Packing Materials for Finished Furniture

without scratching the finish. February 13, 2006

We're producing lacquered maple bed frames here in the NW. We'll need to keep both halves of each bed together for shipping them. The problem we're having is trying to find a decent spacer that can fit between each bed-set for protection so that they won't mar or burnish themselves during transit. Our customer said no Styrofoam, since it tends to actually scratch a dried finish. Has anyone found something that can safely protect bulky parts like this?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor F:
I would use either bubble wrap or a non-abrasive foam product.

From the original questioner:
I've checked some things out and contacted Seal-Air about the matter. I do think bubble wrap will be too thin, but need a thick blocky-type of material to space the beds apart from each other, probably in several places, since these frames are almost 5 feet tall by themselves. Thanks for the lead.

From contributor F:
How about corrugated cardboard? You can get it in all kinds of thickness.

From contributor C:
We recently addressed this issue. Our purchasing guru got a roll of packing paper and I promptly put it between two finished surfaces and moved them around a bit to simulate vibration and motion during shipment. The scratches were clearly evident and the roll sits unused. We continue to use a roll of soft foam, despite its higher cost. For bigger items, bubble wrap is placed between finished surfaces where they might rub against each other during shipment. Cardboard, paperwrap, etc. all have abrasive tendencies that your finisher knows about. We use it to knock off fine overspray. The grit equivalency might run from 600 to over 1000, but it's still abrasive. Test it out - "accidentally" get some overspray on a piece and rub various papers and cardboards on the surface. It makes it nice and smooth in no time at all. Now envision that same material rubbing against the bed parts as they are shipped cross country.

From the original questioner:
Did you use both the soft foam and bubble wrap for the bigger stuff, or just the bubble wrap? Also, our customer is against the use of soft foam, but they pack their stuff at their factory the same day they spray the beds. Then, once they're air cured, they put them all down with strips of paper between the bed's layers so it all air dries at the same time it is packaged. That's just not for us, if I can help it, but I think the foam could still work. These guys are kind of new to us, and I want it all go without any major hitches. Nevertheless, I'll try the bubble wrap for sure.

From contributor C:
The soft foam is for small stuff like a bundle of shelves. The bubble wrap is used between cabinet faces and finished ends when they are loaded onto the trucks. If you're shipping the bed pieces in a carton, I'd recommend the soft foam on the outsides of the pieces and the bubble wrap between the two pieces. If the customer's issue with the packing material is disposal, why not suggest that they return it to you so you can reuse it with the next shipment going to them? The bubble wrap I'm talking about is not the flat sheets of tiny bubbles that people love to pop. We have a machine that inflates the bubble material so it's fairly thick.

From contributor B:
In the NW, check out Z-Pak. We have used them for a variety of packing needs. They have a large selection of products and seem very helpful.