Moving large and heavy furniture pieces during a house move can be a backbreaking job – difficult, strenuous, and dangerous. Taking all the large moving boxes out of the house and loading them into the moving truck should not be underestimated either.
To save yourself and the people around you from personal injuries and to prevent costly damage to both your belongings and the place you’re leaving, your best option is to hire professional movers who will come with the proper moving equipment.
Proper moving equipment? That’s right – it’s not a secret that professional movers rely heavily on moving dollies to get the job done quickly and safely.
However, if you’ve decided not to use the services of a moving company but still have a lot of heavy lifting to do on the day of the move, then you just have to purchase or rent a moving dolly to ensure things will be running smoothly on the most exhausting and unpredictable day of a residential move.
And so, do you know how to use a moving dolly? What’s more, there are different types of moving dollies – do you have any idea how to choose the right one for the job?
What is a moving dolly?
In its simplest form, a moving dolly is a platform on wheels that will enable you to move large and heavy items with minimal effort and strain while maintaining a very high degree of safety as well.
There are two major types of dollies that you can use during a house move: a furniture dolly and an appliance dolly. Below we will give you more details about each type of moving dolly and safety instructions and useful tips on how to use a dolly to move heavy furniture and heavy moving boxes to the moving vehicle.
What’s the difference between a furniture dolly and an appliance dolly?
Here’s how to quickly tell which moving dolly is which:
- Furniture dolly: 4 wheels, flat platform made of wood, no handles, no lifting mechanism, no straps.
- Appliance dolly: 2 wheels, L-shaped lever made of metal, upright handle, small ledge as a lifting mechanism, straps. Also known as a hand truck.
When moving on your own – that is, without hiring professional movers – it’s critical that you first choose the right type of moving dolly, and then know how to use that dolly properly to make it work for you, not against you.
Here’s more information about each type of moving dolly so that you do end up making an informed decision about the type of moving equipment you will need to complete your house move quickly, safely, and easily.
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The furniture dolly at a glance
At first glance, a furniture dolly is nothing more than a rectangular piece of wood on 4 swivel wheels – nothing too fancy, really… but it does the job, and it does it well.
A furniture dolly is primarily used to move around large and heavy pieces of furniture (hence the name) such dressers, shelving units, armoires, bookcases, china cabinets, desks, large couches, chairs, etc. A good quality furniture dolly can handle weights of up to a thousand pounds, sometimes even more. A less expensive and more ordinary furniture dolly can support loads of a few hundred pounds without a problem. Before you rent or purchase your furniture dolly, always check the maximum permissible weight to guarantee safety on the day of the move.
The dolly for moving heavy furniture can be partly covered in carpet or other soft material to cushion the load on it and thus prevent scratching or scuffing along the furniture surface. Also, the extra padding improves the overall grip of the moving dolly and ensures that the furniture pieces are more stable while being transported on it and won’t slip off easily.
The major advantages of the furniture dolly are:
- It is fairly inexpensive to purchase and own for years to come. How much is a dolly? Depending on its built-in quality – mostly the maximum weight it can support (load capacity), a furniture dolly can cost from around $20- $40, and go up to around $60 for the heavy-duty models.
- It features a durable solid wood construction so it can have an impressive load rating – 500-800 pounds for the cheaper models and around 1,000 pounds for the more expensive ones.
- It has a well-balanced support thanks to the swivel 4-wheel design.
- It has a high degree of maneuvering so that you can navigate the heavy loads around tight places.
- It can be used for moving other heavy and bulky objects besides furniture – appliances (though the appliance dolly is the better option), stacked boxes, a piano, and so on. It reality, it will help you move almost anything you put on it.
The major disadvantages of the furniture dolly are:
- It has no lever or lifting mechanism, so you will need plenty of manpower to lift the heavy household pieces onto the moving dolly.
- It has no handle and no straps, so you will need to guide the dolly by actually pushing gently the loaded item in the direction you want it to go.
- It is not designed to move heavy items up or down staircases, only to move heavyweight objects along fairly flat surfaces.
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How to use a furniture dolly
Now that you know more about furniture dollies than you ever hoped to know, let’s get down to the main course: how to use a dolly to move furniture.
Step 1. ALWAYS MAP your exit route in your head before loading a big and heavy item on the furniture dolly and wheeling it away. If measurements show that you won’t be able to fit through the doorway your armoire standing up, then you shouldn’t move it the dolly in an upright position. Similarly, positioning a large furniture piece on its side (horizontally) won’t make much sense if you know it won’t fit through the narrow hallway.
- Step 2. DECIDE which side of the furniture piece you’ll place in the center of the moving dolly. As a rule of thumb, tall furniture pieces will need to be positioned on their sides – otherwise, they will have trouble clearing the doorways due to their height. If a piece has legs, then it won’t rest properly in an upright position. For some furniture items, you may need to wheel them out while they are positioned upside down onto the 4-wheeler.
Either way, use your best judgment in such tricky furniture moving situations.
- Step 3. CONSIDER emptying the large and heavy furniture pieces before attempting to move them on the furniture dolly. Unless they only contain lightweight clothes, emptying them will make them lighter and easier and safer to move.
- Step 4. SECURE all furniture drawers and doors before loading up the pieces onto the moving dolly. Use pieces of string or plastic wrap to keep those drawers and doors from opening during transport.
- Step 5. GET a friend to help you load the furniture piece onto the dolly – NEVER try to complete that precarious task entirely on your own.
- Step 6. SET the furniture dolly on the ground and position it close to the furniture piece you wish to move.
- Step 7. TILT the furniture item and slide the moving dolly underneath the piece. KEEP the dolly in place with yours and your friend’s foot because the weight of the load may kick out the dolly as it comes down on it.
