Protecting Your Fragile Items When Packing
When packing your items for shipping or storing, you need to protect your fragile pieces with packaging material that will keep them safe from bumps, vibrations, or shocks of any kind. You need to consider how to pack the items in the box so that they don’t shift, can withstand being moved by hand or by cart, and can be placed in a car trunk, or stacked in a moving truck or a storage locker. Different items require different packing options to keep them safe, for example, fine china needs a different packing method than electronic equipment.
People may try to use bath towels, blankets or clothing to protect a fragile item, thinking that these soft cloths provide padding, while serving the dual purpose of packing these things for shipping or storage as well. These types of packing solutions may be “penny wise and pound foolish”, when the fragile item does not survive the trip.
Common hazards for fragile items include vibration and shock – a box may be dropped or banged by another box being loaded on top of it, or shaken by a vibrating truck engine or by being wheeled over rough pavement when being moved to a truck or storage location. Packing material used for cushioning needs to be able to protect from shock and vibration, and needs special physical characteristics to do so.
Things to consider for cushioning material are:
- Will it remain resistant under the weight of the item it is supposed to protect? Or will it eventually compress under the weight of the item?
- Will it withstand multiple shocks? Will it bounce back after one bump or will it compress and not be available to cushion a second bump?
- Will it withstand changes in air pressure, temperature or humidity? If the package is going to be going on an airplane, or stored in an environment that is not climate controlled, will the cushioning material maintain its resilience?
Packing materials that are efficient at cushioning, able to withstand both item weight and multiple shocks include:
- Packaging peanuts/loose fill – These are designed to fill a void within a box, taking up the space between the object being protected and the sides of the box. They flow around the object, interlock when stressed, and can withstand multiple shocks.
- Paper – Heavy grades of paper or Kraft paper can be wadded into a box or wrapped around objects. These types of paper provide more cushioning protection than old newspaper.
- Corrugated fiberboard pads – These paper based pads are made from a fluted board between one or two flat liner sheets. The pads provide cushioning.
- Inflated products – Air filled bubble type wrapping provides cushioning around an object.
- Foam structures – polystyrene shapes engineered to fit around an item for cushioning
Besides cushioning, items may need to be blocked and braced within the box to securely hold them in place during transportation. For example, electronic items often have engineered or molded protection that comes from the original manufacturer when they ship the item such as molded pulp, endcaps, clamshells, and corner blocks. If possible, save any specifically shaped blocking and bracing material from an original purchase for later moves.
With today’s focus on the environment, keep in mind that many packing materials are either recyclable or made from recycled material. Paper and pulp products are easily recycled. Foam packing peanuts can be made from recycled polystyrene or from biodegradable plant starch. Many of the cushioning materials can be reused for additional packing at a later time.
A wide variety of packaging material is available from most moving and storage companies as well as in each of our 13 Guardian Self Storage locations. Discuss the items you plan to protect with our staff and get the right packing material to keep your items safe.