When you delve into the world of shipping furniture, sticker shock may ensue, whether you're sending an end table to your friend a few states away or shipping a dresser that you sold online. Freight companies are the go-to option to ship furniture to another state, but cheaper options exist, as well as ways to reduce the cost of freight transportation. Alternatively, rent a small box truck or load up a pickup truck and move the piece yourself; however, gas prices may still prove costly.
The U.S. Postal Service
Your local post office ships packages up to a total length and width of 130 inches with standard post, as of the time of publication. While this isn't feasible for a bed or other large piece, it's a cost-effective way to ship smaller items such as three-shelf bookcases, end tables and the like. To fit the requirements, take the piece apart. Some solid-wood furniture either cannot be broken down enough, or doing so is labor-intensive and runs the risk of ruining the piece. In addition to the dimension restrictions, the total package, including the furniture, packing materials, and box, must weigh less than 70 pounds.
Companies offering freight services handle large, heavy packages that the standard postal service can't. For the cheapest option, break down the piece, package it in a crate, and deliver it to the warehouse on your own, bypassing the freight company's costly "white glove" or door-to-door service. Depending on company policy, you may have to let the professionals pick up the furniture and crate it themselves. Ground transportation is the cheapest option, although most freight companies wait until they have enough products to fill the truck before departing. Along with this delay and their stops in various locations, it can take several weeks to a few months for your furniture to make it to its final destination. Air transport is faster, but it is not the cheapest way to ship furniture to another state; in most cases, it's the most expensive.
Traditional moving companies may sell space on a truck for smaller shipments if the truck is under-loaded, depending on your area and the type of moving companies available. Contact local moving companies that service your state as well as the state to which you want to ship the furniture; most companies list this information on their website. Request information regarding any under-loaded trucks in the future. Some companies may allow you to bring the furniture to them, although most prefer to pick it up and load it themselves to ensure the truck is properly organized and the weight is balanced. Price varies drastically, depending on the company and the size of the piece you're shipping. This option could be cheaper than both the postal service and dedicated freight companies or significantly more expensive. In some cases, you may have the best luck with smaller, locally owned moving companies versus national chains.
Other Cost Considerations
Depending on your chosen shipment option, other factors are involved in the total cost outside of transportation. For postal service and freight companies, you'll need to purchase or supply a box suitable for the weight of the furniture as well as protective packing supplies to prevent damage. Given the size limits of the postal service, you can typically use a heavy-duty cardboard box and plenty of foam sheet wrapping or quilted blankets. Freight companies ship in pallets, and you'll need to purchase wooden crates or pay the company for containers. Fuel surcharges, common among moving companies, also drive up costs, as does renting a truck to bring the furniture to the postal service or freight company if you don't already own one.