How to Pack Fragile Furniture

On moving day, fragile furniture can add extra stress to an already difficult process. Unless you never grew out of your inflatable furniture phase of the late 90s, you most likely have pieces that could use some extra attention as you pack them for moving or storage.

Although MakeSpace’s Storage Rules disclaim all liability for items that one could reasonably call “fragile,” we do still store them. All we ask is that they’re packed with additional care.

If you know you’ll be storing delicate furniture like the items below, and you don’t want to give them a second thought once they’re hauled away to our secure storage facility, be sure to follow these tips:

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Particle Board

Old Pallets

Vanity Sets with Mirrors

Wooden Desks/Tables with Carving and Ornamentation

Small Plastic Appliances

Glass-Top Tables

Particle Board

black laminated particle board shelf

Particle board is an engineered wood product that can be laminated for the look of real wood but without the heft or cost. It’s manufactured from combining wood chips, sawmill shavings, or sawdust and a synthetic resin or other binder, and is then pressed and extruded.

Particle board is commonly found in cabinetry, furniture manufactured in the 1950s, or inexpensive pieces that are more or less meant to be temporary additions to your decor. It is considered fragile because its pressed wood components are more susceptible to damage than their solid wood counterparts. This is particularly true when the piece required assembly after purchase, but will be stored and/or moved in its fully-assembled state.

If you’re trying to pack these items for storage, note that while our SpaceMakers will be thrilled with how easy your furniture is to carry, they will be hesitant about dents and dings. Since the structural integrity of the material is not guaranteed, you’ll find that many moving and storage companies do not offer increased insurance coverage for furniture made of particle board.

To protect pieces made of this material, take extra care in wrapping the edges and corners of bookcases, desks, cabinets, dressers, and shelves. Adding a layer of bubble wrap or other padding prior to wrapping the item in a moving blanket will help prevent chips and impressions on the material’s surface.

Old Pallets

discarded old wood pallets
Flickr/Walt Stoneburner

If you’re a DIY genius, you’ve likely taken home a discarded pallet you found on the side of the road and crafted a custom coffee table, hanging planter, or bookshelf.

Hopefully, before you broke out the nail gun, you checked whether the pallet was marked with an HT or MB. These codes tell you how the wood was treated prior to being made into a pallet, and could affect its strength and safety when it’s repurposed into something else.

Heat treating (HT) is a process in which the wood is heated to a core temperature of at least 132.8°F (56°C). HT is performed as a pest control treatment and is not otherwise harmful to your health.

Pallets marked with “MB” have been chemically treated using and methyl bromide. This potent pesticide kills invasive insects like pine beetles, but has also been linked to health issues in humans, as well as having a negative impact on nature. Methyl bromide was banned in 2005 by The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC); however, you may still find pallet wood from time to time that has been treated in this manner. We’d recommend avoiding it.

Regardless of how the wood was treated, pallet projects are considered fragile because of the unpredictable nature of recycled wood. While definitely sturdier than particle board, wood from pallets could have been subjected to environmental factors or weakened from prior use.

Before packing this kind of furniture up, tighten screws and give nails a few light taps with a hammer to secure them. Then, wrap the entire piece in packing paper to avoid snags on any rough edges, and cover it with a moving blanket.

Wooden Desks/Tables with Carving and Ornamentation

vintage wood desk with carving and golden decoration
Flickr/Housing Works Thrift Shops

Your grandmother’s beautiful wooden writing desk is incredibly solid. It’s the carved details and additional ornamentation that make pieces like this gorgeous, and since you don’t see furniture decorated like that anymore, you know you’ve got a timeless piece on your hands. Unfortunately, these elements make older items risky to move, as well. With decorative components protruding from the piece, the possibility of it of being scratched or chipped increases, which can take away from its character and value.

If there are any embellishments that give you cause for concern, wrap a few extra layers of padding on to provide extra protection. Steer clear of any material that could scratch the wood, and avoid using tape near its surface, as it could remove the finish and/or leave behind an unsightly residue.

