How to Move Heavy Furniture by Yourself: A Complete Guide

Two men moving a sofa into a living room

Professional movers make the moving process more seamless and efficient. However, there may come a time when you won’t have such help due to various factors such as budgetary constraints. When such a time comes, you’ll have to undertake the whole moving process by yourself. This includes knowing how to move heavy furniture by yourself.

Before we delve deep into this topic, let’s make one thing clear. When you move heavy furniture by yourself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are entirely on your own. Instead, it means you don’t have the help of a pro. Most people aren’t capable of carrying a couch up and down a staircase, or loading up the entire furnishings of their home into a truck, heavy furniture included. As such, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to ask for help from a partner, family, or friend during certain parts of your moving process, such as when lifting heavy furniture up or down the stairs.

With that in mind, the differences between having help from professional movers and a DIY move with your family, friend, or partner are quite distinct. This post offers tips on how to move heavy furniture yourself without the help of a pro. Continue reading to find out what they are.

Things to Do Before You Move Heavy Furniture by Yourself

Everyone wants to complete the moving process without incurring any injuries or damaging their property. Preparation is key to achieving that feat. Here is an outline of the things you should do before lifting a finger to move your furniture by yourself.

1. Dress appropriately

Just like there is an appropriate gym outfit, there is recommended attire to wear when moving heavy objects. For starters, you should wear proper shoes to ease your movement; high heels and flip-flops won’t cut it. As for clothing, you should wear light, loose and breathable tops and bottoms.

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2. Get rid of any obstacles

When moving heavy furniture, one of the most important tips is to clear your area of any obstacles that may cause you to either trip or fall. This means removing shoes, toys, and boxes from the pathways or the floor. You should also ensure that neither your kids nor your pets are running around your moving area.

3. Ensure that your premises and furniture are safe

There is a high chance that you’ll face a couple of bumps when moving heavy furniture. These bumps could lead to your property getting damaged. To prevent this from happening, you can wrap plastic or bubble wrap around your furniture. Likewise, you can protect your floor by placing furniture pads underneath your furniture to prevent them from scraping the floor. At the same time, you can place cardboard on walls to reduce scratches and dents that may happen when furniture scratches against them during the moving process.

4. Ensure you have proper moving equipment

There are instances when brute strength is the solution to your problem. One such case is when moving heavy furniture. While strength is still a vital component when you move heavy furniture by yourself, you can reduce the amount of strength needed by using the following equipment:

  • Ramps: This equipment enables you to easily and safely haul heavy furniture over stairs into a moving truck or your new apartment.
  • Dollies: A dolly enables you to move heavy items easily without the need to over-exert yourself. Most dollies are either two-wheeled or four-wheeled hand trucks.
  • Moving straps: Moving straps ensure that the weight of the object is evenly distributed across your body so that you don’t develop any strain on your leg and back muscles.
  • Work gloves: Work gloves can protect you from any injury inflicted by jagged or sharp edges of your furniture. They also ensure that you don’t transfer dirt onto your stuff during the moving process.
  • Sliders: This equipment is mostly used to move furniture across hardwood floors or tiles. The sliders are placed underneath the furniture to help protect the floor from any damage and facilitate easier sliding and gliding across the floor.

5. Ensure that you stretch before beginning the moving process

Moving and lifting heavy furniture is a full-body workout. It involves you using most, if not all, of your muscles. Immersing yourself in the moving process before stretching your body could lead to you pulling or straining your muscles. Don’t take chances. Ensure that you do some stretches to warm up your muscles before engaging in this laborious task.

Proper Lifting Techniques as You Move Heavy Furniture by Yourself

Couple moving a dining room table

If you have ever moved, you understand the headache that comes with this process. The high stress levels that come with dealing with an irresponsible mover, together with the high cost of acquiring the services of a professional mover in the first place, can push you to move your furniture by yourself.

