How to Disassemble Furniture When Moving: 10 Steps for Success (2022)

When moving from one home to another, one tough question to answer is what to do with your furniture.

How to Disassemble Furniture When Moving: 10 Steps for Success (1)

To be better protected, some furniture pieces will need to be partially disassembled.

Should you just leave behind all those big and heavy household items and purchase brand-new ones after the move? This option may sound a bit extreme but it’s actually a good way to lower your moving costs.

Or should you take some select furniture pieces with you – the ones you just don’t wish to part with for one reason or another? This is the option most people pick as it seems to make the most sense during a house move.

Assuming that you choose the second option – packing and moving only a few select furniture pieces – then packing those large and heavy items by yourself will help you lower your moving expenses because you won’t need to pay for professional furniture packers and movers.

However, moving furniture by yourself is not easy by any means, and the most critical stage of that complicated task is the furniture disassembly step. In reality, being aware of how to disassemble furniture for moving will make the entire furniture moving job much easier and much safer for everyone.

Use these 10 steps to disassemble your furniture when moving, thus keeping costly property damage and painful personal injuries at bay.

Step 1. Determine whether to move your furniture at all

Before you can reach the furniture disassembly task, the very first thing you need to do is assess the unique set of circumstances surrounding your move with the purpose of deciding which furniture pieces you will move with you to the new home.

This is what you need to do: go through each room and create a detailed list of all the furniture pieces found there. Inventory each and every furniture item you have in the home you’re about to leave soon:

  • beds,
  • sofas (couches),
  • tables,
  • chairs,
  • dressers (wardrobes);
  • desks;
  • nightstands,
  • cupboards,
  • (china) cabinets;
  • bookshelves, and so on.

Remember that each furniture item you choose to pack and move will increase the cost of moving, so be very selective. Choose to move only pieces that you really need and have any sentimental value for you. Due to their substantial weight and size, oftentimes it proves to be cheaper to buy new furniture after the move than to haul old ones across the country.

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Sell, gift, donate or throw away the furniture units you won’t really need anymore.

Step 2. Measure your furniture and compare the measurements

Should you disassemble all furniture when moving? The short answer is: NO.

The good news is that furniture disassembly is only necessary when a furniture piece is too big to pass safely through the doorways and hallways in the home you’re leaving OR when it is too heavy to be moved safely as it is, as one unit.

Sometimes a furniture unit can be too long or too high to be maneuvered securely around a sharp corner or moved down the stairs accident-free on its way to the moving vehicle. In all those cases, YES, you have to dismantle the furniture to avoid damage or injuries.

Measure the dimensions – height, width, and length – of the larger pieces, then measure all doors and corridors in the home, and finally – compare those measurements to figure out your next packing and moving steps.

And yes, some smaller furniture items such as chairs, coffee tables or nightstands won’t need to be disassembled at all, only adequately protected for the road.

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Step 3. Create enough space for furniture disassembly

Depending on the specific furniture item that you’re about to take apart, the difficulty level of the furniture disassembly task can vary greatly.

After all, there’s a big difference between having to unscrew the legs of the kitchen table and pack them separately in protective blankets AND having to disassemble your queen-size bed to its main components for easier and safer transportation.

The next step when moving oversized furniture is to create enough space for proper disassembly. If the item that requires dismantling is big and heavy and touching a wall, you’d better use furniture slider under its legs or sides and slide it more toward the middle of the room for easier manipulation.

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In most furniture disassembly scenarios, the main idea is to be able to circulate around the piece you’re dismantling, especially when that household item is both big and heavy too.

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Step 4. Get the instruction manuals

Disassembling some large furniture items, whether partially or fully, will be pretty straightforward and all you’ll need to complete the task is to use your common sense. For instance, if there are any protruding parts that will complicate the moving process, just unscrew or unbolt them carefully to take them out.

However, some furniture pieces will be more complicated than that and you may need their respective instruction manuals in order to dismantle them properly. That’s especially true for sectional furniture units that follow a specific assembly/disassembly order to prevent damage.

So, whenever possible, always use manuals with detailed furniture disassembly steps to guide you throughout the process. Remember that furniture disassembly instructions are nothing more than furniture assembly instructions that are followed backward.

If you fail to find the furniture manuals, then try searching for them online or call a reputable furniture store in town and seek advice from the professionals there.

Step 5. Prepare the right furniture disassembly tools

Before you begin work on the furniture items that you have to take apart partially in order to fit through the smaller doorways and narrower corridors of the home, you’re recommended to prepare the tools you’ll need so that you don’t interrupt the process later on.

When disassembling furniture for a move, get your hands on:

  • Screwdrivers. Get a set of screwdrivers because different pieces will be screwed in with screws of various sizes.
  • Wrenches. You’re going to need various wrenches to remove the bolts and nuts that will keep the pieces together.
  • Hammer. Get a small hammer but use it very carefully as it can damage a furniture piece easily. Ideally, you’ll be able to get one of those rubber hammers that are known to be much more forgiving than regular metal ones.