Vanity Sets with Mirrors

black makeup vanity with mirror

A classic vanity set is a piece of furniture that can be passed down from generation to generation. Let’s make sure it makes it through that journey scuff-free by packing it safely.

If the vanity itself is solid wood, it can be wrapped appropriately and would not be considered fragile, and is therefore covered under MakeSpace’s standard protection plan. The mirror, however, is a different story.

The mirror falls under the “fragile” category for obvious reasons. When still connected to the vanity base, it’s less sturdy than it would be on its own, and runs the risk of cracking or breaking off. If possible, separate the mirror from the vanity so that it can be safely wrapped independently from the rest of the piece.

To do so, first put tape across the mirror in a criss-cross pattern to keep it secure and hold pieces together should any accidental breakage occur. Wrap the mirror in packing paper or newspaper, then wrap again in bubble wrap. Wrapping in only bubble wrap can cause it to cling to the mirror’s surface and create tension that could lead to cracking, so be sure to do the newsprint step first.

Prepare a large, flat box meant for frames by stuffing the bottom of it with extra newspaper. Place the mirror inside and fill any gaps with newspaper, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or other protective packing material. Tape the box shut, and be sure to label it “Fragile” so the SpaceMakers know to use even greater care than usual.

Small Plastic Appliances

white plastic cuisinart food processor on granite countertop
Flickr/Ernie Murphy

You’ll never crave a quesadilla more than when you receive your quesadilla maker back from storage and it’s cracked beyond repair. We don’t want anything to come between you and cheesy goodness, but the plastic coating on these and other small appliances is susceptible to breaking if not properly wrapped for storage.

To make sure your food processors, electric kettles, rice cookers, and more won’t suffer from electrical issues or total product damage, start by coiling the cord appropriately. Then, wrap the appliance in a couple layers of bubble wrap or a thick sweatshirt to give it extra cushion before it’s packed away in a bin.

If you have the original box that the product came in, or if you’ve found a small box that will hold it, stuff a few old socks or washcloths in the free spaces to eliminate shifting and provide a little softness.

Glass-Top Tables

round glass top dining table with wood base

A glass-top table is the be-all-end-all of fragile items. It’s both incredibly delicate and dauntingly cumbersome, and if not wrapped properly, it’s almost guaranteed to come out of a storage or moving experience with some kind of damage.

Let’s avoid that, shall we?

Being scrutinizing when protecting the table is the best defense against encountering any issues, so although this seems like a lot of steps to follow, we swear they’ll be worth it.

First, remove the glass top from the table base. For some tables, this will simply entail lifting the glass off the base. For others, you may need to carefully unscrew the top to separate it (detailed steps on how to do that can be found here). Wrap the base as you would any other wood furniture.

Once the glass top is removed, wrap it completely in packing paper secured with tape. Make sure the tape doesn’t come in direct contact with the glass or else you’ll have some sticky adhesive residue to deal with. Wrap the paper-covered glass again in bubble wrap (avoiding direct bubble-wrap-to-glass contact—see Vanity Sets with Mirrors for the reason why).

Next, place the glass top inside a large box suitable for a TV or frame. Fill any empty spots with extra packing paper or bubble wrap, and tape it shut. Label the box as “Fragile” and even note that it is a glass table top so that the SpaceMakers are aware of the extra care it requires.

 

Once you’ve wrapped and cushioned like nobody’s business, you can breathe easy knowing your fragile furniture will be handled responsibly by MakeSpace.

Although they don’t fall under our storage rules, we’re still happy to pick up these pieces (once they’ve been verified as safely packed) and carefully transport them to our secure storage facility. There, they’ll be cautiously stored until you’re ready to have them returned to you, which is super simple: Just schedule a delivery online or in the app, and we’ll bring your items right back.

Don’t sink to using plastic milk crates and cardboard furniture simply because you’re worried about moving fragile items. With a little extra attention and a lot of bubble wrap, your delicate furniture can withstand storage without a problem.