Whereas moving your own furniture is a great way to cut on cost, not knowing the proper techniques of doing so may end up being costly in the long run. You may damage your furniture, or worse still, end up developing health complications. We’ve outlined proper lifting techniques for moving heavy furniture to help you avoid such predicaments:

1. Carefully assess the task at hand before you start lifting

Hastiness can cause you more harm than good when it comes to moving heavy pieces of furniture. You could end up damaging the furniture or injuring yourself. You can avoid this by carefully assessing the task at hand to determine whether or not you can handle it on your own. If the furniture is too heavy to be carried by one person, be sure to ask for help.

2. Maintain a stable base

You can maintain a stable base by slightly widening your feet so they are of the same width as your shoulders. You should also ensure that one of your feet slightly stretches forward to enhance your stability as you move heavy furniture by yourself.

3. Use a proper back posture

Wrong lifting techniques may lead to you developing a severe back injury. Ensure that you keep your back straight, your shoulders slightly pulled back, and you look straight ahead when lifting heavy objects.

4. Bend your knees and not your back

As a rule of thumb, you should always ensure that your knees and not your back are bent when moving heavy items. Doing this ensures that you don’t strain your weaker back muscles.

5. Maintain a firm grip

Firmly grip the piece of furniture before attempting to lift it. This will ensure that the furniture doesn’t fall from your hands when you’re moving it. One excellent way of achieving a firm grip is by wearing work gloves.

6. Keep the heavy furniture close to your body

Keeping the heavy piece of furniture close to your body ensures that you gain a stable pose, given that the piece of furniture stays close to the center of gravity.

7. Never twist your back

Rather than twisting or turning your back to turn with the load, turn your hips at the waist and slowly move your feet towards your desired direction.

8. Move in a slow and smooth manner

Don’t make abrupt movements since doing so may cause an increase in pressure on a given part of your body. Also, make sure that you take smooth, calculated steps throughout the process to minimize the chances of you tripping or falling.

9. Push instead of pulling to move heavy furniture by yourself

When using mechanical aids such as dollies or sliders to move heavy pieces of furniture, remember that it is safer to push than pull them back towards you. Pushing heavy objects not only ensures that you use less force. It also ensures that you have a better view of what is happening in front of you.

How to Move Heavy Furniture Upstairs by Yourself

Lifting and carrying heavy furniture up or down the stairs is one of the biggest moving hardships. Whether you’re relocating to an apartment that doesn’t have an elevator or you need to get your piano to the second floor of your new apartment, moving heavy furniture upstairs can be a huge hassle. It’s challenging, laborious, and downright dangerous. If something goes amiss, you can not only damage the furniture but also break the banisters and stairs, or worse still, hurt yourself. To prevent that from happening, here’s a guide to help you safely move your furniture up the stairs:

Plan and prepare

Before lifting a heavy piece of furniture and starting to haul it upstairs, you need to know what exactly you’re up against and the solutions there may be. In short, you need to formulate a plan.

Measure the furniture and the space

What’s the width of the stairs? Is there enough space around the corners? What’s the distance to the ceiling? What are the dimensions of the furniture, and will it fit? Having such measurements at hand will help you come up with a way to easily move heavy furniture by yourself, even upstairs.

Consider the type of stairs

Are the staircases spiral, helical, or straight in shape, and are they made from marble, concrete, or wood? Straight staircases cause fewer problems given that you won’t have to turn the piece of furniture around as you go. However, if you’ll be moving a heavy piece up or down a helical or spiral staircase, the tasks will be more dangerous given that curved staircases are usually narrower, lack landings, and require that you turn and twist the furniture. Additionally, if the staircase is made using marble or wood, you will need to take extra care not to damage the steps when moving your furniture up or down.

Decide on how you’ll position the furniture and the angle at which you’ll carry it up or down the stairs

Having measured the available space, determined the type of staircase, and the width and length of the furniture, you will have a rough idea of the ideal position in which to move the furniture such that you have enough room to maneuver. Depending on the type of furniture, you may position it vertically or horizontally to easily move it up or down the staircase.

