Ask ten different people about the best way to pack a truck and you’ll likely get ten different opinions. While there isn’t an exact science to how a moving truck should be loaded, there are some proven guidelines that can help maximize your storage space and the safety of your belongings.
1. Plan Ahead
- Consult with your rental truck company on the proper truck size for your move. Renting a moving truck that is too big is not only a waste of your money, it also puts the safety of your belongings at risk, with too much room for items to move or shift during transport. On the contrary, rent a moving truck that is too small, and you may need to leave some of your belongings behind.
- Take inventory of your belongings – specifically the larger items – and develop a plan for how to best protect and move these items.
- Assess the best doorways and exits for moving large items out of your home and ensure you have a safe, unobstructed pathway to your moving truck.
2. Be Prepared
- Purchase, borrow or rent all the necessary packing and moving supplies you need to keep your belongings safe, protected, and secure. This includes furniture pads or blankets, plastic stretch wrap, paper padding, packaging tape, furniture straps, tarps, and a dolly.
- Ensure you have enough people lined up to help you move. Designate at least two people to stay in the truck to place and secure items. The remaining helpers will carry items from your home to the truck.
3. Protect Your Belongings
- Read How to Pack for a Stress-Free Move for packing tips on how to properly protect your belongings, label boxes, and determine your essential items that should be packed and loaded last.
4. Load Heaviest Items First
- Placing the heaviest items (like major appliances) at the front of your moving truck will help prevent the back of your truck from being too weighted down and potentially dragging on the road.
- Load heavy appliances first, placed upright and strapped against the back wall of your moving truck. Protect with blankets, towels, or furniture pads to prevent dents and scratches.
- Next, load large pieces of furniture. Wrap for protection and strap to back and/or sides of truck for stability. Ensure that anything with drawers (dressers, desks, etc.) is loaded with its drawers facing a padded wall to prevent them from opening during transit. Load couches vertically (propped up and secured on its side) to maximize space in your moving truck.
5. Load Long Items Second
- Ensure your longest items (tabletops, headboards, bookshelves, etc.) have room to fit in the truck by loading and securing them after your heaviest items.
6. Fill Empty Space
- As you load your truck, make note of any gaps or space available between your large items. Fill this space with smaller boxes, items, or padding. Your goal is to pack all of your belongings as snugly as possible to prevent movement and shifting, but not so tightly that items get crushed.
- Be sure to reinsert dresser, desk, entertainment center, and filing cabinet drawers (filled with belongings) once these items have been loaded onto the truck. Wrap drawers with plastic wrap and place against a wall to ensure they will not open during transit.
- Once bookcases are loaded onto the truck, fill the open spaces between shelves with smaller boxes and items and secure.
7. Next, Load Boxes
- When stacking, place heaviest boxes on the bottom, medium weight boxes in the middle of the stack and lightest boxes (or items) on top. Repeat this process, filling the remaining space in the truck from front to back, securing sections of boxes with straps as you go.
- Stack similar sized boxes, if possible, to create the most stable and secure stacks.
- Place any boxes labeled “fragile” at the top of your stacks and secure as necessary to prevent shifting during transit.
8. Distribute Weight Evenly (Left to Right)
- Distribute weight evenly across the width of your moving truck to keep the load level and easier to handle as you are driving.
- Offset heavy items on each side of your truck. For example, secure your refrigerator in the front left corner of your moving truck, and offset its weight by securing your washer and dryer in the front right corner of the truck.
9. Distribute Height Evenly (Front to Back)
- Ideally, you will choose the right size moving truck for your amount of belongings, but if you find you’ve chosen a truck that is too big, rearrange furniture and boxes so the height of all of your belongings is evenly distributed across the length of your truck (from front to back). This will prevent higher stacks from toppling down, and reduce shifting during transit, making your items more secure.
10. Load Essentials Last
- Load your packed essentials (see How to Pack for a Stress-Free Move for a list of essential items that should be packed separately) onto the truck last for easiest access to them once you’ve arrived at your destination.
- If your move is long distance and requires an overnight stay, be sure to keep your overnight bag(s) in the cab of your moving truck or in a separate vehicle that is joining the move for easiest access.
- Keep your most valuable items in a locked safe in the front of the truck with you.