How do you move heavy items across water based sealed floors?
February 6, 2020 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I work for a piano moving company, and we are experience new problems with old solutions. Lots of people are choosing greener options in home remodeling, and one of these trends is using water based sealant on their floors. How do you slide incredibly heavy items with few points of contact long distances without damage?

We have always taken the utmost care not to scratch or smudge floors, and until recently folding a moving pad in half 3 to 4 times has offered adequate protection between metal piano wheels and wood flooring. Now the pads are causing dull rub marks on the finish, even if we wait the full two weeks to replace the piano on the newly finished floors.
These are 800+ pound instruments sitting on 3-4 fine points of contact with the floor, most of them cannot possibly be placed in their final location without sliding at least a couple of inches.
Looking for any suggestions.
posted by maleru to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
hard rubber sliders?

No idea how they would do on those surfaces but cheap enough to do a trial somehow. We have used them on our wood floors but not a piano and different finish.

might be hard on the long legs of a piano though.
posted by domino at 1:23 PM on February 6

You can spread the load - a section of 2x6 with a divot on top to accept the wheel, and then a blanket under the 2x6.

The moving disks at Home Depot and the like - flat delrin with foam on the back to cradle the bottom of the furniture - work surprisingly well.

If you really want to get fancy, use a 2x6 on a couple moving disks at each corner.
posted by notsnot at 1:25 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]

If you can't slide then you need to roll, on wide, soft wheels that spread the load out. Machinery skates are used for much heavier loads in industrial environments, but they come in a range of sizes and some have urethane-coated wheels.
posted by jon1270 at 1:42 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

hardboard is pretty cheap and in-compressible. You could bring a stack of varying sizes and create a path to roll things along - I've done the same for refrigerators and bulky furniture.
posted by Think_Long at 1:45 PM on February 6 [15 favorites]

Anything that moves while in contact with the floor will cause rub marks on soft finished floors. Since, realistically you can't carry the piano the whole way, you'll need something that goes between the piano and the floor, but won't move across the floor. Maybe you could glue some felt to the bottom of sheets of plywood, create a path from the entrance of the building to the final placement spot using multiple sheets, then slide/roll the piano across the path. After the piano is in place, it could be lifted for a brief moment while the felted plywood is pulled out from under it, and then lowered gently into place.

If not plywood, maybe large sheets of firm but flexible plastic, like the kind used as chair mats, could be used? The top layer needs to be hard enough to distribute the weight of the piano. The bottom layer needs to be soft enough that any slight movement won't rub or scratch.
posted by arcolz at 3:26 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

Seconding the 2x6 or something similar to spread the load. You could also consider putting some pieces of really thick carpet on the bottom of the board -- fuzzy side down touching the wood floor.
posted by amtho at 4:02 PM on February 6

Slice a sheet of plywood into foot-wide 4 foot pieces, so you have enough to keep putting down a strip of plywood under each wheel and a moving pad beneath it. That should distribute the load, and not be too narrow that a wheel could go astray of the edge.
posted by theora55 at 4:32 PM on February 6

Heavy duty caster cups Under the small metal piano wheels. Lay down ram board cardboard. No sliding.

For an upright a standard moving dolly will fit under of piano is tilted up.

Those cups are 600 pound so three on a grand would work. Higher capacities available.
posted by sol at 4:58 PM on February 6

I've seen the so-called air caster system move a heavy object in a factory once. AKA air film lifting, air cushion, air skates. Here's some info on the system. Small gaps and height changes across floor are also handleable.

IDK where you are but I found companies renting this gear in Aus and US.

I have no idea what these systems cost but here are some links show pallet-scale objects being moved.


Some of these setups are quite thin to get underneath heavy things.
posted by unearthed at 5:31 PM on February 6

I've used an Air Sled system to move heavy appliances. I rented it from a tool rental place for about $40/day.
posted by zombiedance at 6:18 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

I’d go air sled or a competitor, but if you can’t then heavy-duty skates and a lever dolly or two (uh, practice with the lever dolly first! They’re handy but they can damage things/you if you’re too casual with them).

Alternative: contact a local rigging company and pay them for an hour or two at their usual rate for some advice on gear/strategy.
posted by aramaic at 7:49 PM on February 6

I would try putting plywood between the folds of the furniture mat that you've been using. Half inch is the least I'd try, and at least a foot square under each wheel. That should work if the problem is the point loading.

If the real problem is weight, and you still get scuffing, then some sort of dolly with soft tires and a plywood track on the floor might be necessary.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:16 AM on February 7

Piano dollies, jacks, and lifts exist. Grand piano leg wheel dollies should work, with plywood over the floor if it is that sensitive.
posted by iStranger at 6:07 AM on February 7

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