When moving a long piece of furniture such as a wardrobe or sofa, it is advisable to position it horizontally so that it won’t get stuck against the staircase or ceiling. Conversely, when moving furniture that is less than 6.5 feet high, it is best to move it in a vertical position so that you can turn it easily on landings.

Protect the banisters and the stairs

You can protect the stairs and the banisters by taking the following measures:

  • Protecting the edges of the steps using stair edge guards.
  • Placing blankets or rugs on marble or wood steps to keep them safe just in case a heavy piece of furniture drops.
  • Covering carpeted staircases with self-adhesive plastic film to keep them clean and reduce the risk of tearing when hauling heavy furniture up or down the stairs.
  • Wrap blankets or rugs around banisters to minimize the risk of scratching or breaking them on the moving day.

Prepare the furniture

Carrying and lifting heavy furniture up the stairs is not only challenging but dangerous. Luckily, there’s a way to make this process less challenging and dangerous. All you need to do is prepare the furniture. Here’s how:

  • Empty the pieces of furniture to reduce their weight and prevent their contents from falling while the furniture is being moved upstairs.
  • Disassemble the furniture to make it more compact and much lighter.
  • Wrap the furniture using a thick blanket to provide it with extra padding around the corners and edges to minimize the risk of damage to the piece of furniture. Use a plastic stretch wrap to keep the cushioning and protective materials in place.

Get your furniture up the stairs

Once you’re done with the planning, have gathered the appropriate moving equipment, and asked a friend, partner, or family member for help moving your furniture, all that remains is to move it upstairs. There are three approaches you can use to achieve this:

1. Carrying the furniture up the stairs

Your first option to move heavy furniture by yourself upstairs is going the old-fashioned way: lifting the furniture and slowly walking with it up the stairs. If you opt for this method, then you need to know how to do it without damaging the furniture or causing harm to yourself.

  • Ensure that you maintain a stable base before attempting to lift the heavy furniture piece.
  • Lift the furniture from one side and also have someone else (or people) lift it from the opposite side.
  • Ensure that the stronger person walks on the lower side of the furniture. Suppose there are two people carrying the piece from one side, then they should be the ones at the lower side of the staircase.
  • Utilize the high and low approach. The person who walks first and is higher on the step should hold the piece of furniture from the top end, and the person on the lower end of the step should do so from the bottom. This way, the piece of furniture will be more stable, better balanced, and easier to turn.
  • Walk slowly and smoothly.
  • Be careful when turning, especially when moving an extra-large piece.
  • If you are moving a heavy piece of furniture into an upstairs apartment, don’t try to take it all the way up to the right floor in one go. Stop for a rest every few flights to avoid straining your joints and muscles.
  • If you’re moving several pieces of furniture, start with the bulkiest. Then you’ll be carrying the lighter items when you’re already tired.
  • Assign a spotter to give you directions and warn you of any obstacles as you move up the stairs.

2. Use a hand truck to move heavy furniture by yourself

Here’s how to use a hand truck to move heavy furniture up the stairs:

  • Seek help from someone to lift the furniture onto the dolly. Balance the weight of the furniture by centering it on the flat base of the dolly.
  • Tightly secure the furniture using flat hooks or bungee cords.
  • Stand back on the first step and lean the dolly towards yourself.
  • Carefully make a step up and back to the next stair, and then pull the dolly up so that the wheels are on the first stair. Walking back, pull the hand truck one step at a time.
  • Have someone at the other end supporting the furniture and helping lift it from step to step. Be careful not to drop the dolly as it may injure your helper.

3. Use a shoulder dolly

A shoulder dolly can help you lift and carry heavier items than you normally can. It will also enable you to safely navigate the stairs. Here’s how to use this strap system properly:

  • Secure the shoulder harness around your shoulder. Your helper should also do the same.
  • Slip the carrying strap under the piece of furniture and attach one end to your harness and the other to your partner’s harness.
  • Bend your knees and place your palms flat against the furniture. (Your partner should also do the same.)
  • Stand up and simultaneously straighten your arms to lift the piece using the leverage from the straps and the strength of your shoulder and leg muscles.
  • Ensure that the stronger person walks on the lower side of the stairs for extra support. The person on the top side of the staircase should guide and steady the furniture.

