Whether you're moving a couch or a boulder, a heavy planter or a delicate glass mirror, these heavy-lifting tips will make the job easier and save wear and tear on your body.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:April 2012
Moving and lifting straps (“hump straps”) make lifting heavy objects easier on your
back by relying on stronger muscle groups like your legs and shoulders. They also
leave your hands free to maneuver awkward items like mattresses. However, they
can be tricky to use on stairs because the weight shifts completely to the downhill
Look for moving straps that can be adjusted for different length objects as well as
for different-sized movers. Be careful not to trip on any slack from the straps. Since
these straps are rarely padded, they can leave your shoulders sore (but that’s better
than your back!). The Forearm Forklift, Teamstrap Shoulder Dolly and others are available at home centers and online retailers.
Need to move a boulder?
Or maybe wrestle
down a flight of
strength may have
served you well back
in high school. But
growing older means
using your mind more
than your muscles
when it comes to
moving heavy or
Otherwise, you risk
wrecking your back,
your house and the
item you’re moving.
We asked veteran
movers and our Field
Editors for their top
moving tips. Their
brains can make your
next move faster and
easier, even if you
don’t have the brawn
of a high school
To move big recliners with ease, find the back brackets on the outside or inside of the back frame. Lift the locking levers on both sides (you may need to use long-nose pliers) and slide the back
straight up to remove it from the recliner. Always lift a recliner from the sides, not by
the back or footrest. Tie the footrest in place so it doesn’t spring open.
“I thought my large sofa could
make it around the 90-degree
angle of the basement stairs.
Needless to say, I got the sofa
wedged in the stairwell and
had to climb under it just to
escape. So I took out my trusty
handsaw and sawed the thing
in half! Once it was downstairs,
I was able to quickly
fasten it back together with
some screws and scraps of
wood. Because the rips in the
fabric were at the back and
bottom, nobody was the
wiser.” - Chris Bannister
When you’re lugging a sofa through a doorway,
remember: You can always make it a
few inches smaller by removing the feet.
The same principle applies to any piece of
furniture you need to make sleeker or
lighter: Take off any and all knobs, drawers,
shelves, racks and legs.
Need to replace a cast iron tub
or get rid of old radiators? Use
your trusty sledgehammer to
smash them into pieces.
extra 1/2 in. is all
it takes to get
through a doorway.
the door doesn’t
open up enough
space, pry off
the door stop
will give you
another 3/4 in.
Use lumber, scaffold planks
and blocks to create ramps to
“To load my wheeled generator
into the back of my SUV, I
built ramps using supported
lengths of 2x6 and attached a
come-along tool to the parking
brake handle in the front
seat. I was able to move the
ratcheting lever with one hand
and steer the generator up the
ramps with the other.” - Jim Boyle
Available in single and double versions,
these FastCap Handle on Demand suction cups can be
attached to any nonporous surface.
They’re not for unfinished wood surfaces.
A single pad can support 100
lbs. and the double pad twice that.
Bury it: Dig a slightly deeper hole
next to it and roll it in.
Heat it: “When I was little, my
father had to remove a large boulder
about the size of a filing cabinet laid
sideways. He cleared the grass from
around it and built a fire all around
it. After a few hours he put bags of
ice on top of the boulder and it
cracked into pieces.” - Marc M.
“I was dragging a log with a four-wheeler.
The log had a small branch sticking out,
which caught a small standing tree. The
tree broke off and hit me on the head,
knocking me silly and flipping me
off the four-wheeler. Nothing
was hurt but my pride." - David Green
“I moved a 10 x 10-ft.
shed by myself
recently. I put 2x4s
down and used
of PVC pipe
to roll the
position.” - Karl Schroeder
Secure appliance doors, cords, tubing
and other items with plastic wrap or
moving bands rather than bungee cords
or tape, which can leave a residue or
damage the finish.
You can buy furniture
slides in many
shapes and sizes at home
centers and online retailers.
Use hard plastic sliders for carpeting,
and soft, carpeted sliders
for hard flooring.
PotLifter plant straps let you tote up to 200 lbs.
“I love my chain hoist (availabe from harborfreight.com). It lets me load just about anything into
my pickup without breaking a sweat. Here’s how: I
beefed up one of my garage roof trusses by screwing
and gluing 3/4-in. plywood to both sides. Then I hung my
chain hoist from the truss. Now I can lift any load a few feet off
the floor, back my pickup in under it and lower the load into the bed.” - Gary Wentz
Moving blankets are invaluable for protecting
items as well as your house. Sure, renting them
is cheap, but you can get one for just a few dollars more at home centers or uhaul.com and
have it on hand. The blankets work great for
sliding appliances and furniture over hard floors
and hauling lumber home on your car roof.
“After measuring carefully, I thought I could get a fiberglass
one-piece tub/shower up the steps into a remodeled
bath. After an hour of scratching the hardwood
steps, the walls and ceiling and destroying custom-fit
curved crown molding, I realized it would
not fit. Plan B: Cut a hole in the second-floor
exterior wall (it was coming
out anyway) and use the
excavator’s backhoe as
a crane and lift it to
the second floor.
Plan B took 15 minutes. It should have been Plan A.” - Brian Zoeller
“We were setting granite stair treads, and moving them around
was tough. We poured bagged ice on the ground, set the treads
on top and moved them easily into place. When the ice melted,
those treads were there forever.” - Jim Haglund
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
You'll also need a come-along, glass suction cups, a chain hoist, plant straps, moving blankets and moving straps.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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