Moving is almost always a daunting endeavor and even more so if you have fragile, delicate or otherwise easily breakable items to transport. Knowing how to pack these items and what belongings require more protection will help take some of the hassle out of your move. In this entry, we will go over the ins and outs of packing fragile items whether you are moving out of state, out of the country or just around the corner.

The Preemptive Strike

Before you begin packing anything fragile or otherwise you will need to start by procuring the necessary tools to help make packing as efficiently as possible. Some of the things you will need include:

  • Boxes – It will be helpful if you start out by taking an inventory of your items and getting a general idea of what size boxes you will need. This will likely save you some money if you have to buy boxes. In general, it is good to have a variety of box sizes and shapes.
  • Sturdy Scissors – You will most likely need to cut through thick cardboard to prepare your fragile items for transit, so a hefty pair of scissors is a must.
  • Newspaper – Plenty of wadded up newspaper will come in handy when you have an oddly shaped item in a box, and some spaces need to be filled.
  • Sharpies – Sharpies in various colors or any permanent markers will help you denote which boxes fit into whichever categories you create and let movers know which boxes contain fragile items.
  • Bubble Wrap – Bubble wrap is a must for wrapping glass, porcelain, or any other precarious materials.
  • Packing Tape – Packing tape will be needed to seal boxes and secure paper and bubble wrap around your possessions.
  • Spare Cardboard – Spare cardboard can be cut up to help secure certain items.

It is also vital to:

  1. A) Leave plenty of time before your actual moving day to start packing and,
  2. B) Start packing you breakables after you have everything else packed as they will be the most time-consuming

Having a clear and spacious area in which to prep your fragile belongings will also be important. Large working tables and benches are ideal in packing situations, but a large area of cleared off flooring can work just as well. Just make sure you have a large, flat surface in which to operate. Once you have all of your tools, materials, and an area prepped, it’s time to move on to the bulk of the move.

The Actual Packing

Knowing the best way to pack your fragile goods will save you time and prevent loss. Let’s start with the most common items:

Flatware and Glasses require individual wrapping. For plates, start with wrapping a couple of layers of bubble paper completely around each one and secure the layers with packing tape. They should be packed in small to medium boxes that have been lined top, side, and bottom with newspaper, packing paper, packing peanuts, or even old T-shirts. Glasses should be filled with packing or newspaper and placed in boxes that have been lined with paper as well. The heavier glasses should be placed at the bottom of the box with lighter glasses going on top. With each layer of glasses, you should sort of create a custom mold around each one out of paper so that they don’t clink against one another and chip or break. Once you have your glasses and plates tightly packed in boxes, seal the boxes closed with at least one layer of packing tape.

Lamps should be disassembled; the shade being packed separately from the base. The shade can be placed in a box of the corresponding size with the bottom, widest end lying flat against the bottom of the box. Completely fill the inside of the shade with paper so that it resists crumbling under pressure and also the outsides of the shade between the shade itself and the inside of the box. Then, wrap the base thoroughly with bubble wrap, secure with tape and place it into an appropriately sized box, filling in any large empty spaces with paper.

Framed Pictures and artwork can be packed similarly to glasses and plates; make sure the box has been lined with paper and put cushions of paper in between each one. When you are done, make sure there is no space left in the box for them to move around – you can do this by filling empty space with more paper. Large framed items should be wrapped in bubble wrap or a moving blanket, guarded with Styrofoam frame protectors that go over the corners and secured with tape.

Oddly-Shaped Delicates such as musical instruments, antique furniture, and art made from shatterable material should be handled in a custom fashion. In any case, you are going to want to wrap the entire thing in bubble wrap, paying particular attention to protruding sections, odd edges, and sharp corners. Then, place the packaged item on a piece of custom-cut cardboard with another piece of cardboard on top of it (make sure the pieces are large enough to wrap around the item essentially) and tape the two pieces of cardboard shut around the object. It won’t look pretty but be sure to be generous with the tape as you don’t want the layer of outer cardboard to detach from the bubble-wrapped item. Place the entire item in a close-fitting box and fill in any spaces with paper, so it doesn’t move around too much. Make sure to write “FRAGILE” on the box to make sure the item gets handled with caution.

When Careful Packing Isn’t Enough

When you have items like special musical or mechanical equipment, antique items, vases, or particularly rare, valuable or heavy pieces, you may want to consider crating. Custom crating is a service offered by most moving companies whereby specialists work on-site to create custom crates or containers to move your particularly valuable or awkwardly-shaped items safely. They will usually fabricate a custom crate out of wood and then custom molding for the item that wraps around it and keeps it from rattling around in the customized container.

Again this may be a good option for you if you feel that you cannot safely pack and transport a particular item because of its weight or shape. It will cost you a little extra to be sure, but it may be well worth the price to ensure the safety of your most prized items.