Doorways and Cramped Spaces: The Best Way to Move Furniture in Your Home

Whether you’re moving into a new home or you’ve just found the perfect couch, moving furniture is undoubtedly on your agenda. This means you have some hard work ahead as is, but this process can be extra time consuming and stressful when you add tight spaces, doorways, and narrow staircases into the equation.

Luckily, a little bit of prep work can make moving furniture in your home a breeze—even through cramped spaces. This 5-step process will not only protect both your home and your furniture from damage, but it can also save you from frustration and injury.

Step 1. Measure

All the fidgeting and pivoting in the world won’t make your furniture fit if it doesn’t have enough room, so measuring is the first step to saving time, energy, and frustration.

To start, you’ll want to measure:

Furniture. Take note of the length, width, and height.

Pathway. Measure the width and height of stairwells and doorways to ensure you have enough space to maneuver the furniture through. Don’t forget to also measure clearance for tight corners, especially if you’re moving a long piece like a dresser, couch, or table.

Step 2. Minimize

Dissembling furniture is always an excellent option for getting through doorways and cramped spaces successfully. Plus, a full disassembly usually isn’t required—even just taking off one key piece that contributes to the bulk or weight can be a gamechanger.

A few reasons to disassemble furniture before you move it:

It’s too heavy. Taking apart furniture to make it lighter means that you are less likely to drop it and damage your home, self, or the piece itself.

It’s awkward. We’ve all went to get a grip on a piece of furniture only to find there is no good place to hold. If the piece has drawers, removing them can provide a place for you to get a grip. Otherwise, taking the furniture apart may be the next best option. 

It won’t fit. If your furniture is too big to make it to its destination, the next step is to see if disassembly is an option that can remedy this issue.

Step 3. Troubleshoot

If your furniture is disassembled and it still won’t fit through the doorway or around the corner, there are a couple of things to try before throwing in the towel:

Flip it. Sometimes a vertical flip is all you need to slip a piece around a corner or through a door. This generally works if the furniture is less than 80 inches in length as building code dictates that interior doorways need to be 80 inches in height.

Enlarge the doorway. If your furniture is slightly too wide to fit through a doorway, removing the door can provide the extra clearance you need (up to 1 ¼ inches). Plus, all it will take is a screwdriver to unscrew the hinges and pop it off. Still need a smidge more space? Removing the door frame—which is usually only held on by a few small nails—can also add another ½ inch of clearance.

Use a large window. If a doorway is your issue, consider a different entry point. Sometimes feeding a piece of furniture through a large first-floor window is a good option. Don’t have a first-floor window? Hoisting through an upper floor balcony or higher window is a last resort option. However, we don’t advise that you tackle this task on your own. This method can be risky to both your furniture and your physical safety, so hiring a professional mover with the equipment and training to do this successfully is 100% recommended.

Take off the railing. If turning in or out of a stairway is your problem and a vertical flip isn’t cutting it, then taking off the railing is also an option. Just keep in mind, this is often labor-intensive, so if it is only one piece of furniture that won’t fit, it may not be worth it.

Step 4. Prep

Damage is always a possibility with any type of furniture move. However, there is always a higher risk of damage when maneuvering through tight or awkward spaces, so here are a few prep steps you should consider:

Clear a path. There should be ample room to maneuver the piece without worrying about hitting other furniture or tripping on odds and ends.

Protect your paint. If you want your paint to remain in tip-top shape, tape the edges of any doorframes you are going through and any corners that are in danger of being bumped.

Safeguard your furniture. You can also tape all the edges of your furniture if you are worried about scratches or scuffs. However, a better method to protect furniture is to wrap it in a moving blanket and then secure the blanket with either tape or stretch wrap from an industrial-sized roll. All of which you can commonly find at hardware stores.

Step 5. Move

Once you’ve been through steps 1-4, you are finally ready to start lifting. To avoid any moving mishaps, we highly recommend that you:

Stretch. A couple minutes of stretching could save you the months, years, or a lifetime of pain from a moving injury.

Work as a team. Two people are ideal for moving most furniture pieces, but another person navigating and ensuring a clear path is also a great idea

Slide. If you are moving furniture across a flat surface, slide the furniture by placing sliders under the corners to save you from lifting. Fabric works fantastically for hard floors, while plastic sliders are ideal for carpet.

Ask for help. If a piece is just too heavy or you can’t find a way to make it fit, consider calling in the experts. Professional movers are accustomed to moving furniture through cramped spaces, plus they are great at both dismantling and assembling pieces. Don’t want to hire movers for just one piece? Call a reputable moving company and ask for advice. Many will be happy to help. The right approach is everything for safely and effectively maneuvering furniture through tight doorways and cramped spaces. By following the 5 steps above and not rushing the process, you will have your new furniture set up in no time!

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