Tips for “loading your own truck” is more “rules of thumb” than exact directions due to the fact that every household is different with different amounts and types of items. However, there are definitely some procedures that if followed will make the process smoother and keep your items in the same condition at the end of the move as they were in before the move started.
PREPARATION/BOXES AND PACKING:
When preparing for your move, make sure all small or loose items like books, papers, lamps, toys, dishes, etc are packed into closed top containers or plastic tubs. Open top bins like milk crates, or laundry baskets make it harder to stack and way harder to load. Breakables should not be packed in pliable tubs for protective reasons. See the article on Packing Tips From an Expert to properly prepare. The whole idea is the more square the items to be loaded the easier to fit the puzzle together.
When preparing furniture for loading, use shrink wrap or stretch film on upholstered pieces, mattress cartons or bags are available at most packing material vendors for beds, and either moving blankets (which can be rented at truck rental locations) or paper pads, (which can be purchased from most packing materials vendors) to protect wood or metal furniture. Even if you don’t individually wrap each piece before loading, it’s critical to have some type of protection or buffer in between furniture pieces. Remember, wood against wood is never good, it causes damage.
The big thing about artwork or mirrors (marble table tops too) is to stand them up, never lay them down flat. Remember, when you see a glass truck on the highway, the glass is always upright. This method is 5 times safer than laying the art/mirror flat on its back. To properly pack art/mirrors, see the article Moving Artwork.
The hardest and most awkward to pack is the garage. If you have availability to use an additional vehicle like a pickup for items like lawn mowers, and snow blowers, go ahead, If not see Garage and Outdoor Items Packing Tips to prepare.
When movers load a truck, they use a method of loading in tiers or rows. A tier is a 2’-3’ deep row of furniture that the loader builds from floor to ceiling so the shipment is built in layers inside the truck. The tier is generally built with the heaviest or base items (like dressers and buffets) on the bottom progressing to the lightest items on the top row of the tier like fragiles, boxed lamp shades, etc. A typical tier may look like: 2 dressers on the bottom, a row of heavier boxes like dish packs in the middle row and a row of lighter cartons, interlocked dining chairs or other light items on the top row. If there is a little room still at the top (space permitting), things like small rolled rugs, bundles of mops and brooms, or soft duffle bags are good fill items (often referred to by movers as chowder). Please remember, to make the items in the tier the same depth so each tier is as flat as possible across the front. After a few tiers it’s not a bad idea to build a type of wall or bulkhead like some beds, a row of tall bookcases or even a couple sheets of plywood to separate the load into sections and help avoid avalanches on the unload. Use nylon tie straps or buckled logistic straps to help secure the load at the bulkhead. Repeat this method to the back of the truck finishing the load with garage items. Garage items don’t stack or fit all that well, just keep your gas operated items like lawn mowers or snow blowers on the truck floor, and try to use padded items to fill in as much as possible around them to create a flat surface for the next level. Sometimes a sheet of plywood or the use of speed packs (large corrugated bins) to square up the load helps make the next level a little easier to stack.
Generally, these steps and a load that is nice and tight (reducing shifting during transit)keep the shipment safe on its way to destination. The tier method of loading will also make the load much easier to take down during the unload process. To get more good tips on loading/unloading your own truck, see: The Don’ts of loading your own moving truck.