If you do have your furniture instruction manual, then check inside whether you may need another tool, usually a more special one to get the job done.

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Step 6. Have sealable bags for those smaller parts

They say that preparation is half the battle, and that’s especially evident when you’re getting ready to move out.

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Losing small fastening elements during the furniture disassembly will slow down the furniture reassembly in the new home.

Another thing you should do before you start dismantling your big furniture pieces is to get hold of sealable plastic bags. Why? Those secure plastic containers (Ziploc bags) will hold all the small fastening elements that you remove during the furniture disassembly process.

During a chaotic house move, smaller items are easy to get misplaced or lost so you need to make sure nothing vanishes mysteriously between the two homes. Those re-sealable bags will be perfect for safeguarding bolts, nuts, washers, screws, etc. during the haul.

Don’t forget to label the plastic bags after you fill them up so that you know where those fastening elements need to go when you start re-assembling the furniture items.

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Step 7. Ask reliable friends to help you out

Don’t take apart larger and heavier furniture items entirely on your own due to the greater risk of something going wrong. Some furniture items, like china cabinets, will have two or more sections one on top of the other, so at least two pairs of hands will be needed to guarantee the safety of the furniture dismantling job.

Ask a person you can trust to give you hand with that tricky task – a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or someone from work. If you happen to know someone who you know has certain experience in assembling and disassembling furniture, then don’t hesitate to ask them for assistance, if at all possible.

Ideally, the person or persons who agree to help you take apart some of those huge furniture pieces will be there to help you move those same pieces to the moving vehicle and load them inside safely.

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Step 8. Disassemble your furniture with safety in mind

Now that you are ready to start the furniture disassembly job, it’s time to get down to it. Remember that by dismantling the largest pieces of furniture you own, you’ll make the main furniture structures easier and safer to move around, effectively eliminating the risk of floor damage, property damage (walls and doors), and personal injuries.

Pay close attention to these tips for disassembling furniture when moving house:

  • Protruding elements. Take apart all protruding furniture parts – legs, arms, decorations, attachments, etc. In most cases, those extra elements add substantially to the size of a furniture piece, making it really hard and even impossible to take a large unit out without inflicting some type of damage.
    Most detachable elements will be screwed in or bolted to the main frames, so use the proper tools to remove them safely.
  • Glass parts. Always remove any glass elements from the furniture items you’re taking with you. Carefully and slowly, take out those glass shelves, glass doors, or glass panels and pack them separately in packing paper first, followed by soft protective blankets.
  • Fragile elements. Whenever possible, remove detachable parts that are too delicate and run the risk of being broken during the move. That’s often the case with furniture ornaments and decorations.
  • Fastening elements. As discussed above, keep all screws, bolts, nuts, washers, and so on in plastic bags that close securely. Label those bags properly or attach them straight to the disassembled furniture piece for easier identification after the move.

Find out detailed information on how to disassemble the major furniture pieces you own by taking a closer look at their respective packing and moving guides:

QUEEN-SIZE BED

(Video) How to get your BIG SOFA through the door

DRESSER (WARDROBE)

COUCH (SOFA)

GRANDFATHER CLOCK

Step 9. Protect all detached furniture pieces

Once you take apart a furniture item, it’s time to protect the detached pieces so that they don’t get damaged during the haul.

  • How to Disassemble Furniture When Moving: 10 Steps for Success (4)

    Remember that your large furniture will need to be dismantled first and then protected to survive the move.

    Packing paper. Use it as the initial protective layer, mostly for smaller elements that happen to be extra fragile.

  • Bubble wrap. The ideal protection for the super-delicate furniture pieces you just took apart. Use sheets of bubble wrap over the first layer of packing paper to avoid potential damage when the bubbly plastic touches the wood surfaces directly.
  • Shrink wrap. Good for keeping dust, dirt, and moisture away from dismantled furniture pieces.
  • Furniture blankets. Those thick protective blankets should be used as the outermost layer when packing furniture after the partial furniture disassembly. Yes, you are free to use ordinary household blankets but you need to be aware that they are likely to get ruined during the move.

Follow the link below to learn more about what it takes to protect all disassembled furniture pieces:

How to protect furniture when moving house

Step 10. Hire professional movers if you get stuck

Performing the furniture disassembly without professional assistance may get trickier than you expected. For example, if you happen to come across furniture elements that are glued or nailed together, the risk of damage to the pieces becomes too great.

Also, losing precious time trying to take apart huge furniture units may not be the best idea because your moving checklist will be full of more urgent tasks to take care of.

Will movers disassemble furniture? Yes, full-service moving companies offer the furniture disassembly service for an extra fee. You can also get furniture reassembly services in the new home after the move is completed.

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If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to get in touch with professional furniture movers.

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