Moving to a new home and mailing a gift have something in common. And we aren’t talking about the fact that that they both start with the letter ‘M’. Whether moving or mailing, leaving precious or fragile items in someone else’s hands can be anxiety-provoking. After all, how many of us have received a damaged package in the mail? Or had a moving box with broken items inside? Yet, many times these accidents could easily have been prevented by implementing a few precautions and know-how.
If you want your items to get to their destination in one piece, this is what you need to know.
Don’t Skimp on the Box
When it comes to packing glassware, porcelain, or other fragile materials, you need to use a strong box. Moving boxes are best since they have a double corrugated wall. Not only is a thicker wall less likely to tear or bust open, but it will also act as more of a shock absorber. Ideally, your box should allow for a layer of padding that is a few centimeters thick on each side of the box.
What about used boxes? Skip these altogether for fragile and precious items. Even after just one use, boxes lose some of their wall strength.
Be Generous with Padding
If you have more than one item going into a box, you’ll want to wrap each piece in paper or bubble wrap. From there, create a layer of padding on all sides of the box, so items don’t touch the outer walls. Finally, add more padding between the items and to the top of the box before sealing it. Everything should feel tightly packed and nothing should be moving around.
While newspaper can make for good packing paper, don’t wrap an item directly in this as the ink may smear on it. Instead, wrap the item in blank paper first. Or, if you’re really concerned, skip the newspaper altogether.
Rent Plastic Totes
Alternatively, you may want to opt for reusable plastic crates if you are moving. These rentable crates are an environmentally friendly option that won’t get soggy if it decides to rain or snow—unlike cardboard boxes—so there is no fear of the box collapsing at any point. They are available through companies like U-Haul, Rent A Green Box, and Frogbox.
Use TV Boxes
Whether you are shipping a canvas or moving a mirror, a television box from your local hardware store can save you a lot of agony. These boxes extend to the desired size and have Styrofoam padding, so you know your item is snug and won’t rattle around. Alternatively, moving companies and places like U-Haul also offer special boxes for televisions, mirrors, and art.
Moving a mirror? Make a star shape across the front with painter’s tape. This will help keep the glass in place during transportation and absorb some of the vibrations.
Get Custom Crates
For highly valuable artwork, statues, and marble furniture, it is best to get custom wood crates made to ensure their safety. You can contract a carpenter to create these for you or use a company that specializes in wood crates like Crater and Freighters. But if you don’t want to deal with wood crates at all, then consider contacting a white glove moving service to take care of custom crates for you.
Go White Glove
Speaking of white glove moving, when in doubt of your own moving skills, this is the service you need to tend to your move. This luxury moving service goes above and beyond regular moving packages with upgrades like custom wooden crates built to keep your items safe, padded moving trucks, and extra diligent packing and unpacking. Perfect for those with a lot of fragile items in their home or those who have bulky and fragile possessions like grand pianos and fine art.
Cushion Musical Instruments
If the instrument you are transporting has a case, it is best to keep it in there. For extra protection, cushion around it with soft pieces of clothing, ideally T-shirts—anything with zippers and buttons risks scratching. Also, skip the paper for cushioning on instruments as it also poses a scratching risk.
Label Everything Clearly
Get a roll of tape with ‘FRAGILE’ printed on it to use on any fragile boxes or packages. Alternatively, you can also get the same kind of tape that says ‘DO NOT CRUSH’ or even more specifically ‘FRAGILE GLASS’. Don’t have fragile tape? If you don’t have time to swing by a store and scoop some up, write it directly on the box with a permanent black marker or print out your own fragile label. You can find templates online or simply open a word processor like Word or TextEdit and type your message in a large font and an attention-grabbing color like red.
Take It into Your Own Hands
Consider transporting precious items in your own vehicle for a move. That way, you don’t have to worry about them getting lost. Sending a valuable item by mail? Instead, you may want to wait until you see the recipient in person. If that’s not possible, opt for a shipping service that provides a tracking number. That way, your package is far less likely to get lost as you can track exactly where it is.
The truth is that you can pack everything perfectly, but sometimes accidents still happen with both moving and shipping. While this is undoubtedly devastating when this occurs, especially for irreplaceable or sentimental items, insurance can at least reimburse you for your loss. Just be sure to take lots of photos of the damaged item as proof to help avoid your claim getting denied.
If you aren’t sure the exact value of your item and have serious concerns about damage, get it appraised before transporting.
Life is full of little stressors and you don’t need damaged items added to that list. And by using the proper packaging and techniques, you can significantly minimize the risk. Will it prevent that ugly figurine that was gifted to you from breaking? Well, that’s another story! After all, there is such a thing as a happy “accident”.