Moving heavy objects is serious work, especially when it comes to lugging items such as appliances, steel safes or armoires up or down a set of stairs. If you don't have a dozen NFL linebackers at your disposal, you'll need some moving equipment designed to secure the load and help you safely navigate the stairs.
While some people use the terms "hand truck" and "dolly" interchangeably, only a hand truck will help you move items on a stairway. Dollies are best suited for transporting items across a flat surface. Hand trucks have wheels and a flat base with an upright ladder support and handles. When viewed from the side, a hand truck resembles the letter "L."
Hand Truck Use
- Slide the flat base of the hand truck under your item.
- Strap the item securely to the hand truck's upright support.
- Gripping the handles firmly, tilt the hand truck toward you to balance the weight on the wheels.
- Walk backward when going up stairs, pulling the hand truck up one stair at a time.
- Walk forward when going downstairs -- lowering the hand truck one stair at a time.
- Do not exceed the hand truck’s load limit.
- Two-wheel hand trucks have their limitations. If your item is extremely heavy, like a gun safe, rent a motorized stair-climbing hand truck from a moving company.
Moving straps, the relative new kids on the block, look a little like skydiving harnesses but are designed to allow you to lift heavier items than you normally could without back strain. Two people are required when using moving straps, one on each end of the heavy item. A carrier strap connects to the front of each harness and slips under the item. The rule of thumb when using moving straps on stairs is for the strongest person to be on the lower end of the stairs. Gravity shifts the weight downward, leaving the role of the person above to steady the item.
- Follow the safety rule “Lift with your knees” when using moving straps.
- While moving straps allow you to carry an item while remaining upright, they are only useful to a point. If your item is too heavy to carry, even with moving straps, it might be time to rent a stair-climbing hand truck.
The Blanket Move
If you need just one item moved, and it's heavy, but not excruciatingly heavy, you might be able to move it up or down the stairs with a blanket. Perhaps the most underrated technique of all, the blanket move allows you to slide a flat-sided item down a staircase, or pull one up. The blanket protects the surface of the item and the stairs. You will need at least two people and a thick, heavy blanket that's a few feet longer than the item you're moving. After placing the item in center, flat side down, roll up the excess fabric on both ends to use as "handles." The blanket method works well for dressers, heavy file cabinets and other flat-surfaced items.
Disassemble and Protect
Remove wooden legs from sofas and knobs from dressers and armoires to prevent scratches to the furniture and gouges in the wall. The backs of some recliners are removable where the backrest attaches to the seat. If you are moving Great Aunt Kathy's antique walnut vanity, she's not going to be thrilled if it reaches its destination with stair scratches. Thoroughly wrap the exterior of the large furniture items with plastic package wrap -- the kind that comes as a roll on a handle -- to keep doors closed and prevent scuffing.
Glenda Taylor is a contractor and a full-time writer specializing in construction writing. She also enjoys writing business and finance, food and drink and pet-related articles. Her education includes marketing and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.