How to protect your floors during a move

Should you put down floor covering when moving?

Many things during a move can damage your flooring. Heavy furniture and appliances can dent, ding and scratch floors if scooted or dropped. Even if you carry everything in and out, heavy traffic can leave behind dirt and scuffs – which means you might not get your deposit back, or you may have to make repairs. While covering your floors is another pre-moving step to take care of, it’s worth it to avoid any issues. Use these tips to find the easiest and best ways to protect your hardwood, carpet, stairs, vinyl and tile.

man covering stairs with protective plastic


How to protect floors when moving

No matter what type of flooring you have, use these tips to keep them in good condition when moving:

  1. Clean first. While you’re sure to track in some dirt when loading or unloading, start with clean surfaces so debris doesn’t get trapped under coverings or ground into carpet or tile.
  2. Measure the area. Measure high-traffic paths through your home to find out how many linear feet of floor covering you need.
  3. Put down floor covering. Use the guide below to determine the best type of covering for each area.
  4. Use care with heavy appliances and furniture. We recommend putting down cardboard or a sheet of floor covering before moving appliances or furniture away from the walls. Then, use a dolly to load and unload large pieces to avoid dropping or dragging them. Use our loading tips to learn how to move heavy items safely.
  5. Put down a doormat. Ask everyone to wipe their feet in between trips outside.
  6. Consider splitting your crew into indoor and outdoor teams. If you have several people helping, separate them into two groups. One group stays inside, taking items to or from the doorway, and the other remains outside, taking things from the home to the moving equipment (or in reverse when unloading). This will help keep tracked-in dirt to a minimum.
  7. Have a plan before setting things down. Knowing where things will go can help reduce the number of times you shift things around.

Choosing the best floor protection

Covering floors — especially in high-traffic areas like hallways and entryways — is one of the best ways to protect them. While you can use rugs, old blankets or drop cloths, those can be a tripping hazard. Products designed specifically for covering floors will provide the best protection and be safest underfoot.

Most floor covering options can be found at any hardware store. You’ll use blue painter’s tape to secure most of these different types, so be sure to grab plenty of that as well.

Hardwood floors

You have a couple of options when it comes to protecting hardwood floors while moving appliances and furniture. Red rosin paper is the most affordable, and it will provide a layer of protection against wear and tear. But the best protection for prefinished hardwood is a product called Floor Shield. It’s thicker than the red rosin paper, non-slip and self-adhering, so it’s protective and easy to put down. Note: if you have job-finished wood, it has a more delicate finish, so we recommend using builder’s paper or X-board for a similar level of protection as the Floor Shield.


The best and easiest way to cover carpet when moving is to use an adhesive poly sheet called carpet film. Apply it as you would plastic wrap — unroll it and step on it to stick it to the floor. It doesn’t leave a residue when applied for a short time, and it will prevent stains or damage to both cut- and looped-pile carpets.


It takes a little work to cover a set of stairs, but it will be worth it since they will see a lot of traffic during a move. Use carpet film over carpeted stairs and red rosin paper over every other type of flooring since it’s flexible and will be the easiest to custom fit. Be sure to tape the paper down sufficiently to avoid any tripping hazards.


Scuffs and tears are the biggest concern when moving with vinyl flooring, so be sure to lay down cardboard if you’re going to scoot appliances or furniture over them. Otherwise, protect the finish by laying down red rosin paper and attaching it with blue painter’s tape.


To prevent broken or cracked tiles when moving, you want something sturdier. We recommend X-board for high-traffic tiled areas and Ram Board® for pathways where you’ll be taking a dolly across. While it’s the most expensive option, it provides the thickest protection when rolling heavy items on fragile tile floors.


If you have any questions about how to protect your floors during a move, let us know in the comments. We’re here to help!