The Comprehensive Guide to Shipping Furniture

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a disassembled bed frame and boxes ready for the next step of shipping furniture

When you’re preparing for a big move, especially a move across the country, you may need to ship your furniture instead of moving it yourself. Figuring out how to ship your furniture safely, however, can pose a challenge. There are several things to take into consideration when shipping furniture. 

The Nine-Step Guide for Shipping Furniture

When you’re shipping furniture instead of packing it in a moving van, it’s important to find a service you can trust and make sure you know every part of the process. Follow these nine steps to get your furniture safely to its destination.

1. Choose your shipping company. 

Check with several furniture shipping companies to get estimates and quotes that will help you estimate the total cost of shipping furniture. Make sure you choose a reputable and well-known provider, especially if this is the first time you’re shipping furniture. Both UPS and FedEx offer reasonable in-country shipping options and transparent, established processes. 

2. Choose the right size shipping box for your needs. 

You may want individual shipping boxes for specific pieces of furniture. Alternatively, you may choose to use one larger box to hold the legs and shelves from several pieces of furniture. For large furniture, you may even need to create your own shipping box out of cardboard.

In some cases, you can acquire free moving boxes from locations in your local area. In others, you may need to contact the shipping company for a box specifically designed to fit your furniture. Extra space can increase the risk of damage in transit.

3. Remove anything stored inside your furniture.

Take the books out of bookshelves and the contents out of drawers. Also, remove the contents of chests and other storage furniture. This is a great time to get rid of any items that you no longer want or need! Even more importantly, shipping these loose items separately reduces potential damage to both the items and the furniture.

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4. Take the legs off of your furniture. 

Take apart anything that you can easily take apart and reassemble. If you don’t have the directions for reassembling your furniture, you may want to snap a picture of the assembled furniture with your phone first. This will make reassembly simpler. 

5. Securely pack all the pieces together. 

Use bags or boxes, cushioned with packing materials, to help you keep all the smaller pieces and hardware together while shipping furniture. Keep all screws and connectors in bags attached to larger pieces of the furniture. With this extra step, you can easily tell which small pieces go with which pieces of furniture.

Pro Tip 

Store all the screws for a piece of furniture in a zipper bag, then tape it securely to the furniture to help prevent it from getting lost. Make sure that it’s tucked neatly away, where it will not get separated from the rest of your furniture.

6. Pad the edges of tables, chairs, and other delicate items. 

Add padding around anything that you don’t want to be scratched. Most shipping companies will provide Styrofoam packing, which will provide a layer of protection for your furniture that will help prevent scratches, bangs, and broken pieces. Use packing tape to attach that packing material to the furniture.

7. Carefully place the furniture in its packing box or create a box around the furniture. 

8. Tape up the box securely and add your shipping label.

9. Schedule a time to pick up your furniture.  

Pro Tip 

When shipping furniture that’s appraised above a certain value, make sure you inquire about the shipping insurance offered by the shipping company or movers. Make sure you understand what conditions need to apply for you to file a claim under that furniture shipping insurance. 

How Much Does Shipping Furniture Cost?

Shipping furniture can mean substantial expenses, especially if you need to ship it a long distance or you need to ship large quantities of furniture. The cheapest way to ship heavy items and bulky furniture is to consider all of the costs ahead of time and choose your service provider carefully. Actual shipping costs will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The weight of your furniture: Heavy antique furniture will cost considerably more to ship than lighter, modern pieces.
  • The size of your furniture: Regardless of its weight, if it takes up a great deal of space in the truck or on a plane when shipped, your furniture will cost more to ship. 
  • Which shipping company you choose: Some companies will offer better options for shipping furniture than others. Carefully compare costs before shipping. Make sure you take into account factors like needing to transfer shipping companies or the details of your local pickup and delivery. 
  • How far you will be shipping furniture: If you must factor in international shipping or shipping across the country, then shipping furniture may be more expensive than if you just need to ship it a couple of states over.

Pro Tip 

In order to get an estimate from a furniture shipping company, you will need to know the approximate size and weight of your furniture. Use a measuring tape to get basic dimensions, then use an online calculator to estimate the approximate weight of your furniture. 

How to Ship Furniture That Needs Special Care

someone disassembling a bookcase as part of the furniture shipping process

Some of your furniture will be fairly easy to ship. But other pieces of furniture may require some careful attention to ensure that it reaches its destination safely. Here are some items that require more care:

How to Ship a Mattress

Mattresses can be bulky and challenging, whether you’re shipping or storing them. To ship a mattress, you will need a mattress shipping box; this can be purchased through several online retailers. Place your mattress and box spring in bags, and then put them in the mattress shipping box. The bag will offer additional protection that will help prevent your mattress from getting dirty during shipping. 

How to Ship a Bookcase

When you’re preparing to ship a bookcase, start by removing all of the books. If the shelves are not a fixed part of the unit, remove them and pack them in a box before shipping. Place the pegs that support the shelves in a bag and add it to the box. 

How to Ship a Sofa

When shipping a sofa, the movers will wrap it to keep everything in place during the move. Before wrapping it, place the throw pillows that normally go on the sofa on top of it. These items will not add substantially to either the weight or the bulk of the item, but may provide some protection that can be extremely helpful throughout the shipping process. Also, you may want to remove the feet from the sofa before shipping. This will protect them from scratches and breakage. It can also help the sofa squeeze through tight doorways.

How to Ship a Grandfather Clock

If you need to ship a grandfather clock — especially one that has substantial financial or sentimental value — then you may want to bring in an expert. In some cases, you will need that expert to take the inner workings of the clock apart. They can package them carefully to prevent any damage during shipment. You may also want to contact an expert at your destination before shipping the clock. Then, you have someone on hand to put it back together again at the other end of the journey. 

You can take apart and reassemble your grandfather clock on your own. But having an expert take care of those tasks for you will prevent costly errors that could ultimately result in damage to your clock. 

How to Ship a Dining Table and Chairs

Your dining room table may be one of the biggest, heaviest pieces of furniture you need to ship. Check it ahead of time to see if you can safely remove the legs. Many tables can have the legs unscrewed, which will make transportation much easier. If you have a glass top table, it will need to be wrapped carefully to ensure that no damage occurs during shipping. You may also need to wrap and pad your chairs to offer protection during transport. 

Shipping furniture is often the least expensive and most effective way to get it to your new destination, especially if you don’t have the luxury of hiring movers. With these tips, you’ll be better prepared to safely ship your furniture and increase the odds that it will reach its destination safely. For more moving tips, you can also read our guide to packing shoes for a move.

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