If you don’t want it to arrive damaged, pack it properly the condition of your treasured belongings when they arrive at your new home will largely depend upon the way they were packed: specifically, the skills of the packer and the quality of packing materials.
How things have changed
Once upon a time, tea chests, newspapers, corrugated paper and string were the order of the day. There is no place for these today: modulised cartons, which are cleaner, far more practical and cause no damage to packer or the contents, have replaced tea chests! Half tea chest-size cartons now accommodate heavier items like books, records and tool-kits. Whilst the full size are for chinaware, glasses and kitchenware, with lighter goods, such as clothes, bedding, toys and the like are accommodated in equivalent 1½ tea chest cartons.
There is an array of specialist cartons for items that need special care, such as pictures, wine, hanging clothes and layflats, which are like suitcases. This modulisation allows for maximum density and usage of space. This is important if moving abroad as it reduces freight costs, but do ensure your mover is going to use heavier export gauge cartons (many don’t due to the cost).
To pack or not to pack?
Some people will want to pack smaller items themselves and movers will sell packing materials and give helpful hints on how to avoid the more obvious pitfalls. Whilst clients may wish to pack non-breakables leaving the high-risk items to the professionals, they often overlook the opportunity to pack lightweight soft items inside the furniture cupboard space and drawers.
Van deliveries across the UK or Europe can allow for furniture items to be simply woolen blanket wrapped on the vehicle. This is especially true on full loads when there is no trans-shipment between warehouses or vehicles and if the vehicles have air-ride suspension for smoother and safer transportation. Small items need to be carefully and individually wrapped prior to packing into cartons to avoid potential chaffing, chipping or breakage. This internal wrapping can include tissue (acid free for silver), clean unprinted white paper (newsprint), globular straw bossed sheets (found between new crockery), bubble-wrap, polystyrene granules, carton inserts and dividers.
Clients for Europe may still require full export packing of furniture based upon their personal needs, the mode of transportation and/or the value of their goods. Sometimes value dictates that items are fully export wrapped prior to movement.
Once again, standards can vary dramatically. Although a standard paper blanket can be quickly wrapped around a furniture piece in the home, it actually gives less protection than a woolen blanket used on normal van movements. All materials used must be full export quality and not so flimsy that they will tear at the first lift. The professional packer will create a “work of art” with every part of the item ensconced within the neatly taped package of materials.
The need for non-abrasive products which nestle against the polished surfaces of furniture eliminates the use of corrugated paper, cardboard or other materials that can soon be impressed onto the furniture. The packaging needs to be sturdy enough to give outer protection against knocks and abrasions. This usually entails several layers of padding or simply over-wrapping so there is a soft inner layer is combined with a stronger outer core, which will not imprint through the inner protection. Ideally, a specialist export blanket, consisting of five or six layers of varying strength and composition, possibly followed by an overlay of card for final impact protection, should be used. There is also foam bubble available which has been designed not to make the item sweat or cause indentation marks.
The use of plain polythene needs to be avoided due to the climatic changes and the fact most items contain an element of moisture, especially fabrics, which will then easily change into mildew - certainly not recommended for beds of sofas.
Professional movers will pack everything inside the home. This is to reassure customers as they can see the care and attention taken by the crew. Once the goods are all individually packed, a full inventory is completed which both numbers the items and declares their condition, which acts as the receipt for the shipment.
If you are worried about just how careful a mover is, ask about its insurance claim record – the number and level of claims it is always a good indication.