Paper, Plastic Or Pads? The Best Wrap For Your Move

When it comes to wrapping your household goods for a move, not all wrapping material is created equal.  When you’ve got a large stack of heirloom china plates before you that need to be safely transported on a moving truck, often the first instinct is to reach for the plastic bubble wrap. Those sheets of air may cushion our breakables well, (and sure are fun to pop later), but professional movers prefer to use sheets of undyed packing paper for smaller breakables, for several reasons.

  •  Efficiency – paper sheets are thin yet durable in a move.  Wrapping each item tightly but separately in two sheets of paper inhibits contact between the items when placed in a box.  Because of the thinness of paper, more items can fit in a box, and the paper sheets can also be used to fill the corners of the boxes to lessen any jostling that could occur, keeping your delicates snug.
  • Cost – paper is less costly than bubble wrap.  Because of its bulk, there is only so much space in a box for your bubble wrapped goods, therefore more materials will  be needed to finish the task.  
  • Environmentally-friendly – packing paper can be recycled, whereas bubble wrap is not as easily recycled.
  • Clean – new packing paper is perfect for your clean dishes, and will keep them stain free.  Newspapers can leave marks on your china (and your hands).

While paper does a fabulous job for the smaller breakables, larger fragile items and sensitive electronic equipment should be wrapped in paper pads, which are thin foam encased in thick brown paper.  These come in various sizes, and are perfect for framed artwork, lamps, and large vases, and keep electronics protected on the outside while preventing dust from getting inside.

According to Patrick Ford, materials manager for The Mover Makers, “one good way to think about padded paper and how safe it is for your needs is that padded paper protects at least as well as the box for everything except sharp or hard collisions.”  

Bubble wrap does have its place in the moving world.   For sensitive items that are awkwardly shaped or bulky, bubble wrap is ideal.  While not as environmentally friendly, bubble wrap can be used repeatedly as long as the bubbles are intact (if you can resist the urge to pop).  For the best cushioning protection, pack with the bubbles facing inward. The moving box should still have a cushion of paper below the bubble wrapped object, and all sides of the box inside should be stuffed with a few layers of wadded paper to prevent jostling and anything placed inside.

No matter what you choose for your packing material, make sure there is no “jiggle room” in the box, as most breaks occur when items bang against each other, not something from outside the box.  Keep these hints in mind, and your treasured possessions will make the trip to their new home intact.