How to Move Heavy Furniture Downstairs by Yourself

Roommates following best practices for moving furniture by yourself downstairs

There are different ways of moving heavy objects down the stairs. Here’s an outline of some of them.

1. Using a hand truck

Here’s how to use a hand truck to move heavy furniture down the stairs:

  • With the help of your partner, lift the furniture onto the dolly. Ensure that you center the item on the flat base of the dolly to balance its weight.
  • Secure the furniture tightly using bungee cords or flat hook straps.
  • Stand behind the dolly and firmly grip the handles and then tilt the hand truck towards yourself to balance the weight on the wheels and roll the dolly backward down the stairs.
  • Then wheel the hand truck to the top of the stairs, and then tilt it backward so that it leans against your body, and slowly roll the hand truck down the first step. Walk carefully forward and slowly lower the dolly one step at a time.
  • Of course, you should have someone on the other side supporting the furniture and helping you lower it from one step to the next.

2. Using a temporary ramp to move heavy furniture downstairs

You don’t want to carry your heavy couch, recliner, dining room table, and other appliances down the steps on your moving day—that’s just too much work. One of the easiest ways to get your heavy pieces of furniture moved downstairs is by constructing a temporary ramp to ease the process.

3. Using moving straps

When using a moving strap, two people are required on each end of the heavy furniture. The carrier strap connects to the front of each harness and slips under the item. When using straps to move items downstairs, the stronger person should always be on the lower side of the staircase. This is because gravity shifts the weight downward, thereby leaving the role of steading the item to the person on the top side.

How to Move Heavy Furniture on a Carpet by Yourself

When moving heavy furniture, it’s vital to exercise caution to prevent damage to the floors or injuries. Carpet damage can be very costly, more so if the damaged carpet is fairly big. That said, there are a few ways of safely moving heavy furniture on a carpet without damaging the carpet or furniture. Let’s have a look at them:

Use moving blankets or towels to move heavy furniture by yourself

In case you have extra blankets or towels, you can use them to move heavy furniture across the carpet. Simply sliding the towel or blanket beneath the heavy furniture can keep you from causing damage to the carpet. Moreover, wrapping towels or blankets around your furniture protects it from the dings and scratches during the move.

Use furniture sliders or coasters to move heavy furniture by yourself

Suppose you aren’t able to disassemble your furniture. You should consider using sliders and coasters beneath it. These are typically small round pads placed on the bottom of the furniture to prevent it from damaging the carpet. Once you’ve placed the sliders or coasters underneath your furniture, you will have minimal issues sliding them across the carpet.

Use a dolly to move heavy furniture by yourself

Dollies take most of the work out of moving furniture. Moreover, they completely protect your carpet from damage, given that the only things that will come into contact with the carpet are the wheels.

Use plywood boards to move heavy furniture by yourself

You can use plywood boards to create some sort of subfloor beneath the furniture to prevent damage during the move. This could be an efficient way of ensuring that your carpet doesn’t get damaged when moving heavy furniture across it.

Use floor runners to move heavy furniture by yourself

An excellent floor runner should be able to provide you with a great non-slip surface when moving heavy pieces of furniture across your carpet.

Learn About Our Storage Units

Now that you’re familiar with how to move heavy furniture by yourself across various surfaces, where will you put the heavy items during the relocation process? Where can you store the heavy furniture that you won’t use in the near future? If you need a storage unit, we are here to save the day. At Neighbor, we provide all kinds of storage units in various places, including New York and Los Angeles. Our site managers are also available to help you choose the best unit size for your storage needs. Feel free to contact us to reserve a storage unit today.