How to Load a Moving Truck (And 7 Items You Should Leave Out)

Family loading boxes into the back portion of a moving truck

Your boxes are packed and moving day is right around the corner. You’re probably thinking that most of the hard work is done, but packing a moving truck requires just as much planning and technical know-how. To maximize the space in your rental truck, you’ll need to load strategically and position your furniture with care. More importantly, proper loading techniques protect your belongings from damage and balance the truck for a smoother ride. Before you begin your DIY move, it’s essential to learn how to load a moving truck.

Supplies Checklist for How to Load a Moving Truck

Moving professionals who know how to load a moving truck use a variety of supplies to safely load valuable possessions and unwieldy furniture into the back of a rental truck. Even when you’ve followed all the packing rules, you’ll need to make sure those carefully packed items fit snugly in place and don’t shift in transit. Make sure you have these supplies on hand before you get started:

  • Moving Blankets
  • Furniture Dolly
  • Padding
  • Mattress Protectors
  • Furniture Pads
  • Packing Tape
  • Gloves
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Extra Boxes
  • Moving Straps

7 Steps to Properly Load Your Moving Truck

Loading a truck seems easy. Your possessions are safely packed and taped up tight, so you can just cram everything in and go. But not so fast. Understanding how to load a moving truck requires time and precision. Plan to start early and pack the right way. Otherwise, you’ll likely spend twice as much time shifting your possessions around and making multiple trips. Take these steps to load your rental truck like a professional.

1. Determine What Size Rental Truck You Need

Before you can decide how to load a moving truck, you have to know what size to rent. If your truck is too small, then you’ll have to make multiple trips to move all of your belongings to your new home. This isn’t an option if you have a long distance to travel, and it’s usually not practical for a short move, either.

Popular moving truck rental companies (like U-haul, Penske, and Budget) have a variety of rental trucks and vans in various sizes. To determine what size moving truck you need, read the truck rental company’s size guidelines carefully. If you’re still not sure, consider using an online moving calculator or speaking to a truck rental representative from the truck rental company you plan to use.

2. Recruit Helpers

A one-person moving team is an easy way to end up with damaged furniture and severe injuries. Plan your moving day with plenty of time to spare so that you can recruit friends and family members to help you load the truck. You may not be able to afford the cost of hiring and tipping professional movers, but you can enlist some friends for the job.

If your assistants don’t know how to load a moving truck, you can supervise. Enlist your helpers well in advance of moving day and be prepared to provide a hearty meal as a thank you when the work is complete.

3. Disassemble Your Furniture

Many pieces of furniture are awkwardly shaped and can take up a large amount of space. Disassembling furniture will provide you with extra space and distribute the weight more evenly in the rental truck. While you can’t safely take apart all of your furniture, bed frames, dining tables, and some types of chairs can be easily disassembled.

4. Load Heavy Items First

Your heaviest items will require two people for loading and should be packed closest to the cab. Begin by safely loading large furniture and heavy appliances like your refrigerator, stove, washer, and dryer, using a furniture dolly and loading ramp. Line these heavy items along the front of the truck in their upright positions.

Pro Tip for How to Load a Moving Truck:

The best strategy for how to load a moving truck includes placing the heaviest items on both sides to balance the truck properly.

5. Load Long Items

Family loading furniture along the sides of a moving truck

Furniture like mattresses, box springs, and couches take up a considerable amount of room. These longer items will line the sides of the truck in an upright position to save space. Line up the bed frames, headboards, mattresses, and box springs on one side of the truck. Load couches, sofas, and loveseats on the opposite side of the truck to line the second wall.

6. Load Boxes

Place boxes on top of heavy furniture or stack them from floor to ceiling in the moving truck. Begin by stacking medium-sized boxes on top of heavy appliances and furniture at the front of the truck. Then place the largest, heaviest boxes along the truck floor in the middle between the furniture lining the truck’s walls. Stack boxes in rows with the heaviest on the bottom and lightest on top, securing each tier in place as you load.

Pro Tip for How to Load a Moving Truck:

Deciding how to load a moving truck might require some creativity. Make use of gaps under furniture, desks, in drawers, and on top of chair seats. You can easily secure moving boxes in any of these spots.

7. Fill in the Gaps

You have items in your home that simply aren’t shaped for stacking. These possessions will fill in the gaps left by boxes and furniture. While most of your heavier items will already be packed, some household items still remain. You can tuck oddly shaped items around furniture or other boxes and secure them in place.

Lighter items and fragile items should be placed last to avoid risks of crushing. Any essentials you expect to use immediately should be placed at the back of the truck so you can easily remove them when it’s time to unpack. Before leaving, secure everything with moving straps, plastic wrap, or packing tape so that nothing can shift while you’re on the road.

7 Items You Shouldn’t Pack in the Rental Truck

Part of learning how to load a moving truck is knowing the items you should leave out. When you’re paying for a rental truck, you’re probably not planning to use your personal vehicle as a moving truck. Still, there are certain items that you should keep with you during travel. Plan to keep these possessions separate so that you can pack them in your car.

1. Important Documents

While essential documents like birth certificates, passports, health information, and IDs can be packed neatly into a secure box, keep them in your possession for the duration of your trip.

2. Expensive Jewelry or Other Valuables

Small, fragile items can be easily damaged or broken when treated improperly. Other valuables like fine art and musical instruments should also travel with you when possible. These items could be susceptible to damage related to temperature changes or changing weather.

3. Necessities

While you expect you and your moving truck to arrive at your destination at roughly the same time, things happen. Unpacking can be chaotic, and you need to be able to access certain items when you need them. Pack a bag with family medications, toiletries, diapers and wipes, cash, phones and chargers, and kitchen supplies.

4. Pets and Supplies

If you’re traveling with pets, you probably planned alternate arrangements. But it can be easy to forget that your furry friend needs food, water, and perhaps a few toys to keep him occupied during travel. So keep toys, a water bowl, and a small bag of food and treats available.

5. Flammable Materials

You may think your belongings don’t include flammable materials, but a variety of household items are flammable. For instance, beauty products like hair spray and nail polish remover are flammable. If it says, “keep away from open flame,” don’t pack it in the moving truck.

6. Photo Albums

While photos and photo albums pack neatly into boxes and aren’t likely to cause damage to anything in the truck, they’re irreplaceable in every way. Enough said.

7. Weapons

If you’re a gun owner, then you must keep your weapons (even unloaded ones) in your control at all times. It’s difficult to control everything that occurs in and around your moving truck. Keep weapons in your personal vehicle for everyone’s safety.

Many people choose to save money with a DIY move instead of hiring a moving company. Most take a variety of packing tips into consideration but forget the details of loading. As you plan your move, learning how to load a moving truck is an essential step in making your move go smoothly from start to finish.

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