save money when she moved her family from New Jersey to New Hampshire, she would do as much of the packing herself as she could. And if an item was coming with her, she explains, it wasn't going to break. Her moving supply of choice: bubble wrap.
"I had tons of it," she says. "I packed all my glassware, all my vases and photos. And nothing broke."

Eric Fierst, director of operations for Fry-Wagner Moving and Storage in St. Louis, agrees that bubble wrap does the trick -- although "tons" might be overkill, he says. Professional packers choose moving supplies carefully. The right supplies can save you money, protect your belongings and make packing and unpacking easier.

Fierst offers these tips from the pros for choosing and using moving supplies.

1. Match the packing boxes to the contents

When it comes to moving supplies, cardboard boxes can be your biggest expense. But while you might be tempted to go from store to store asking for empty boxes, Fierst doesn't recommend collecting boxes of all shapes and sizes. "It will take the movers longer to pack the truck, and there will be wasted space. It could end up costing you money."

Movers use standard-size boxes, as well as specialty boxes for items such as mirrors and artwork.

The key, says Fierst, is to use the right box for the right items. "Don't put a shelf of books in a box meant for linens. It will be too heavy to lift." And do make sure that you fill the box. The more items that are loose in a box, the more likely something inside it will break.

Fierst also suggests saving money by asking your moving company for used boxes. Moving boxes have a two- or three-move life expectancy, he says, and movers often offer used boxes at no fee. If you are doing it yourself, you can go online to find local sources for used moving boxes.

2. Stock up on packing paper

The packing supply of choice for professional movers? Paper, paper, and more paper.

After boxes, blank newsprint paper and tissue paper are the most used moving supplies. "Bubble wrap is not the best thing for the environment, and it creates dead space," Fierst points out, which can cause breakage if things are not packed tightly. "When packing fragile items, it's important to have a lot of material around an item; you can do that more easily with paper than with bubble wrap."

If you don't want the Sunday comics on your Waterford vase, keep your newspaper in the recycle bin and invest in a box of blank newsprint.

2. Use the right kind of packing tape

The right kind of tape is important for two reasons: keeping your box closed and making it easy to open.

"I've seen people use duct tape, masking tape and reinforced tape," Fierst says. "They either don't stick, or they are too hard to open. Use old-fashioned packaging tape, the 2-inch wide kind. It's easy to handle, it sticks well, and you'll be able to cut through it when you open your boxes."

3. Get yourself a box cutter

Once you are ready to unpack those boxes, you don't want to break all your nails (or anything within the box) trying to get the tape off. A box cutter, an important unpacking supply, will slice through the packing tape easily. And if you need to break down your boxes for recycling, the box cutter will make that job a lot easier.

4. Don't forget the Sharpie

The Sharpie is a small but mighty packing tool. Unless you want to play "what's inside this box" when you get to your new house, make sure you label your boxes. "You don't need an inventory of every item," says Fierst. "But a general idea, as well as the room you want it to go to, will really help when you unpack that box."

Once you do unpack, what do you do with the debris? "That was my biggest question," says Myer. She couldn't believe the amount of moving supplies and boxes that littered her new home. Her used boxes had already made two previous moves, so she flattened them, packed up the paper, and took them to the recycling area at the town dump. (For additional eco-minded tips see AOL's "Green Moving Guide.")

Other options include asking the movers if they'll come back to pick up the boxes or saving them for the next move. That wasn't an option for Myer. "I don't want to think about another move," she says.


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