- Step 8. LOWER, slowly and carefully, the large furniture piece onto the moving dolly and slide it into the center of the 4-wheeler. The furniture piece should end up well-balanced and perfectly square on the dolly.
Professional advice: If the furniture piece you’re trying to move is not too heavy, the better option is to raise it slightly into the air and place it directly onto the dolly. Make sure you and your helper can handle safely the weight of the furniture item.
- Step 9. START rolling the big furniture item across the floor and out of your home. Do this slowly while keeping it all under control: the person in front should hold the furniture piece with their hands, steer it slightly and watch out for potential obstacles. The person in the back should also keep their hands onto the furniture while pushing heavy load gently forward.
- Step 10. KEEP an eye on the ceiling so that you don’t smash any light fixtures when you’re moving a tall piece standing up. Also, KEEP an eye on the floor as you don’t want the moving dolly to run into something no matter how small that thing may seem. Remember that you need to have the furniture dolly moving smoothly and steadily in the direction you want it to go.
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The appliance dolly at a glance
Also known as a hand truck, the appliance dolly is essentially an L-shaped metal structure with a handlebar or two separate ergonomic handles, a small ledge to hold the load, and a couple of wheels – either solid ones or inflatable ones. Hand trucks also come with strong straps used to secure the load onto the moving dolly.
The appliance dolly is used primarily to move large and heavy appliances such as dishwashers, dryers, refrigerators, cooking stoves, and so on. Also, that type of moving dolly is ideal for hauling stacked boxes and even a number of furniture pieces. In fact, the best thing about hand trucks is that they are extremely versatile – no wonder then that all professional movers use them exclusively on the job every single day.
One thing to look out for when renting or purchasing an appliance dolly is the wheels. The solid wheels are ideal for rolling heavy items along fairly flat and stable surfaces while the inflatable wheels are much better at handling uneven surfaces, various obstacles, including going up and down stairs. When you’re not sure what type of a moving dolly to get, always opt for one with inflatable wheels even when the price is higher.
The major advantages of the appliance dolly (hand truck) are:
- It has extraordinary versatility and can be used to carry almost all types of heavy and bulky items within a home, not just household appliances. It’s the preferred moving dolly for transporting stacked boxes because of the extra support provided by the upright metal frame.
- It has a heavy-duty steel frame and solid or inflatable rubber wheels that can withstand loads from 400 lbs. to about 700 pounds, depending on the model. Always verify the max load capacity of a hand truck before using it.
- It has handles (or a handlebar) for easy loading and navigation around tight corners and narrow corridors.
- It has a small ledge that acts as a lifting mechanism, meaning in most cases you’ll only need to tilt the appliance for the dolly to get underneath it and not to lift it off the ground in order to load it into it.
- It has durable nylon straps to secure the heavy loads for safer transportation.
- It can feature a folding design for easy storage.
- Unlike the furniture dolly, it can go up and down stairs, if needed.
The major disadvantage of the furniture dolly is:
- It can be a bit pricey to purchase. Depending on the exact model, appliance dollies start from around $70 and can easily pass the $100 mark.
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How to use an appliance dolly
The good news is that an appliance dolly (hand truck) is much easier to use than a furniture dolly. Here’s how to use the best dolly for moving things during a house move.
- Step 1. ALWAYS MAKE SURE there’s a clear obstacle-free path between the heavy items you’re about to load onto the appliance dolly and the final point – usually the moving truck.
- Step 2. GET a helper – loading and using a moving dolly is not a job for a single person. Have somebody reliable by your side – a person you can trust and rely on when things get difficult.
- Step 3. CREATE well-balanced stacks when using the moving dolly for moving boxes. Those cardboard boxes will need to be perfectly aligned so that they don’t topple over once you start rolling them.
- Step 4. ARRANGE the boxes in such a way so that the top box ends up resting against the vertical frame of the appliance dolly – if not completely, then at least partially. Also, don’t place a very big box on the very top – you need to be able to see where you’re going at all times.
- Step 5. MOVE the appliance you intend to move – a fridge, a washer, a dryer, or a stove – away from the wall using the right type of furniture sliders to protect your floors as well. Then, TURN the appliance around because household appliances should be loaded onto the moving dolly with their rear parts facing you.
- Step 6. TIE or TAPE electrical cords to the back of the appliance to avoid accidents during the haul.
- Step 7. GET the hand truck to the back edge of the appliance, then have your helper tilt the big and heavy item away from the dolly, then slide the dolly’s metal ledge underneath the load.
- Step 8. TILT back, slowly and carefully, the appliance until it rests upright onto the bottom place of the moving dolly as well as onto the floor itself. The upright steel frame of the hand truck should be touching the back of the appliance.
Step 9. SECURE the large appliance onto the appliance dolly using the dolly’s own straps. Aim the straps roughly to the central part of the appliance, then tighten them around the load. If necessary, you can use extra pieces of rope for additional support.
- Step 10. TILT back the appliance dolly until the load is balanced onto its rubber wheels. Now you’re ready to start pushing the moving dolly in the direction you want to go. How to use a dolly going down stairs? Have your helper hold the appliance from the opposite end to keep it stable enough while you roll the moving dolly very slowly and extra cautiously down each step, tilting the hand truck even lower at times to keep the balance intact.
Using a dolly to move furniture, appliances, boxes, and other large and heavy items in the home is not only hard work but can be plain dangerous as well. If you don’t feel up to the task for one reason or another, do yourself a favor and hire professional movers who are experts at using moving dollies – after all, they use those moving equipment pieces every single day.
The post How to Use a Moving Dolly: Furniture Dolly vs. Appliance Dolly appeared first on The Moving Blog.